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A History of Facebook: From Harvard To Your Phone


There was Friendster, Myspace, and then, Facebook. Even though Facebook was not the first social media platform, it kickstarted the social media age. Today, people are addicted to using the platform to read the trending news and blogs, comment on others, use Facebook features, and see what their friends and family are up to. This age all started with an idea in the halls of Harvard University.  


The Beginning of Facebook


Facebook all started with an idea from Harvard University student, Mark Zuckerberg. He was a psychology student who was also a computer programmer. Prior to the creation of Facebook, he created multiple social websites for the school including Coursematch and Facemash.

Here’s a timeline of how Facebook began:


  • February 2004: Zuckerberg launched “The Facebook” for Harvard students. 1,200 students signed up within 24 hours.
  • March 2004: The social platform is available to other Ivy League universities
  • August 2005: “The Facebook” became Facebook and the domain was purchased for $200,000.
  • September/October 2005: High schools and UK universities were allowed to sign up for Facebook.
  • September 2006: Anyone with an email could join Facebook.


Also, with the beginning of Facebook came the lawsuit against Zuckerberg by Divya Narendra and the Winklevoss Twins. They claimed that Zuckerberg stole their ConnectU platform ideas and code. Zuckerberg did work on the computer programming behind ConnectU before Facebook was created. Later on in 2007, the case was dismissed and there was no final ruling.


The “Like” Button


Facebook features
The “like” button will always be one of the most popular Facebook features.


When most people think about Facebook, they think of Mark Zuckerberg and the “like” button. However, unlike what most people think, the “like” button actually didn’t start on Facebook. FriendFeed, a social media site that closed in 2015, was the first to create the button.

When the idea of like button first came about in 2007, Zuckerberg wasn’t too keen on it. The original name for it was the “awesome button”. The Facebook team revisited it in 2008 and tried convincing Zuckerberg that it was a good idea. The team proved to him that the “like” button would actually increase a post’s comments, not decrease them.

The button was officially released on February 9, 2009. Since then, the Facebook “like” button has changed with the addition of the love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry buttons. The button’s popularity led to other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram to include the same button.


The Shift of User Demographic


As Facebook has grown over the years, the user age demographics have changed.In the early years of Facebook, mainly teens and college students used it. Adults and seniors were out of the loop with the whole Facebook thing.

However, as the years have gone by, there has been a shift in the overall user age demographic. Adults and seniors are now using the platform to connect with family and old friends. Teens have shifted from using Facebook to being active on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

According to ISL, here’s the difference in Facebook users based on age demographics from 2014 to 2017.

  • January 2014 User Age Demographics:
    • 13-17:  9.8 million
    • 18-24:  42 million
    • 25-34:  44 million
    • 35-53:  56 million
    • 55+:     28 million
  • January 2017 User Age Demographics:
    • 13-17:  5.8 million
    • 18-24:  36 million
    • 25-34:  51 million
    • 35-53:  67 million
    • 55+:     41 million


Based on these statistics, it’s clear that the number of young demographic users ages 13-24 has decreased, while demographic users ages 25-55+ has increased. It will be interesting in a few years to see how Facebook’s main user age demographic changes.


Fake News


Facebook has had its problems along the way, the most notable being the issue of fake news. Fake news is when media outlets via news and articles misinform people about trending and popular topics. It isn’t exclusive to a specific topic. Fake News can be about anything from politics to entertainment.

When the issue of fake news first emerged in Fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg took this problem seriously. Below is a post from him talking about how Facebook plans to combat fake news and misinformation.


Recently, Facebook took the step of getting rid of Disputed Flags to identify false information. Instead, they plan on using their Related Articles Facebook feature to filter through fake news. So far, they have found that using Related Articles is far better at sifting through fake news than the flags.


Face Filters, Messenger Kids, and More Facebook Features!


In recent years, Facebook has released some useful and entertaining features both people and businesses love. Below are five of those Facebook features.

  • Face Filters

This new and popular face filter feature debuted in March 2017. Facebook expanded upon Snapchat’s idea but incorporated a pop-culture aspect that users would enjoy. For example, you can use the face filter to transform yourself into a Game of Thrones White Walker. Other notable brands using face filters include Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Star Wars.

  • Live Video

A great Facebook feature that is useful for brands and businesses is Live Video. This feature was introduced to users in April 2016. Users can take videos of themselves or their surroundings live, and interact with those watching. Just like a normal post, those that are watching can comment and like the live video. This feature is specifically great for business and brands who want to make important announcements, interact with and listen to customers, or live stream from their special events.

  • Marketplace

If you are looking to sell or buy anything from items to services to an apartment, now you can do it through Facebook. There’s no longer any need to use eBay or Craigslist because you can just go on Facebook Marketplace. It’s easy to use and convenient since many people are on Facebook all of the time.  

  • Order Food

This is another attempt by Facebook to keep users in the app longer. With the Order Food feature, which came out in October 2017, users can easily order food through Facebook. They teamed up with popular food ordering sites and chains like Delivery.com, DoorDash, Five Guys, and Panera Bread.

  • Messenger Kids

Facebook is now targeting younger kids (ages 6-12) who can’t use the platform. The Messenger Kids App is a fun and safe way for kids to message friends and family. They can play around with fun photo stickers and face filters like a dinosaur. With younger kids increasingly using cell phones, Facebook thought this would be a good app for concerned parents.  


News Feed


Facebook was originally created to connect friends and family. However, over the years it has veered off its original path and developed as more of a platform for businesses, news outlets, and brands. Well, Facebook recently made a huge decision about its News Feed that will change Facebook as we know it today. They decided to prioritize posts from friends and family on a person’s feed before brands, businesses, and outlets.

Facebook is currently working on this change and many users are not sure what the result will look like. Businesses and brands are panicking over this change as most have spent years working on increasing their reach, influence, and page followers. The question remains, how will this change really impact all users and brands? Once the change is officially implemented, we will find out the answer. 

View the video below to learn more about this big decision.


Facebook has definitely transformed into something extraordinary since its beginning at Harvard University. Who knew that just an idea from a college student could grow into something that truly impacts society. The creation of Facebook and all that came with it shaped today’s social media age. Many big and exciting changes are expected in Facebook’s future.

Related Article: On or Off The Grid? How Social Media Affects Our Lives

About Holly Zink
I am interested in everything digital media and tech! Videos, photography, social media.

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