What a difference a decade makes: Facebook then and now

4 Feb 2014

Image via Twin Design/Shutterstock

On 4 February 2004, college students Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin launched a social network in a Harvard University dorm room. A decade later, what we now know as Facebook has amassed more than 1.2bn monthly active users.

“It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it,” said Zuckerberg, now CEO of the social networking behemoth and who is listed on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“It’s been amazing to see how people have used Facebook to build a real community and help each other in so many ways. In the next decade, we have the opportunity and responsibility to connect everyone and to keep serving the community as best we can,” he added, hinting at the founding of Internet.org last year, a global partnership aimed at providing the whole world with free basic internet access.

10 years of wall posts, status updates and likes

As of 31 December 2013, Facebook has 1.23bn monthly active users, 757m of whom log on daily to keep up with friends and family (and maybe even some foes!). The social network is now a global phenomenon, with 81pc of its daily active users based outside North America.

Profile page on thefacebook.com

A profile page on thefacebook.com in 2004

Facebook has come along way since its college-focused origins as thefacebook.com. In September 2004, the site added ‘The Wall’ to give users a place to post messages to friends and, by December, had spread to 1m users.

It officially became just ‘Facebook’ on 20 September 2005 and, in October, Facebook Photos was launched. In April 2006, Facebook took on mobile, followed in September by the launch of the now well-known news feed.

Facebook Pages were launched in November 2007, offering businesses and brands a unique platform on the growing social network. Today, the top 3 most-liked pages are Facebook for Every Phone (more than 380m likes), Facebook’s own page (more than 110m likes) and pop star Rihanna’s page (more than 84m likes).

Facebook Timeline 2014

A typical Facebook profile page today

As its reach expanded globally, Facebook opened its EMEA headquarters in Dublin in December 2008 – even before the ‘Like’ button was introduced in February 2009.

September 2011 saw the introduction of Timeline, at the time a much-maligned feature but now a staple of the network’s look and feel. In April 2012, Facebook took over photo-sharing app Instagram in a US$1bn acquisition, a month before its initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ stock exchange. By October of the same year, the site boasted 1bn active users.

From what some analysts labelled the worst IPO in a decade, Facebook recently reached an all-time high share value of US$60 a share. It has grown to become a mobile-first business, taking advantage of advances in telecommunications and the growing presence of smartphones.

Facebook mobile (old) Facebook mobile

Facebook for mobile, then and now

A personal retrospective

Launching today in honour of the brand’s 10th birthday is a Look Back feature. In order to thank users that have been active members of the social network, making it what it is today, Look Back will provide them with a personalised movie of their biggest moments on Facebook.

Facebook 10th birthday timeline

Main Facebook on mobile image by Twin Design via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.