The date of birth of Facebook can be identified in the year in which the famous Social Media was started as a social network service: we are talking about 2004 , with the launch day on February 4th .
The current domain, facebook.com was, however, registered in 2005 since before this date the address was “ thefacebook.com “.
Some Harvard students (USA), including the owner Mark Zuckerberg himself , created Facebook as a social network for their university, a sort of online directory with all the students of the Institute.
The idea was to allow children residing on campus to identify each other and, above all, to recognize members of other dormitories and university residences.
The name itself is a reference to the fact that Facebook wanted to be a sort of indexed collection with information on each student and relative attached photo.
This concept is clearly inspired by the school yearbook (in this case in digital format) which represents a common reality in American schools and universities: it is a paper list with the name and photograph of the students, distributed in some universities and high schools. schools to promote socialization.
First legal problem
Before Facebook there was a similar attempt by Zuckerberg himself, in 2003, called ” Facemash “, a first database with student information that was quickly closed , however , because the young programmer had obtained personal data illegitimately . .
The Facemash question represented only the first of a series of adventures by Zuckerberg, who on this specific occasion seriously risked expulsion from Harvard precisely because of the abuse he made of the students’ information.
With the very birth of Facebook, it quickly came to the first lawsuit that brought Zuckerberg to court .
The accusation, in this case, was of plagiarism and intellectual theft for having stolen the idea from other students (with whom he had collaborated until recently) for the creation of a social network called ” HarvardConnection “.
The lawsuit ended with a legal agreement that gave the other party the right to get hold of a large share of Facebook.
Meanwhile, the social network gained more and more fame and in a short time most of the Harvard students registered on the site.
From that moment on, the success increased steadily and access was gradually granted to an increasing number of users: at first it spread among the students of the other universities included in the so-called Ivy League (Columbia University, Stanford University, etc. ), then to other universities and high school students.
In 2006 , anyone older than 13 could use it and a year later it was already among the ten most visited sites in the world .
On the other hand, 2008 was the epochal year in which Facebook users surpassed those of the well-known social network MySpace , its “direct rival” until that moment.
Another very important year was 2012 : Facebook in this period was in effect a huge world giant and came to buy another famous Social Media , or Instagram .
Not only that, because 2014 came and Facebook also bought Whatsapp, a moment that actually marked an important turning point.
Although, in fact, Facebook already had its own instant messaging service (Messenger), the acquisition of Whatsapp led to a huge expansion of users , bringing the company all the catchment area of the very young (not yet able to sign up for Facebook or non-users) and their foreign contacts.
After a short time the company also decided to separate its Messenger from the Facebook app and to create a totally separate one, to be downloaded separately and which interfaces with the main app; in April 2017, active users of the Messenger app were already 1.2 billion.
Let’s not forget that both Instagram and Whatsapp represent to all intents and purposes additional “spaces” in which to insert advertising from advertisers .
You can therefore understand why so much interest in investing in that direction.
A month after Whatsapp, Facebook also acquired the virtual reality company Oculus VR , particularly interesting for the possible implementations to the experiential use of Facebook.
If in 2015 there were about 1.5 billion active users, at the beginning of 2017 Facebook had almost 1.65 billion active users all over the world, of which about 1 billion connected and participating every day (it should be noted that already on August 24th 2015 saw one billion users connected simultaneously for the first time).
Not only that, also in 2015 Facebook declared that it had 3 million advertisers in its ranks and had grossed about 3.69 billion dollars in profits.
Figures that soared, given that already in the first quarter of 2017 the advertisers had increased significantly and already reached 3 billion dollars in profit .
In 2018, 2 billion active users were exceeded: it goes without saying that for several years now Facebook has been the Social Network with the largest number of active users.
However, such important figures necessarily led to a considerable increase in the difficulties of managing the entire amount of users. Some of these problems are still the cause of considerable criticality, sometimes with somewhat difficult and controversial legal implications.
In other cases, however, the problems themselves have led to the development of important solutions for the economic implications and for the benefits that companies can derive from the use of the social network: in this regard it is impossible not to mention the history and development of the Facebook algorithm (click to read the history of the algorithm).
Facebook and Fake News
A hot topic concerns the issue of the now well-known and daily fake news , still unresolved and which over time has led to the introduction of numerous changes in the use of Facebook.
This is a phenomenon (not exclusive to Facebook) carried out mainly for political purposes or by click baiting sites .
In the latter case, the aim is to generate high volumes of internet traffic which translate into increases in revenue from banner ads.
A partial solution was to introduce the possibility for users to report fake news , and, based on the achievement of an adequate number of negative feedbacks , also notify other users.
A very important criticality concerns the use of social media with regard to the attempt to influence the mood of users. In this regard, there was a major scandal in June 2014 , when it was discovered that Facebook was carrying out experiments on its users by preferably showing them certain contents in order to change their mood .
In 2015, again in the psychological sphere, ” smilies ” were introduced as different possible emotional reactions to status and news, which integrated the previous simple like (“I like”).
The most important Facebook scandal, however, was the one universally known as the ” Cambridge Analytics ” case which officially broke out on March 17, 2018 on the pages of the New York Times and The Guardian .
The use of a seemingly harmless app (“ This is your digital life ”) led to the improper acquisition of the personal information of about 87 million Facebook users, a huge amount of data.
Such information was equally misused for political purposes in favor of the election campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz , as well as the ” Vote Leave ” campaign in support of Brexit.
The general discontent, the huge number of users deleted and disconnected from the social network and the legal and ethical issues led Mark Zuckerberg to publicly apologize and to the closure of the Cambridge Analytics agency (accused of the manipulation of the incriminated data), as well as numerous similar apps a This is your digital life .
However, the question of the security and possible use of users’ personal data is still fundamentally unresolved, and continues to be the subject of legal and political controversies.
The Possible Future Implications
Then in June 2019 the news of the creation of Libra , a cryptocurrency that will presumably be launched by the end of 2020 in several countries.
It would be a digital currency , which can be purchased online through Messenger, Whatsapp and a special app (the Zuckerberg Calibra company takes care of everything ), and can be used to buy goods and services on Facebook or to make donations or as an exchange currency .
However, the actual authorization by the various Central Banks to operate as a bank and therefore the legal value of the currency is still in question.
And, while the world is wondering about the future economic impact of Libra, and the Cambridge Analytics case has not yet completely died out, the Antitrust investigation , launched in 2019, concerning the practices for the competition of the giant hovers on Facebook. of social communication.