Facebook Wiki Page

URL facebook.com
Type of site Social networking service
Registration Required
Available language(s) Multilingual (70)
Users 1 billion[1] (active October 2012)
Written in C++ and PHP[2]
Owner Facebook, Inc.
Created by
Launched February 4, 2004 (2004-02-04)
Revenue Increase $ 3.71 billion (2011)[3]
Alexa rank Increase 2 (November 2012)[4]
Current status Active

Facebook is a social networking service launched in February 2004, owned and operated by Facebook, Inc.[5] As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users,[6] more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device.[7] Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their friends into lists such as “People From Work” or “Close Friends”.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.[8] The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities before opening to high school students, and eventually to anyone aged 13 and over. However, according to a May 2011 Consumer Reports survey, there are 7.5 million children under 13 with accounts and 5 million under 10, violating the site’s terms of service.[9]

A January 2009 [15]

The name of the service stems from the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some university administrations in the United States to help students get to know each other. Facebook allows any users who declare themselves to be at least 13 years old to become registered users of the site.[16]



Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facemash, the predecessor to Facebook, on October 28, 2003, while attending [18]

Mark Zuckerberg co-created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.

To accomplish this, Zuckerberg [19]

The site was quickly forwarded to several campus group list-servers, but was shut down a few days later by the Harvard administration. Zuckerberg was charged by the administration with breach of security, violating [19] He opened the site up to his classmates, and people started sharing their notes.

The following semester, Zuckerberg began writing code for a new website in January 2004. He was inspired, he said, by an editorial in The Harvard Crimson about the Facemash incident.[22]

Six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors, [24]

Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College, and within the first month, more than half the undergraduate population at Harvard was registered on the service.[25] Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes soon joined Zuckerberg to help promote the website. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale.[26] It soon opened to the other Ivy League schools, Boston University, New York University, MIT, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States.[27][28]

Facebook was [31]

Total active users[N 1]
Date Users
(in millions)
Days later Monthly growth[N 2]
02008-08-26August 26, 2008 7002100000000000000100[32] 70031665000000000001,665 178.38%
02009-04-08April 8, 2009 7002200000000000000200[33] 7002225000000000000225 13.33%
02009-09-15September 15, 2009 7002300000000000000300[34] 7002160000000000000160 9.38%
02010-02-05February 5, 2010 7002400000000000000400[35] 7002143000000000000143 6.99%
02010-07-21July 21, 2010 7002500000000000000500[36] 7002166000000000000166 4.52%
02011-01-05January 5, 2011 7002600000000000000600[N 3] 7002168000000000000168 3.57%
02011-05-30May 30, 2011 7002700000000000000700[38] 7002145000000000000145 3.45%
02011-09-22September 22, 2011 7002800000000000000800[39] 7002115000000000000115 3.73%
02012-04-24April 24, 2012 7002900000000000000900[40] 7002215000000000000215 1.74%
02012-10-04October 4, 2012 70031000000000000001,000[41] 7002163000000000000163 2.04%

Facebook launched a high-school version in September 2005, which Zuckerberg called the next logical step.[46]

On October 24, 2007, Microsoft announced that it had purchased a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a total implied value of around $15 billion.[51]

Traffic to Facebook increased steadily after 2009. More people visited Facebook than Google for the week ending March 13, 2010.[52]

In March 2011 it was reported that Facebook removes approximately 20,000 profiles from the site every day for various infractions, including spam, inappropriate content and underage use, as part of its efforts to boost cyber security.[53]

In early 2011, Facebook announced plans to move to its new headquarters, the former [55]

Release of statistics by DoubleClick showed that Facebook reached one trillion pageviews in the month of June 2011, making it the most visited website in the world.[56] It should, however, be noted that Google and some of its selected websites are not counted in the DoubleClick rankings.

According to the Nielsen Media Research study, released in December 2011, Facebook is the second most accessed website in the US.[57]

In March 2012, Facebook announced App Center, an online mobile store which sells applications that connect to Facebook. The store will be available to iPhone, Android and mobile web users.[58]

Facebook, Inc. held an initial public offering on May 17, 2012, negotiating a share price of $38 apiece, valuing the company at $104 billion, the largest valuation to date for a newly listed public company.[59]

On July 2012, Facebook added a gay marriage icon to its timeline feature.[60]

On August 23rd, 2012 Facebook released the much anticipated update to its iOS app, version 5.0. The app, which did not receive positive sentiments from its users, was rebuilt from the ground up; the app no longer uses page views which made it slow in the past but now utilizes code that uses native elements of iOS.[61]


Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005

User profile

Users can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal information. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. They can also create and join interest groups and “like pages” (called “fan pages” until April 19, 2010), some of which are maintained by organizations as a means of advertising.[65]

Privacy settings

To allay concerns about privacy, Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile.[68]

Comparison with Myspace

The media often compares Facebook to [72]

News Feed

On September 6, 2006, a [78]

In response, Zuckerberg issued an apology for the site’s failure to include appropriate customizable privacy features. Since then, users have been able to control what types of information are shared automatically with friends. Users are now able to prevent user-set categories of friends from seeing updates about certain types of activities, including profile changes, Wall posts, and newly added friends.[79]

On February 23, 2010, Facebook was granted a patent[82]

One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the [87]

Privacy settings can be set for individual albums, limiting the groups of users that can see an album. For example, the privacy of an album can be set so that only the user’s friends can see the album, while the privacy of another album can be set so that all Facebook users can see it. Another feature of the Photos application is the ability to “[90]

Facebook Notes

Facebook Notes was introduced on August 22, 2006, a blogging feature that allowed tags and embeddable images. Users were later able to import blogs from instant messengers.

Facebook launched [96]

On July 20, 2008, Facebook introduced “Facebook Beta”, a significant redesign of its user interface on selected networks. The Mini-Feed and Wall were consolidated, profiles were separated into tabbed sections, and an effort was made to create a “cleaner” look.[99]

Facebook Username

On June 13, 2009, Facebook introduced a “Usernames” feature, whereby pages can be linked with simpler [101]

Facebook Messages

On November 15, 2010, Facebook announced a new “Facebook Messages” service. In a media event that day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “It’s true that people will be able to have an @facebook.com email addresses, but it’s not email”. The launch of such a feature had been anticipated for some time before the announcement, with some calling it a “Gmail killer”. The system, to be available to all of the website’s users, combines text messaging, [103]

In February 2011, Facebook began to use the hCalendar microformat to mark up events, and the hCard microformat for the events’ venues, enabling the extraction of details to users’ own calendar or mapping applications.[104]

Voice Calls

Since April 2011 Facebook users have had the ability to make live voice calls via Facebook Chat, allowing users to chat with others from all over the world. This feature, which is provided free through T-Mobile’s new Bobsled service, lets the user add voice to the current Facebook Chat as well as leave voice messages on Facebook.[105]

Video Calling

On July 6, 2011, Facebook launched its video calling services using Skype as its technology partner. It allows one to one calling using a Skype Rest API.

Facebook Subscribe

On September 14, 2011, Facebook launched a Subscribe button. The feature allows for users to follow public updates, and these are the people most often broadcasting their ideas.[107]

As reported by TechCrunch on February 15, 2012, Facebook is introducing ‘Verified Account’ concept like that of Twitter & Google+. Though as of March 3, 2012, verified accounts don’t get any badges or denotations, but such accounts will get more priority in ‘Subscription Suggestions’ of Facebook.[108]

On March 6, 2012, Facebook officially launched Messenger for Windows, which gives users of Windows 7 access to some Facebook services without using a web browser.[109]


According to [112]

FTC settlement

On November 29, 2011, Facebook agreed to settle US Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by failing to keep privacy promises.[113]

Technical aspects

Facebook is built in PHP which is compiled with HipHop for PHP, a source code transformer built by Facebook engineers that turns PHP into C++. The deployment of HipHop reportedly reduced average CPU consumption on Facebook servers by 50%.[114]

Facebook is developed as one monolithic application. According to an interview in 2012 with Chuck Rossi, a build engineer at Facebook, Facebook compiles into a 1.5 GB binary blob which is then distributed to the servers using a custom BitTorrent-based release system. Rossi stated that it takes approximately 15 minutes to build and 15 minutes to release to the servers. The build and release process is zero downtime and new changes to Facebook are rolled out daily.[114]

Facebook used a combination platform based on Hbase to stores data across distributed machines. Using a tailing architecture, new events are stored in log files, and the logs are tailed. The system rolls these events up and writes them into storage. The User Interface then pulls the data out and displays it to users. Facebook handles requests as AJAX behavior. These requests are written to a log file using Scribe (developed by Facebook).[115]

Data is read from these log files using Ptail, an internally built tool to aggregate data from multiple Scribe stores. It tails the log files and pulls data out (thus the name). Ptail data is separated out into three streams so they can eventually be sent to their own clusters in different data centers (Plugin impression, News feed impressions, Actions (plugin + news feed)). Puma is used to manage periods of high data flow (Input/Output or IO). Data is processed in batches to lessen the amount of times needed to read and write under high demand periods (A hot article will generate a lot of impressions and news feed impressions which will cause huge data skews). Batches are taken every 1.5 seconds, limited by memory used when creating a hashtable.[115]

After this, data is output in PHP format (compiled with HipHop for PHP). The backend is written in Java and Thrift is used as the messaging format so PHP programs can query Java services. Caching solutions are used to make the web pages display more quickly. The more and longer data is cached the less realtime it is. The data is then sent to MapReduce servers so it can be queried via Hive. This also serves as a backup plan as the data can be recovered from Hive. Raw logs are removed after a period of time.[115]

Like button

The Like button is one of Facebook’s [117]


Facebook popularity. Active users of Facebook increased from just a million in 2004 to over 750 million in 2011.[118]

Registered Facebook users by age as of 2010.

According to comScore, Facebook is the leading social networking site based on monthly unique visitors, having overtaken main competitor MySpace in April 2008.[119] ComScore reports that Facebook attracted 130 million unique visitors in May 2010, an increase of 8.6 million people.[120] According to Alexa, the website’s ranking among all websites increased from 60th to 7th in worldwide traffic, from September 2006 to September 2007, and is currently 1st.[121] Quantcast ranks the website 2nd in the U.S. in traffic,[122] and Compete.com ranks it 2nd in the U.S.[123] The website is the most popular for uploading photos, with 50 billion uploaded cumulatively.[124] In 2010, Sophos‘s “Security Threat Report 2010” polled over 500 firms, 60% of which responded that they believed that Facebook was the social network that posed the biggest threat to security, well ahead of MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn.[111]

Facebook is the most popular social networking site in several [132]

The website has won awards such as placement into the “Top 100 Classic Websites” by [135]

On March 2010, Judge Richard Seeborg issued an order approving the class settlement in Lane v. Facebook, Inc., the class action lawsuit arising out of Facebook’s Beacon program.

In 2010, Facebook won the [138]

In December 2008, the [142]

By 2005, the use of Facebook had already become so ubiquitous that the generic verb “facebooking” had come into use to describe the process of browsing others’ profiles or updating one’s own.[145]

In early 2010, Openbook was established, an avowed parody (and privacy advocacy) website[146] that enables text-based searches of those Wall posts that are available to “Everyone”, i.e. to everyone on the Internet.

Writers for The Wall Street Journal found in 2010 that Facebook apps were transmitting identifying information to “dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies”. The apps used an HTTP referrer which exposed the user’s identity and sometimes their friends’. Facebook said, “We have taken immediate action to disable all applications that violate our terms”.[147]

In October 2012, the countries with the most Facebook users were:[148]

  • United States with 166.1 million members
  • Brazil with 58.4 million members
  • India with 55.3 million members
  • Indonesia with 47.5 million members
  • Mexico with 38.3 million members

All of the above total 309 million members or about 38.6 percent of Facebook’s 1 billion worldwide members.[149]


Facebook has met with [158]

In July 2011, German authorities began to discuss the prohibition of events organized on Facebook. The decision is based on several cases of overcrowding by people not originally invited.[162]

In 2007, it was reported that 43% of British office workers were blocked from accessing Facebook at work, due to concerns including reduced productivity and the potential for industrial espionage.[163]

A 2011 study in the online journal First Monday, “Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” examines how parents consistently enable children as young as 10 years old to sign up for accounts, directly violating Facebook’s policy banning young visitors. This policy technically allows Facebook to avoid conflicts with the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), requiring that minors aged 13 or younger gain explicit parental consent to access commercial websites. Of the more than 1,000 households surveyed for the study, more than three-quarters (76%) of parents reported that their child joined Facebook when she was younger than 13, the minimum age in the site’s terms of service. The study notes that, in response to widespread reports of underage users, a Facebook executive has said that “Facebook removes 20,000 people a day, people who are underage.” The study’s authors also note, “Indeed, Facebook takes various measures both to restrict access to children and delete their accounts if they join.” The findings of the study raise questions primarily about the shortcomings of federal law, but also implicitly continue to raise questions about whether or not Facebook does enough to publicize its terms of service with respect to minors. Only 53% of parents said they were aware that Facebook has a minimum signup age; 35% of these parents believe that the minimum age is a site recommendation (not a condition of site use), or thought the signup age was 16 or 18, and not 13.[164]

In November 2011, several Facebook users reported that their accounts were hacked and their profile pictures were replaced with pornographic images. For more than a week, users’ news feeds were spammed with pornographic, violent and sexual contents. It has been reported that more than 200,000 accounts in [166]

There has been much user discontent over Facebook’s mandatory changeover to the new [168]

According to a leading counter terrorism expert, terrorists are using Facebook for hiring loners from western nations like Australia.[169]

In November 2012 several tech writers and bloggers reacted negatively to Facebook’s new couples page feature, which automatically created new joint profile pages for people with a relationship listed on the site.[170]


Media impact

In April 2011, Facebook launched a new portal for marketers and creative agencies to help them develop brand promotions on Facebook.[175] have used aggregated Facebook fan data to create various infographics and charts to accompany their articles.

Social impact

Facebook has affected the social life and activity of people in various ways. With its availability on many mobile devices, Facebook allows users to continuously stay in touch with friends, relatives and other acquaintances wherever they are in the world, as long as there is access to the Internet. It can also unite people with common interests and/or beliefs through groups and other pages, and has been known to reunite lost family members and friends because of the widespread reach of its network. One such reunion was between John Watson and the daughter he had been seeking for 20 years. They met after Watson found her Facebook profile.[177]

Some argue that Facebook is beneficial to one’s social life because they can continuously stay in contact with their friends and relatives, while others say that it can cause increased antisocial tendencies because people are not directly communicating with each other. Some studies have named Facebook as a source of problems in relationships. Several news stories have suggested that using Facebook can lead to higher instances of divorce and [179]

Political impact

The stage at the Facebook – Saint Anselm College debates in 2008.

Facebook’s role in the American political process was demonstrated in January 2008, shortly before the New Hampshire primary, when Facebook teamed up with ABC and Saint Anselm College to allow users to give live feedback about the “back to back” January 5 Republican and Democratic debates.[180][181][182] Charles Gibson moderated both debates, held at the Dana Center for the Humanities at Saint Anselm College. Facebook users took part in debate groups organized around specific topics, register to vote, and message questions.[183]

ABCNews.com reported in 2012 that the Facebook fanbases of political candidates have relevance for the election campaign, including:

  • Allows politicians and campaign organizers to understand the interests and demographics of their Facebook fanbases, as with Wisdom for Facebook, to better target their voters.
  • Provides a means for voters to keep up-to-date on candidates’ activities, such as connecting to the candidates’ Facebook Fan Pages.

Unless you get out of Facebook and into someone’s face, you really have not acted.

Over a million people installed the Facebook application “US Politics on Facebook” in order to take part, and the application measured users’ responses to specific comments made by the debating candidates.[186]

In February 2008, a Facebook group called “One Million Voices Against FARC” organized an event in which hundreds of thousands of Colombians marched in protest against the [188]

In 2011 there was a controversial ruling by French government to uphold a 1992 decree which stipulates that commercial enterprises should not be promoted on news programs. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s colleagues have agreed that it will enforce a law so that the word “Facebook” will not be allowed to be spoken on the television or on the radio.[189]

In 2011, Facebook filed paperwork with the [191]

In popular culture

See also



  1. ^ An “active user” is defined by Facebook as a user who has visited the website in the last 30 days.
  2. ^ “Monthly growth” is the average percentage growth rate at which the total number of active users grows each month over the specified period.
  3. ^ This value is from an investment document. The date is from when the document was revealed to the public, not the actual date that the website reached this many users.


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  3. ^ “Facebook Current Report, Form 8-K, Filing Date July 26, 2012”. SECDatabase.com. http://pdf.secdatabase.com/700/0001193125-12-316895.pdf. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  4. ^ “Facebook.com Site Info”. Alexa Internet. http://www.alexa.com/topsites. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
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Further reading

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Facebook, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.