prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Facebook turns 10

Posted by prof e on February 3, 2014

FacebookHitsPubertyTen years ago Mark Zuckerberg, a student at Harvard University, launched Facebook. If you want to see a Hollywood version of the beginning and early years of the company, see the 2010 film The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by  David Fincher. In the film, Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed as a brilliant, but self-absorbed, geek who takes his own ideas and combines them with ideas from other innovative students to create the foundation of what would become the Facebook we know today. Blinding ambition and underdeveloped social skills aside, Zuckerberg creates a social sharing network that grows beyond his wildest dreams. Of course there are plenty of plot twists, including law suits from estranged partners and competitors, to keep the film humming along. In fact, the DVD case is inscribed, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” And just for the record, the current number of monthly active users is just north of 1.2 billion!

Since the early 200s, much has changed for Facebook and a host of social network services (SNS) competing for your attention. Some start-ups, like Instagram, were purchased by Facebook, while others, e.g., Snapchat, rejected Zuckerberg’s advances (and his $3 billion offer)!

Rumors and speculations about the teen market abandoning Facebook (even as their parents and grandparents join up) have been growing. A recent study by two Princeton University PhD students uses comparisons to Myspace to predict a rapid decline of Facebook users over the next several years. While many bloggers and experts have criticized the methodology and conclusions of the study, (Facebook itself offered up a rather humorous and snarky rebuttal) there appears to be mixed evidence regarding the decline of teens and college-age users.

Long a proponent of radical transparency, Zuckerberg created a network that asks users to log in as themselves without the option of hiding behind a pseudonym or avatar. The requirement that users “own” their own content is seen by some as a benefit, and by others as a limitation. In social media spaces where anonymity is allowed and encouraged, loss of civility is too common and other users can feel victimized by empowered bullies. Case in point: YouTube comments recently overhauled their comments to make users more accountable for their posts.

As Facebook approaches its pre-teen years it is important to look carefully and critically at what it has become and what we are becoming as we spend more and more time online.

In 6 New Facts about Facebook, PEW research identifies several interesting facts about Facebook.

  1. Our greatest fears about Facebook are about “oversharing”
  2. …but sharing is why we love Facebook.
  3. The median number of friends is 200
  4. …and some of us have been asked to “unfriend” someone on Facebook.
  5. We like to “like” and comment on others’ posts…but we’re not as fond of posting.
  6. And, even those without Facebook accounts are likely to live with someone who does.
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