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10 years of Facebook: How a college campus site turned into a gigantic social network

It was February 2004.

‘Email’ and the ‘internet’ were just tech buzzwords and social media only a new phenonmenon. And while tech giants like Google and Microsoft were busy in making it more convenient for the professionals, some Harvard University freshman thought of stepping up the World Wide Web on a universal scale. Building on their successes with a few campus networking sites (cousematch.com and facemash.com), the Harvard undergrads finally developed TheFacebook.com, which was to be subsequently renamed as only ‘Facebook’. The website fetched some 1200 Harvard students on its first day, but now boasts as the World’s no.1 social platform with an overwhelming 1.1 billion people. That’s close to half of the current internet population!

Ten years of Facebook

Did it Really Evolve?

Mark Zuckerberg, who is seen as the primary founder of Facebook, envisioned his universal website to run with the same pace as the technology. This was indeed one of the common weaknesses Facebook’s predecessors like Orkut and MySpace ignored.

Facebook continues to retain the spirit of continuous but timely innovation. When it saw people migrating conversations on phone, for example, it came up with its mobile apps. When it saw the concerns of online privacy, it introduced options to control it. And the list goes…

Facebook for everyone…is the theme that has remained intact from the time of the website’s invention. We saw it when businesses and celebrities made their brand pages, we saw it when causes and events were organized on Facebook, and we witnessed it when Facebook gave everyone the chance to (at least) become a follower of our public posts. In total, Facebook chased you in every walk of life.

Ten years of Facebook

Does Facebook Matter?

Yes. Just give a quick review of your FB posts and you’ll find how you have contributed in educating, informing, entertaining or showing your feelings to your network friends. And if you’ve ever seen your ‘activity log’ on your Facebook profile, you might be wondered skim through the various ways in which you or someone voiced a particular idea, photo, event, cause or something in some manner.

There might be instances where ‘Nobody did anything’ on a particular post, but even in that scenario you’ve got a part of your online behavior you can cherish for as long as you are a facebooker.

Ten years of Facebook

Life Turned Out To Be Wonderful on Facebook

Facebook has been instrumental in building and maintaining relationships online. Revisit your Facebook friend’s list and you’ll find people you’ve loved, hated, envied, played, worked along or interacted at some point of life. Skim through your photo albums and you’ll recount your good and bad times. Review your earlier status updates and you’ll be surprised to find how stupid (or intelligent) you’ve been in the past. For many of us, Facebook is one little roller coaster ride into our life’s journey.

Ten years of Facebook
But it Also Screwed up in Many Ways

No one can deny how Facebook has screwed or hurt people in different ways. There have been countless incidences of cyber bullying, defamation and political activism that has literally shaken the lives of individuals and governments.

And you must have heard of the ruthless ‘Burn Quran Day’ organized as an FB event in the past, besides countless breakup stories that were initiated on Facebook. There are also examples when Facebook’s ‘What’s on your mind’ was used as a space for suicide note.

But that is it. In fact, these downsides are comparable to other social networks like Twitter. Technology has its costs, and Facebook can’t outright eliminate them.

Are we happy with Facebook?

If you have an active Facebook account, yes!

You might have faced a few occasional outbursts when you had nothing good to say when the whole world was cheering, moving places, getting promotions, entering a relationship, become parents and so on.

Ten years of Facebook

Like me, you might also have had faced a dejected feeling when an old mate just ‘unfriended’ you on pretext. There might be posts you later deleted out of shame; there might be comments on your photo that sound racist, envious or pure hatred, and there might be people you yourself restricted or blocked. But trust me, others have felt and done the same way. You could have bragged about your achievements in the same manner as your Facebook friends. If there was a dislike button we could make use of, facebookers could easily spit out their frustration right away. But that is not something FB developer would prefer for the users. If you’ve nothing good to say, go away!

Or like once popular FB status said, you could make the following wish when overly boastful post mad you feel bad.

 

I hope your life is as good as you pretend it is on facebook

End Thought

The internet revolution had already taken the world by storm when Facebook was introduced ten years ago. Going with the same pace of innovation as that of technology, Facebook appears to cast a deep influence in all aspects of our life. A few minutes of stalking your friends profile can tell you what it’s going around in their worlds. It can give you ideas with which you can match or even better your own experiences.

The decade old social network is now embracing a new form. With features like graph search, followership and feel posts, many people fear that the future of Facebook could be too intrusive for our everyday life. On the positive side, however, it could also turn into a more harmonious digital platform needed for a free society.

 

This article was published in the February 2014 print edition of Alpha+ Magazine and Awaz-e-Pakistan.

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