Happy Birthday: Facebook turns eight today

Facebook may seem like it has been around for quite some time, but the company is only eight years old today. Happy Birthday Facebook!
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Facebook, the world's most popular social network, launched on February 4, 2004. That year, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was planning to sell Facebook off to a bigger company, but he ended up building it into a multi-billion dollar business instead, which just filed to go public two days ago. As of December 31, 2011, Facebook has over 845 million monthly users, over 483 million daily users, and over 425 million mobile users. Today, the company is eight years old. Happy Birthday Facebook!

While Mark Zuckerberg is best known as the man who built Facebook, the company has three other co-founders, all college roommates and fellow students of Harvard University: Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. The four initially built the service exclusively for Harvard students, but it was soon expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. They gradually added support for students at various other universities, and eventually expanded to allow for high school students as well. Now, anyone aged 13 and over can register on the social network.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates websites that collect information about users (like Facebook) aren't allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. Currently, millions of Facebook users are below the minimum age and the company admits there is no single solution for enforcing age restrictions. Zuckerberg believes, however, the age limit should be removed.

As part of its IPO this week, Facebook didn't just release numbers, but pictures as well. One of them was a blurry timeline of the company's history, which I've transcribed for you below:

  • February 2004: Founded under the name thefacebook.com at Harvard University.
  • September 2004: Introduced the Facebook Wall, a forum for users to post messages to their friends.
  • 2004: Began to expand to colleges and universities around the country.
  • 2004: Recorded $382,000 in revenue.
  • May 2005: Grew to support more than 800 college networks.
  • September 2005: Added high school networks.
  • October 2005: Added international school networks and introduced Photos.
  • 2005: Recorded $9 million in revenue.
  • April 2006: Launched Facebook Mobile.
  • May 2006: Expanded Facebook's availability to workplace networks.
  • August 2006: Rolled out first version of the Facebook API.
  • September 2006: Opened registration broadly; introduced News Feed.
  • November 2006: Launched Share feature on over 20 partner sites.
  • 2006: Recorded $48 million in revenue.
  • May 2007: Launched the Facebook Platform with 65 developers and 85 apps.
  • November 2007: Launched self-service ad platform and Facebook Pages.
  • 2007: Recorded $153 million in revenue.
  • April 2008: Introduced Chat for users to instant message with their friends.
  • December 2008: Launched Facebook Connect, the next iteration of the Facebook Platform.
  • 2008: Expanded to 23 languages offered including French, German, and Spanish.
  • 2008: Recorded $272 million in revenue.
  • February 2009: Introduced the Like button, which lets users connect with things they care about both on and off Facebook.
  • May 2009: Launched Facebook Payments.
  • 2009: Recorded $777 million in revenue.
  • April 2010: Introduced Graph API, a new programming interface for the Facebook Platform, and Social plugins, a set of easy-to-use modules allowing anyone to integrate with the Facebook Platform.
  • October 2010: Launched Groups, a shared space for users to discuss common interests.
  • 2010: Recorded $1,974 million in revenue.
  • September 2011: Introduced Timeline, an enhanced and updated version of the Facebook Profile.
  • September 2011: Launched the next iteration of Open Graph.
  • 2011: Recorded $3,711 million in revenue.

The name "Facebook" stems from the term used for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some university administrations in the U.S. Facebook, the service, has completely transformed our definition of "facebook" the word. Instead of denoting a physical book used infrequently by millions of American students, it now refers to a social network frequently used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

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