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[Exclusive] What if there was no FACEBOOK?

Brief history of Facebook

Facebook is an American company offering online social networking services. Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, all of whom were students at Harvard University. Facebook became the largest social network in the world, with more than one billion users as of 2012, and about half that number were using Facebook every day. The company’s headquarters are in Menlo Park, California.

The company has a complicated early history. It began at Harvard University in 2003 as Facemash, an online service for students to judge the attractiveness of their fellow students. Because the primary developer, Zuckerberg, violated university policy in acquiring resources for the service, it was shut down after two days. Despite its mayfly like existence, 450 people (who voted 22,000 times) flocked to Facemash. That success prompted Zuckerberg to register the URL http://www.thefacebook.com in January 2004. He then created a new social network at that address with fellow students Saverin, Moskovitz, and Hughes.

The social network TheFacebook.com launched in February 2004. Harvard students who signed up for the service could post photographs of themselves and personal information about their lives, such as their class schedules and clubs they belonged to. Its popularity increased, and soon students from other prestigious schools, such as Yale and Stanford universities, were allowed to join. By June 2004 more than 250,000 students from 34 schools had signed up, and that same year major corporations such as the credit-card company, MasterCard started paying for exposure on the site.

In September 2004, TheFacebook added the Wall to a member’s online profile. This widely used feature let a user’s friends post information on their Wall and became a key element in the social aspect of the network. By the end of 2004, TheFacebook had reached one million active users. However, the company still trailed the then-leading online social network, Myspace, which boasted five million members.

In 2006, Facebook opened its membership beyond students to anyone over the age of 13. Privacy remains an ongoing problem for Facebook. It first became a serious issue for the company in 2006, when it introduced News Feed, which consisted of every change that a user’s friends had made to their pages. After an outcry from users, Facebook swiftly implemented privacy controls in which users could control what content appeared in News Feed. In 2007, Facebook launched a short-lived service called Beacon that let members’ friends see what products they had purchased from participating companies. It failed because members felt that it encroached on their privacy. Indeed, a survey of consumers in 2010 put Facebook in the bottom 5 percent of companies in customer satisfaction largely because of privacy concerns, and the company continues to be criticized for the complexity of its user privacy controls and for the frequent changes it makes to them.

In 2008 Facebook surpassed Myspace as the most-visited social media Web site. With the introduction of Live Feed, the company also took a competitive swing at the growing popularity of Twitter, a social network that runs a live feed of news service-like posts from members whom a user follows. Similar to Twitter’s ongoing stream of user posts, Live Feed pushed posts from friends automatically to a member’s homepage. (Live Feed has since been incorporated into News Feed.)

Facebook has become a powerful tool for political movements, beginning with the U.S. presidential election of 2008, when more than 1,000 Facebook groups were formed in support of either Democratic candidate Barack Obama or Republican candidate John McCain.

What You Can Do on Facebook

Establish a Timeline

When you sign up for Facebook, one of the first things you do is establish your Timeline, originally referred to as Profile. The reason Facebook calls this a Timeline and not a profile is because Timelines are much more than just an at-a-glance bio. Timelines become an ongoing history of your life on Facebook.

Connect with friends

You should also know about ways to connect your Timeline to the Timelines of your acquaintances. These connections are called friendships. Friending people enables you to communicate and share with them more easily. Friends are basically the reason Facebook can be so powerful and useful to people. Facebook offers the following tools to help you find your friends:

  • Facebook Friend Finder: Enables you to scan the e-mail addresses in your e-mail address book to find whether those people are already on Facebook.
  • People You May Know: Shows you the names and pictures of people you likely know. These people are selected for you based on commonalities like where you live or work or how many friends you have in common.
  • Search: Helps you find the people who are most likely already using Facebook.

Communicate with Facebook friends

As Facebook grows, it becomes more likely that anyone with whom you’re trying to communicate can be reached. These days it’s a fairly safe assumption that you’ll be able to find that person you just met at a dinner party, an old professor from college, or the childhood friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

Share your thoughts

Maybe you’re proud of the club you support, maybe you’re excited for Friday, or maybe you can’t believe what you saw on the way to work this morning. All day long, things are happening to all of you that make you just want to turn to our friends and say, “You know what?” Facebook gives you the stage and an eager audience.

Share your pictures

Some people use Facebook as a picture-saving app. Facebook offers three great incentives for uploading, organizing, and editing your photos:

  • Facebook provides one easy-to-access location for all your photos. Directing any interested person to your Facebook Timeline is a very easy method of sharing.
  • Every photo you upload can be linked to the Timelines of the people in the photo. For example, you upload pictures of you and your sister and link them to her Timeline.

Plan Events, join Groups

Facebook is meant to facilitate interactions when face time isn’t possible or to facilitate the planning of face time. Two of the greatest tools for this are Events and Groups.

Promote a cause or business

Pages look almost exactly like Timelines, just for the not-quite-people among us. Instead of becoming friends with Pages, you can like them. So, when you like a television show, you’ll start to see updates from that Page on your Home page. Liking Pages for businesses or causes helps you stay up-to-date with news from them.

If you’re the one managing something like a small business, a cause, or a newsletter, you can also create a page. After you’ve created that page, your users/customers/fans can like it, and then you can update them with news about whatever’s going on in the world of your store/cause/thing.

The 5 best Facebook alternatives for Android and iOS

Whether you’re a part of the #DeleteFacebook crowd or the ‘Time Well Spent’ movement, these are your best alternatives to the world’s largest social network.

Twitter

Pro: Twitter is a great platform to broadcast your thoughts to a wider audience and catch breaking news stories.

Con: Be brief because you’re limited to 280 characters for status updates.

Instagram

Pro: Instagram keeps you in touch with the happier/prettier/friends-and-family side of your social network.

Con: You’ll still be supporting Facebook’s bottom line, if that’s something you’re trying to avoid.

Snapchat

Pro: Snapchat is great for posting more private messages that don’t keep a permanent record on the internet.

Con: Snapchat doesn’t have a very intuitive user experience and it appeals mostly to a younger audience, who appear to be using it less since the advent of Instagram Stories.

Pinterest

Pro: Pinterest provides amazing idea boards to inspire your next outfit, meal, vacation, or wedding.

Con: Most ideas remain aspirational and too cost- or time-prohibitive to implement in everyday life.

LinkedIn

Pro: LinkedIn is the go-to place to network with work colleagues and find new job opportunities.

Con: If you’re using LinkedIn for messaging, don’t be surprised if you’re waiting weeks for responses, unless you’re messaging someone in HR or a job seeker who’s on LinkedIn every day.

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