Facebook Catalyzing Social Media

A world without the internet is a world that seems impossible to imagine, just as a world without information is impossible to comprehend. Facebook is to communication as Tesla is to energy, paving the way to the future with game-changing technology, dictating the way humans live life. Sharing a lifetime worth of experiences takes less than a couple of seconds. Emotions, feelings, and opinions are instantly expressed through the click of a button. Childhood memories flash by as you connect with old friends again. One simple application, Facebook, reunites friends and families and gives an easy platform to always stay connected. By the time he was a sophomore in Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg launched what would soon stay a part of billions of lives. Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire at age 23, did not always start as the man working to connect mankind with Facebook. During his years at Harvard, Zuckerberg launched an app called Facemash, which gave pictures of two Harvard students and allowed people to choose which was better looking and which was worse.

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Facemash spread virally throughout the campus and led to a quickly prompted outrage and was taken down (Yglesias). After nearly being expelled for inappropriate behavior and misconduct, Zuckerberg decided it was time to create something useful, so when he heard rumors that there was a team currently working on a project called Harvard Connections, where three people were trying to convert their paper directories into a soft copy, Zuckerberg saw an opportunity. Recommended by a mutual friend, Divya Narendra and the Winklevosses came to Mark Zuckerberg as the coder to execute their plan (Carlson). They wanted to create a website called Harvard Connections that would be an online directory, but needed an experienced coder in order to get the project running as quick as possible. Meanwhile, there were two other popular social networking sites, MySpace and Friendster, but each of them had their own problems. MySpace became far too complex to grab audiences from all ages. Those too young and too old were unable to use MySpace and quit in frustration. Friendster’s demise was due to its large fan base, and it was unable to build software capable of handling such load (Blodget). Keeping the weaknesses of these sites in mind, Zuckerberg began working on his project.

One of the most popular trials of the decade was about the controversial origins of Facebook. Originally called thefacebook, Zuckerberg and his team had a completely different purpose in mind than what Facebook is today. Divya Narendra, Cameron Winklevoss, and Tyler Winklevoss presented this online directory in order to accomplish two main goals: build a Harvard-only website directory and soon expand to other colleges to act as an online directory. But on February 4th, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg released thefacebook to Harvard students, and immediately caught the attention of them (Carlson). Within a week, Divya and the Winklevosses filed a lawsuit claiming the Zuckerberg stole their idea, however, they presented a very weak case. From contracts to patents, Divya and the Winklevosses were lacking any form of tangible proof, to the point where they could not even prove that Zuckerberg worked with them with the Harvard Connection project (Carlson). After initial hurdles, the credit of its success goes equally to the design of the app and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg’s popularity contributed to the initial success.

Due to Mark’s notoriety of creating the viral game Facemash, and the simplicity of the design, Facebook became an instant hit. Zuckerberg took into account what led to the death of other social networking sites, such as complexity and overload, and understood what would kill Facebook (Carlson 2018). Even though the Facebook became a hit in Harvard, he still needed to accomplish his second goal: expansion. So in the summer of 2004, Zuckerberg left Harvard and started a full time Facebook job in Palo Alto.Facebook still had a long way to go before it became the powerful entity that it is today. By taking the first step to introduce the marketplace, which is is a convenient destination to discover, buy, and sell items with people in your community onto Facebook, it was able to attract many businesses and sellers, further expanding the company (Ku). With the ability for companies or individuals to sell their products, Facebook added a new perspective to the existing idea. Rather than just being a place for people to post pictures and see faces, Facebook became a professional site where customers and producers can meet and interact. Then, on April 9, 2012, Facebook made the decision to buy Instagram for one billion dollars, an investment that proved to be very useful. Until then, Facebook was reluctant on making large purchases and acquisitions, with nothing exceeding $100,000 (Rusli).

Another simple piece of software that improved the overall experience was released in April of 2008, called Facebook Chat (Boyd). Essentially, it allowed users to text their friends from the same application that allowed them to share pictures and sell products. Facebook had successfully built a one stop shop technique in the world of connectivity, but was certainly not going to be the last company to make it.Between the release of Facebook and today many competitors appeared, but rather than taking Facebook out of the race, the competition pushed Facebook toward a more immersive experience and integrated it into our lives. The simplistic aspect is what kept Facebook ahead of its competitors. While companies added software updates every month with brand new features, it forgot to balance the simplicity. Products became bulky in an attempt to cram everything onto one piece of software, therefore overcomplicating the original app, leading to frustration when used by customers. Facebook, on the other hand, kept in mind that people were not always able to navigate a webpage or smartphone, so kept it as natural as possible. Zuckerberg’s genuine passion for the product, rather than the money behind it, also put Facebook ahead of the curve (Blodget). Companies that began to lose focus of their original goals and began to chase after money, started to sacrifice on the quality of the product.

Whether that be lowering maintenance costs or implementing too many ads, Facebook turned away any opportunity that took away from the overall experience (Blodget). Another idea Zuckerberg believed in to make Facebook into the product that it is today, is the constant updates and improvement he made. Zuckerberg turned away from the traditional approach of using focus groups and beta testing, before any update (Blodget). He would let the reviews and voice of the users determine how well the update was. By taking this approach, Facebook started to know what exactly the customer wanted, and soon outgrew its competitors.Fourteen years later, Facebook has revolutionized the concept of social media, which used to be limited to interacting with your friends online, but has now been incorporated into more than two billion lives and thousands of companies. One reason Facebook has changed social media is because of how it incorporates business into its system. It does this with the process of advertising, where other businesses will pay by either clicks or views. Even if each click or view pays very little individually, with all of Facebook’s users and all the businesses who market on it, the revenue can stack up quickly. Since a majority of Facebook’s total revenue comes from advertising, about 98%, it is critical they emphasize it. In 2017 alone, Facebook made almost 39.9 billion U.S. dollars (Statista).

This relation between Facebook and its businesses is mutualistic, because Facebook gets money, and companies can gain awareness and customer through advertising, boosting the economy. Society also relies on Facebook for its element of instantaneous feedback and outreach. People are aware of what is happening at all times around the world, whether it pertains to a catastrophe, politics, or an event your friend is attending (Blodget). Even if one were to stay offline for a couple days, they would be able to catch up in the matter of minutes, and this catalyzation of information is what Facebook is able to offer the 21st century. Although it may seem obvious, Facebook’s greatest strength that brought it to its height is the connectivity it presents. With about 400 million people visiting each day, Facebook’s scope has widely increased with people making friends and meeting each other online (Carlson) . As people continue to join Facebook for social, educational, or corporate purposes, the large scope makes it more imperative in our daily lives. Having messenger, marketplace, one’s Facebook feed, and much more in one location is far too convenient for any user to leave. With 2.2 billion users, Facebook has a huge responsibility for keeping the users happy, safe, and secure when using their site, something that they have not lived up to at times. With fake news, Russia’s intervention in the election, and most recently, the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has not had the greatest track record when it comes to privacy. In an interview, Zuckerberg acknowledged that, We have a responsibility to protect your information.

If we cannot, we do not deserve it, (Ygleias). After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook saw a sharp decrease in users, and ever since the overall trends are going down. The reason behind this is the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where in mid-March, people discovered that a data-mining company, Cambridge Analytica, took tens of millions of profiles without their permission in an attempt to alter the outcome of the 2016 election (Anderson). People were afraid that any action by Facebook would start a ripple effect and could impact their lives in negative ways. Facebook, however, is not one to simply move forward with their mistakes, they make changes. Facebook now allows users to download their personal data and gives customers more freedom with their privacy settings (Jenkins). They also hired the first head of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, the former white house official (Salinas). Cyber attacks are increasing every year, and with Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook is determinant on fighting back. They have developed software and made more restrictions and precautions with their databases. Everytime Facebook invests in cybersecurity, it is not only Zuckerberg who has changed, it is all the other tech companies who continue to take the same actions. Seeing the consequence of the lack of security, many companies, whether that be a startup, or a tech giant such as Google, are taking cyber security more seriously. With each mistake Facebook makes, they find a way to protect users from the dangers of the internet and behind them are all the other companies, following in their footstep. One man, one idea, and one goal is all it took for Zuckerberg to create an empire that influenced the way people live their lives. Facebook has become an integral part of society in almost every aspect, whether it be social, corporate, and educational. Facebook has catalyzed the way we communicate and has become a part of our daily lives.

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Facebook Catalyzing Social Media. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved December 6, 2022 , from
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