2003–2006: Thefacebook, Thiel investment, and name change
Zuckerberg built a website called "Facemash" in 2003 while attending Harvard University. The site was comparable to Hot or Not and used "photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the "hotter" person". Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours. The site was sent to several campus group list-servers, but was shut down a few days later by Harvard administration. Zuckerberg faced expulsion and was charged with breaching security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy. Ultimately, the charges were dropped. Zuckerberg expanded on this project that semester by creating a social study tool ahead of an art history final exam. He uploaded all art images to a website, each of which was accompanied by a comments section, then shared the site with his classmates.
Original layout and name of Thefacebook, 2004
A "face book" is a student directory featuring photos and personal information. In 2003, Harvard had only a paper version along with private online directories. Zuckerberg told the Crimson, "Everyone's been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. ... I think it's kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week." In January 2004, Zuckerberg coding a new website, known as "TheFacebook", inspired by a Crimson editorial about Facemash, stating, "It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available ... the benefits are many." Zuckerberg met with Harvard student Eduardo Saverin, and each of them agreed to invest $1,000 in the site. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched "TheFacebook", originally located at thefacebook.com.
Six days after the site launched, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com. They claimed that he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product. The three complained to the Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. They later sued Zuckerberg, settling in 2008 for 1.2 million shares (worth $300 million at Facebook's IPO).
Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College. Within a month, more than half the undergraduates had registered. Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCollum, and Chris Hughes joined Zuckerberg to help manage the growth of the website. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to Columbia, Stanford and Yale. and then to all Ivy League colleges, Boston University, New York University, MIT, Washington and successively most universities in the United States and Canada.
In mid-2004, Napster co-founder and entrepreneur Sean Parker—an informal advisor to Zuckerberg—became company president. In June 2004, the company moved to Palo Alto, California. It received its first investment later that month from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. In 2005, the company dropped "the" from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com for US$200,000. The domain had belonged to AboutFace Corporation.
In May 2005, Accel Partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer added $1 million of his own money. A high-school version of the site launched in September 2005. Eligibility expanded to include employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft.
2006–2012: public access, Microsoft alliance, and rapid growth
On September 26, 2006, Facebook opened to everyone at least 13 years old with a valid email address. By late 2007, Facebook had 100,000 pages on which companies promoted themselves. Organization pages began rolling out in May 2009. On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion. Microsoft's purchase included rights to place international advertisements.
In October 2008, Facebook announced that its international headquarters would locate in Dublin, Ireland. In September 2009, Facebook said that it had achieved positive cash flow for the first time. A January 2009 Compete.com study ranked Facebook the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users.
The company announced 500 million users in July 2010. Half of the site's membership used Facebook daily, for an average of 34 minutes, while 150 million users accessed the site from mobile devices. A company representative called the milestone a "quiet revolution." In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc. (an exchange for privately held companies' shares), Facebook's value was $41 billion. The company had slightly surpassed eBay to become the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.
On November 15, 2010, Facebook announced it had acquired the domain name fb.com from the American Farm Bureau Federation for an undisclosed amount. On January 11, 2011, the Farm Bureau disclosed $8.5 million in "domain sales income", making the acquisition of FB.com one of the ten highest domain sales in history.
In February 2011, Facebook announced plans to move its headquarters to the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, California. In March 2011, it was reported that Facebook was removing about 20,000 profiles daily for violations such as spam, graphic content and underage use, as part of its efforts to boost cyber security. Statistics showed that Facebook reached one trillion page views in the month of June 2011, making it the most visited website tracked by DoubleClick. According to a Nielsen study, Facebook had in 2011 become the second-most accessed website in the U.S. behind Google.
Facebook was blocked by China in 2009.
2012–2013: IPO, lawsuits, and one-billionth user
In March 2012, Facebook announced App Center, a store selling applications that operate via the website. The store was to be available on iPhones, Android devices, and mobile web users. In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock.
Facebook's initial public offering came on May 17, 2012, at a share price of US$38. The company was valued at $104 billion, the largest valuation to that date. The IPO raised $16 billion, the third-largest in U.S. history, after Visa Inc. in 2008 and AT&T Wireless in 2000. Based on its 2012 income of $5 billion, Facebook joined the Fortune 500 list for the first time in May 2013, ranked 462. The shares set a first day record for trading volume of an IPO (460 million shares). The IPO was controversial given the immediate price declines that followed. and was the subject of lawsuits, while SEC and FINRA both launched investigations.
Billboard on the Thomson Reuters
building welcomes Facebook to NASDAQ, 2012
Zuckerberg announced at the start of October 2012 that Facebook had one billion monthly active users, including 600 million mobile users, 219 billion photo uploads and 140 billion friend connections.
2013–2014: Site developments, A4AI, and 10th anniversary
On January 15, 2013, Facebook announced Facebook Graph Search, which provides users with a "precise answer", rather than a link to an answer by leveraging data present on its site. Facebook emphasized that the feature would be "privacy-aware", returning results only from content already shared with the user. On April 3, 2013, Facebook unveiled Facebook Home, a user-interface layer for Android devices offering greater integration with the site. HTC announced HTC First, a phone with Home pre-loaded.
On April 15, 2013, Facebook announced an alliance across 19 states with the National Association of Attorneys General, to provide teenagers and parents with information on tools to manage social networking profiles. On April 19 Facebook modified its logo to remove the faint blue line at the bottom of the "F" icon. The letter F moved closer to the edge of the box.
Following a campaign by 100 advocacy groups, Facebook agreed to update its policy on hate speech. The campaign highlighted content promoting domestic and sexual violence against women and led 15 advertisers to withdrawal, including Nissan UK, House of Burlesque and Nationwide UK. The company initially stated, "while it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies". It took action on May 29.
On June 12, Facebook announced that it was introducing clickable hashtags to help users follow trending discussions, or search what others are talking about on a topic. San Mateo County, California, became the top wage-earning county in the country after the fourth quarter of 2012 because of Facebook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary was 107% higher than the previous year, at $168,000 a year, more than 50% higher than the next-highest county, New York County (better known as Manhattan), at roughly $110,000 a year.
Facebook joined Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) in October, as it launched. The A4AI is a coalition of public and private organizations that includes Google, Intel and Microsoft. Led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the A4AI seeks to make Internet access more affordable to ease access in the developing world. On October 13, Facebook acquired Onavo, an Israeli mobile web analytics company. Standard & Poor's added Facebook to its S&P 500 index on December 21.
In February 2014, Facebook announced that it would be buying mobile messaging company WhatsApp for US$19 billion in cash and stock.
In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR
for $2.3 billion in stock and cash,
which released its first consumer virtual reality headset in 2016.
The company celebrated its 10th anniversary during the week of February 3, 2014. In January 2014, over one billion users connected via a mobile device. As of June, mobile accounted for 62% of advertising revenue, an increase of 21% from the previous year. By September Facebook's market capitalization had exceeded $200 billion.
Zuckerberg participated in a Q&A session at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, on October 23, where he attempted to converse in Mandarin. Zuckerberg hosted visiting Chinese politician Lu Wei, known as the "Internet czar" for his influence in China's online policy, in December 8.
2015–present: Fake news
As of January 21, 2015 The algorithm was accused of maintaining a "filter bubble", where material the user disagrees with and posts with few likes would be deprioritized. In November Facebook extended paternity leave from 4 weeks to 4 months.
, Facebook's algorithm was revised in an attempt to filter out false or misleading content, such as fake news stories and hoaxes. It relied on users who flag a story accordingly. Facebook maintained that satirical content should not be intercepted.
On April 12, 2016, Zuckerberg outlined his 10 year vision, which rested on three main pillars: artificial intelligence, increased global connectivity and virtual/augmented reality. In June Facebook announced Deep Text, a natural language processing AI that learns user intent and context in 20 languages. In July a US$1 billion suit was filed against the company alleging that it permitted Hamas to use it to perform assaults that cost the lives of four people. Facebook released its blueprints of Surround 360 camera on GitHub under an open-source license. In September it won an Emmy for its animated short "Henry". In October Facebook announced a fee-based communications tool called Workplace that aims to "connect everyone" at work. Users can create profiles, see updates from co-workers on their news feed, stream live video and participate in secure group chats.
Following the 2016 presidential election, Facebook announced that it would combat fake news by using fact checkers from sites like FactCheck.org and Associated Press (AP), making reporting hoaxes easier through crowdsourcing, and disrupting financial incentives for abusers.
On January 17, 2017, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg planned to open Station F, a startup incubator campus in Paris, France. On a six-month cycle, Facebook committed to work with ten to 15 data-driven startups there. On April 18 Facebook announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces at its annual F8 developer conference. Facebook Spaces is a virtual reality version of Facebook for Oculus VR goggles. In a virtual and shared space, users can access a curated selection of 360-degree photos and videos using their avatar, with the support of the controller. Users can access their own photos and videos, along with media shared on their newsfeed. In September Facebook announced it would spend up to US$1 billion on original shows for its Facebook Watch platform. On October 16 it acquired the anonymous compliment app tbh, announcing its intention to leave the app independent.
In May 2018 at F8, the company announced it would offer its own dating service. Shares in competitor Match Group fell by 22%. acebook dating includes privacy features and friends will be unable to view their friends' dating profile. I n July Facebook was charged £500,000 by UK watchdogs for failing to respond to data erasure requests. On July 18 Facebook established a subsidiary named Lianshu Science & Technology in Hangzhou City, China, with $30 million of capital. All its shares are held by Facebook Hong. Approval of the registration of the subsidiary was then withdrawn, due to a disagreement between officials in Zhejiang province and the Cyberspace Administration of China. On July 26 Facebook became the first company to lose over $100 billion worth of market capitalization in one day, dropping from nearly $630 billion to $510 billion after disappointing sales reports. On July 31 Facebook said that the company had deleted 17 accounts related to the 2018 American elections. On September 19 Facebook announced that, for news distribution outside the United States, it would work with U.S. funded democracy promotion organizations, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which are loosely affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties. Through the Digital Forensic Research Lab Facebook partners with the Atlantic Council, a NATO-affiliated think tank. In November Facebook launched smart displays branded Portal and Portal Plus (Portal+). They support Amazon's Alexa (intelligent personal assistant service). The devices include video chat function with Facebook Messenger.
In January 2019, the 10 year challenge was started asking users to post a photograph of themselves from 10 years ago (2009) and a more recent photo.