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Facebook

Facebook, Inc. is an American social media conglomerate corporation

Summary

Facebook, Inc. is an American social media conglomerate corporation based in Menlo Park, California. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, along with his fellow roommates and students at Harvard College, who were Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, originally as TheFacebook.com—today’s Facebook, a popular global social networking website. Facebook is one of the world’s most valuable companies. It is considered one of the Big Five technology companies along with Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google.

History

The social network TheFacebook.com launched in February 2004. Harvard students who signed up for the service could post photographs of themselves and personal information about their lives, such as their class schedules and clubs they belonged to. Its popularity increased, and soon students from other prestigious schools, such as Yale and Stanford universities, were allowed to join. By June 2004 more than 250,000 students from 34 schools had signed up, and that same year major corporations such as the credit-card company MasterCard started paying for exposure on the site. The year 2005 proved to be pivotal for the company. It became simply Facebook and introduced the idea of “tagging” people in photos that were posted to the site. With tags, people identified themselves and others in images that could be seen by other Facebook friends. Facebook also allowed users to upload an unlimited number of photos. In 2005 high-school students and students at universities outside the United States were allowed to join the service. By year’s end it had six million monthly active users.

In 2006 Facebook opened its membership beyond students to anyone over the age of 13. As Zuckerberg had predicted, advertisers were able to create new and effective customer relationships. For example, that year, household product manufacturer Procter & Gamble attracted 14,000 people to a promotional effort by “expressing affinity” with a teeth-whitening product. This kind of direct consumer engagement on such a large scale had not been possible before Facebook, and more companies began using the social network for marketing and advertising.

The Like Button

The “like” button, stylized as a “thumbs up” icon, was first enabled on February 9, 2009, and enables users to easily interact with status updates, comments, photos and videos, links shared by friends, and advertisements. Once clicked by a user, the designated content is more likely to appear in friends’ News Feeds. The button displays the number of other users who have liked the content. The like button was extended to comments in June 2010. In February 2016, Facebook expanded Like into “Reactions”, choosing among five pre-defined emotions, including “Love”, “Haha”, “Wow”, “Sad”, or “Angry”. In late April 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, a new “Care” reaction was added.

IPO And reaching one billion monthly active users

After years of massive userbase growth, 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.

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.

Also in 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application, for about $1 billion in cash and stock. Mark Zuckerberg said about the acquisition:

“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.” 

After acquiring Onavo in 2013, Facebook used its Onavo Protect virtual private network (VPN) app to collect information on users’ web traffic and app usage. This allowed Facebook to monitor its competitors’ performance, and motivated Facebook to acquire WhatsApp in 2014.

Tweaking the algorithm and fake news

As of 2015, 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. 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.

On April 12, 2016, Zuckerberg outlined his 10-year vision, which rested on three main pillars: artificial intelligence, increased global connectivity, and virtual and augmented reality. 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 videos 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.

After years of controversy, on September 15, 2020, Facebook launched a climate science information centre to promote authoritative voices on climate change and provide access of “factual and up-to-date” information on climate science. It featured facts, figures and data from organizations, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Met Office, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with relevant news posts.

After the US election of 2020, Facebook tweaked the news feed to quantify the trustworthiness and quality of a news source. With this Facebook reduce Election-related misinformation and hate speech without hurting the company’s bottom line.

Vision

People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them. Facebook states they stand by 5 different principles:

Give People a Voice

People deserve to be heard and to have a voice — even when that means defending the right of people we disagree with.

Build Connection and Community

Their services help people connect, and when they’re at their best, they bring people closer together.

Serve Everyone

Facebook works to make technology accessible to everyone, and our business model is ads so our services can be free.

Keep People Safe and Protect Privacy

Facebook has a responsibility to promote the best of what people can do together by keeping people safe and preventing harm.

Promote Economic Opportunity

Their tools level the playing field so businesses grow, create jobs and strengthen the economy.

Mission

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them

References

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Facebook

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook

https://www.comparably.com/companies/facebook/mission

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/facebook

https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/facebook-buys-instagram-for-1-billion/