Facebook Changed the World

Facebook was created by a group in a Harvard dormitory in 2004, which included chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, and it has grown to become one of the largest technology companies in the world with Meta, the parent firm of Facebook and its other parts including Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.ago. 

Today, Facebook remains one of the most influential pieces of technology in the world, and despite recent scandals it celebrates its 20th anniversary and current one in seven people worldwide used this social network in a week. 

Although Facebook wasn't the first social media platform to bring people together, it is, by far, the most successful. With Facebook, many people can keep their circles updated with the events in their lives, no matter how near or far they are. Other social networks, such as MySpace, existed before Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg's site instantly took off when it launched in 2004, proving just how rapidly an online site of this kind could take hold.

Facebook has made it easy to share memories by letting users post photos and videos and tag people in them. So it allowed people who've met and interacted in real life to keep an online repository of their shared memories, making it easier to reconnect with these people. In less than a year it had one million users, and within four years it had overtaken MySpace, fuelled by innovations such as the ability to "tag" people in photos. Taking a digital camera on a night out, then tagging your friends in dozens of pictures was a staple of teenage life in the last two  decade. The constantly changing activity feed was also a big draw for early users.

By 2012, Facebook had surpassed one billion users a month and, aside from a brief blip at the end of 2021 the platform has continued to grow.

By expanding into less connected countries and offering free internet, the company has maintained and increased the number of Facebook users. At the end of 2023, Facebook reported it had 2.11 billion daily users. Admittedly, Facebook is less popular than it used to be with young people. Nonetheless, it remains the most popular social network in the world, and has ushered in a new era of social activity online. 

Some see Facebook and its rivals as empowering tools for connectivity. Others see them as addictive agents of destruction.

Facebook Made Personal Data Valuable

Facebook proved that collecting our likes and dislikes is extremely lucrative. These days, Facebook's parent company Meta is an advertising giant which, alongside the likes of Google, takes the lion's share of global advertising money. Mete said it had £32b in revenue in the last quarter of 2023 and $14b was profit. 

But Facebook has also shown where data collection can go awry. Meta has been fined multiple times for mishandling personal data. 

The most publicised case was the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2014, which led to Facebook paying $725m to settle legal action due to a significant data breach. 

Political Facebook 

By offering targeted advertising, Facebook has become a major platform for election campaigning around the world. For the UK 2015 general election, both main parties, Labour and the Conservatives, showed how important social media was for their campaigns by importing the consultants of the world’s first real social media election, the 2008 victory of Barack Obama in the US. In the five months leading up to the US presidential election of 2020, incumbent President Donald Trump's team spent more than $40m on Facebook adverts, according to Statista research. 

Facebook has had a hand in changing grassroots politics too - by enabling disparate groups of users to gather, campaign and plan action on a global scale. 

Facebook and Twitter were said to be crucial during the Arab Spring in helping to co-ordinate protests and spread the news about what was happening on the ground. But the adoption of Facebook for political ends has been criticised for some of its consequences, including its impact on human rights. In 2018, Facebook agreed with a UN report that said it had failed to prevent people using the platform to "incite offline violence" against Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Facebook Formed The Basis Meta's Technology Empire

With the huge success of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg built a social network and technology empire that remains unprecedented in terms of users and its consequent power. Up-and-coming companies, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus, were all purchased and turbo-charged under the umbrella company Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in 2021. Meta now says more than three billion people use at least one of its products every day.

And when it hasn't been able to buy its rivals, Meta has often been accused of copying them - in order to maintain its dominance. 

Facebook and Instagram's disappearing Stories feature is similar to a key feature found on Snapchat; Instagram Reels is the company's answer to the challenge posed by video-sharing app TikTok; and Threads is Meta's attempt to imitate X, formerly known as Twitter.

Tactics have become more important than ever, thanks to the increased competition and a more strict regulatory environment. 

In 2022, Meta was forced to sell GIF-maker Giphy at a loss after UK regulators blocked it from owning the service due to fears of over-dominance in the market.

The Next 20 Years

Facebook's rise and continued dominance is testament to Mark Zuckerberg's ability to keep the site relevant. 
On its 10th anniversary many outlets, questioned whether the platform would still be around for its 20th. But the reality is maintaining its crown as the most popular social network will be a monumental challenge over the next 20 years. That's not just because the industry, as always, is changing at breakneck speed, but because Meta itself is now pushing heavily towards building its business around the idea of the Metaverse and Artificial Intelligence is also a major priority for Meta. 

Meta is, at least to some extent, moving on from Facebook. Whether the world is, given its enduring popularity, remains to be seen.

And so what started as a directory for Harvard students in 2003 became a global phenomenon with over 2 billion users. With over 25% of the living population signed up for the social media platform, Facebook is indeed a significant part of our society and, although Facebook, now Meta, is hounded by several issues, it is beyond argument that it has also brought a positive change to humanity. 

But no matter how big a company grows, there's still no telling what the future will hold - only time will tell if Facebook will go on to have an influence on us in the future.

BBC:     Yahoo:    Guardian:    Vijesti:    RealClear Markets:   Techlusive:      MakeUseOf:

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