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The History of Facebook – How Facebook Came to Be

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Facebook is by far the hottest social media topic discussed today but do you have any idea how it was created? What’s the history of Facebook? How it all started?


The year is 2003, Myspace is king of all social media and Mark Zuckerberg is just an unknown student busy working away on a psychology degree at Harvard. However, Mark has no intention of going into a traditional career in psychology. Instead the innovative young entrepreneur spends his spare time honing his computer programming skills. First by creating campus based social networking site Coursematch, which allowed people studying at Harvard to see who else was taking courses similar to them. Before moving onto Facemash, a system which allowed students to rank other students based on their looks.

Facemash is widely believed to be the site which represents the direct predecessor to Facebook. It was launched in late October 2003, and was referred to as Harvard University’s very own Hot or Not by the school paper. Facemash worked by placing pictures of two students side by side, at which point the user would choose which one was more attractive than the other. The initial launch of the site made use of the private photos taken for internal use by nine Greek Houses from around Harvard, which Zuckerberg obtained by hacking into the encrypted portions of the Universities student database.

The site was forwarded around various campus email lists, from which it gathered some fairly serious attention. Within four hours of going online Facemash had received some four hundred and fifty visitors, who viewed more than twenty two thousand pictures between them. Unfortunately the experiment didn’t last long, as Facemash was shut down by the Universities administration after only a few days. Zuckerberg came close to being expelled for breaching the schools security measures, as well for his casual violation of people’s personal privacy, but he somehow managed to come out of the incident relatively unscathed to continue his studies.

Facebook – Early Days

Mark continued to expand on the platform he had developed with Facemash, using the same technology later in the semester to help develop a learning aid for his art history class. The new version of the tool took five hundred images from the class and placed them on a website, this time only one image appeared per page and there was a section for each student to leave their thoughts on the picture (which included the ability to read what others thought).

It wasn’t until early 2004 that Zuckerberg would begin working on the site that would actually become the Facebook we know and love today, supposedly inspired by an article in the Harvard Crimson (the Universities paper), which made him realize just how much of a buzz Facemash had created amongst his fellow students. Mark began working on his new project once he returned to school in January, launching the beta site on the fourth of February 2004.

The Facebook was originally launched as an online year book of sorts for the staff and students of Harvard, within which people would maintain control over their own pages. In just a day over twelve hundred students had signed up to secure their place on the site, by the end of the first month more than half of all undergraduates studying at Harvard had made pages for themselves. It wasn’t long before Zuckerberg extended the invitation to join the site to students at other universities in Boston, then the rest of the Ivy League, and soon any US university that wanted to get involved was welcome to come aboard.

It wasn’t until August 2005 that the site converted into simply, when Zuckerberg purchased the domain name for a staggering two hundred thousand dollars. In September of that year the site began to expand to incorporate US high schools, and in October Facebook crossed the Atlantic to arrive at universities around the UK.


In September of 2006 Facebook would open its doors to anyone who wanted to register an account, moving firmly into position to become the social media giant it is known as today. The site does not charge to register, instead making money by selling space for onsite advertisements as well as through a share of the profits from Facebook credits (used for making purchases from Apps within the Facebook ecosystem). Since its launch there have been several attempts by major corporations to initiate a purchase of Facebook, with some sources claiming as much as two billion dollars having been offered for the world’s second most popular website, though Zuckerberg has always refused to sell.

Microsoft became the first company to announce it had bought any meaningful shares in the company, when in October 2007, they purchased one point six percent of Facebook for two hundred and forty million dollars. Implying that at the time Zuckerberg was estimating the value of his creation at around fifteen billion dollars. September 2009 was the first time the company announced it had turned a true profit, though it can be forgiven for taking so long. By this point Facebook had seen several years of truly unprecedented growth, not only in terms of users but in terms of infrastructure as well, forcing the company to invest heavily in vast amounts of hardware to ensure a smooth end users experience. In March 2010 they even managed to beat Google in terms of traffic volume going through their site, though only for a week

Not only is Facebook the most visited social networking site in English speaking countries, it has also achieved total market dominance in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam as well. As of June 2010, the internal marketplace where the companies private stock holders trade their shares would suggest that Facebook is worth somewhere in the region of eleven billion dollars.

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18 Replies

  1. This is one of the best articles on Facebook i have come across so far…
    Thanks a lot for sharing the information!

  2. I should have invented facebook. If you ask me facebook is a game we called Jewish Geography. Facebook is just Jewish Geography on steroids.

    Congrats to mark Zuckerberg for making it work.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Mellisa!

    @Stacy, great comparison :)

  4. Interesting article.I think one reason that facebook is the bigger social network is that isn’t so horny as Hi5.

  5. Hey there,

    perfect timing for such a great article – just now where the movie “the social network” came out. 😉

    Take care,

  6. If you are interested in some of the trials and tribulations Mark Zuckerberg had faced during the creation of Facebook I highly recommend the movie “The Social Network”.

    If any of you know if Mark Zuckerberg’s Live Journal blog from his Harvard days is still online please share the web address. I would love to have a read but can’t seem to find it.


  7. Just saw the movie, it is not saying much, but point some business process when success know the door.

  8. It’s always interesting to know the roots of something that is so big/successful and funnily most of these things start out just as hobbies.

  9. Tony Crochet Mar 30th 2012

    Purely outstanding and the best part is that you guys have no clue how much you’ve changed the world of multimedia. I loved the movie and love the fact that such a huge historic event, Facebook, happened in my lifetime. Congrats to you and your staff for your success. I need a job!! Lol

  10. We have already finished the article covering the history of Facebook. Check it out! If you find out anything valuable, what could be added, please let me know!

  11. harsimran Oct 29th 2012

    add me on facebook ”” :-)

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