Facebook: Facebook is an online social networking site.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is an online social networking site that was started in 2004. It is mainly used for keeping in touch with current and old friends, family members and colleagues. Users can create an account, add friends, then send messages or post photos, information, update statuses, share links, etc. Other members can then view these updates and like or comment on them.

Facebook is available in 37 different languages so far. It also contains certain security features that allow a user to select what information can be seen by which member or by anybody at all.

Facebook also contains the following features:

  • Timeline – allows members to see the posts, photos, and other information shared by the user in a chronological manner.
  • Photo Album – allows members to see all the user’s photos in one location.
  • Marketplace – allows members to post, read and respond to classified ads.
  • Groups – allows members who have common interests to find each other and interact.
  • Events – allows members to publicize an event, invite guests and track who plans to attend.
  • Pages – allows members to create and promote a public page built around a specific topic.
  • Presence technology – allows members to see which contacts are online and chat.

Who started Facebook?

Facebook was started by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, with the help of his then college roommates and friends Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.

Facebook essentially allows user to create accounts on the website. Each user can then personalize their account, and post information about themselves, including photos, personal information, status updates, etc. Users can then friend other users and see their information. This allows users to connect and share information with other people, including family and friends.

What does the name “Facebook” mean?

The name “Facebook” comes from the same name applied to books given to students by some universities at the start of the term. These books contained the photos of the students and a bit of biography. The aim of these facebooks was to help students get to know their classmates. Similarly, Facebook aims to connect users all over the world, allowing them to get to known each other and make connections.

Where did Facebook come from?

The idea of Facebook was inspired by the fact that Harvard did not have a student directory with photos and basic information of all the students. At the time, each dormitory had its own facebook. So, basically there was no place where one may find out information about one of their classmates.

Eventually, Mark Zuckerberg developed “FaceMash” with the help of Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz. The website worked basically as “Hot or Not,” a popular website at the time. On FaceMash, users could compare the photos of two students and rate who was hot or not.

After this, Zuckerberg started working on a website, “thefacebook”. The website was to be a centralized student facebook for Harvard. He was quoted at the time saying, "It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available ... the benefits are many." He claimed that it would take Harvard a couple of years to get a centralized facebook. He was quoted in the school newspaper as "Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it as I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week." The website was so popular that within the first month, half the undergraduate student population was a member on the site.

After its success at Harvard, the site was expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. It then opened to all Ivy League colleges and Boston-area schools. Eventually, the site was opened to most of the colleges in the United States, as well as Canada. The next step was opening Facebook to high schools. After that, it was only a matter of time that Facebook was opened to the general public. Facebook dropped the “the” in its name in 2005, and the rest is history.

What was the controversy surrounding Facebook?

Six days after the launch of Facebook, three Harvard University seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of stealing their ideas to create Facebook. The claimed that Zuckerberg ‘intentionally mislead them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, but instead used their idea to build a competing product.’

The seniors then lodged a complaint with the Harvard Administrative Board and university president Larry Summers. They urged the Harvard administration to act on what they viewed as a violation of the university’s honor code and student handbook. The school newspaper, the Harvard Crimson also launched its own investigation into the matter. However, both the Harvard administration and Summers believed that the matter was outside of the university's jurisdiction. They recommended the seniors to take up the matter in a legal court.

In 2004, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra filed a lawsuit against Facebook. They claimed that its creator Mark Zuckerberg has entered into an oral contract to help them develop their social networking site, HarvardConnection but instead used the idea and their code to develop his own social networking site, thefacebook. Eventually, an agreement for $65 million was reached between the two sides.

How many people use Facebook?

Facebook started in February 2004, at the time it was restricted to student of particular colleges; first Harvard, then other colleges. Facebook was then opened to other high schools and other institutions. Eventually, due to the popularity of the site, it was opened to the general public.

According to the Facebook Blog, on August 26, 2008, Facebook hit its first 100 million users’ mark. On July 21, 2010, Facebook officially had 500 million users.

In January 2013:

  • United States had 168.8 million members
  • Brazil had 64.6 million members
  • India had 62.6 million members
  • Indonesia had 51.4 million members
  • Mexico had 40.2 million members

As of March 31, 2013, Facebook had 1,110 million users; that’s 1.1 billion.

What are some of the negative aspects of Facebook?

One of the major concerns of Facebook, is that depending on the privacy settings of the user, their information may be available to the general public. This includes one’s co-workers, bosses, etc., but also people who may use this information to steal one’s identity.

Another concern is that Facebook has been used by stalkers and predators to target people, including little kids. This is why Facebook is limited to children over the age of 13, but a lot of people lie on the signup page and create account before they are allowed to. In fact, as there is no strict regulation on the matter, people have been known to lie about more than their age. It is alleged that as many as 8% of Facebook accounts are fake.

As many people post their own person opinions on Facebook, Facebook had been banned in countries, such as People's Republic of China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Bangladesh, at one time or another. These bans were mainly due to anti-Islamic content and content containing religious discrimination posted by some users on the website.

Facebook has also been banned at various workplaces, as it claims that it cuts in to the employee’s productivity. Facebook has also been criticized for facilitating cases of cyber-bulling, stalking and instances of violence and abuse. However, it must also be stated that Facebook and social media in general has also helped facilitate revolutions, reunite lost family members and even helped win elections. 

Image Courtesy: mashable.com, dailymail.co.uk

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