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Facebook history

The evolution of a social media superpower.

Millions of people log into Facebook everyday. It’s the main way we keep up with our friends, tell people what we’re listening to or reading and just generally say what’s on our minds.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004. Facebook was new but social networking wasn’t. There were already big names in the game, like Myspace and Friendster. But those sites eventually faded and Facebook went on to become the most popular social network in the world.

It’s hard to imagine how a hub for baby photos and status updates about our weekends is worth as much as a hundred billion dollars. But if we look back at the company’s origins we can see how it evolved from a scrappy start-up to the company worth more than Ford Motors or Craft Foods.

There wasn’t much to early social networking sites but by 2006, users were ready for something dynamic, that year Facebook introduced its newsfeed, drawing people back to the site continuously to see what their friends were doing and to post updates themselves.

In 2007 Facebook announced Facebook platform, which allowed outside developers to build applications for the site. Developers jumped on the chance to access Facebook’s audience and the new games and other applications gave everyone a reason to login even more often. Then, Facebook took to the wider web through Facebook Connect. Many sites started letting users login with their Facebook credentials so that they could interact with their Facebook friends across the internet.

But with each new way to share Facebook created wrinkles in its privacy policies. It was clear that what Facebook wanted was different than what its users wanted. Or at least that’s what many people thought. The backlash was probably inevitable for a site that had become such a major part of people’s lives.

The latest redesign included a feature called timeline, which organizes all of your status updates, photos and other activities into a chronological scrapbook. Many people might shudder at the idea of this kind of permanent record. But for Facebook it’s a logical step. Sharing not only who you are but also where you came from.

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