Over the course of the last decade, Facebook seeped from the dorms of Harvard, made its way to Silicon Valley, and into the lives of more than 1 billion people around the world.
Tomorrow, Facebook celebrates 10 years since Mark Zuckerberg started his company on February 4, 2004. To commemorate the occasion, Complex is presenting Generation Facebook Week, a look back at the way the social network has shaped our lives. Between countless selfies, relationships that were formed or broken, new friends that were made or old friends we’ve come to hate, for many of us, Facebook became the nuceleus of our digital identities. It’s a remarkable feat, especially when considering the social networks and startups that have failed thanks to Facebook’s presence and seemingly insurmountable reach. And that's just it: The company has weaved itself into our lives, all created by a guy from White Plains, NY, who hasn’t even seen his 30th birthday yet.
It’s a remarkable feat, especially when considering the social networks and startups that have failed thanks to Facebook’s presence and seemingly insurmountable reach. And that's just it: The company has weaved itself into our lives, all created by a guy from White Plains, NY, who hasn’t even seen his 30th birthday yet.
So, what makes Facebook, Facebook? Sure, it let’s us share media and information with those in our network, but that wasn’t anything different than MySpace before it. What made Facebook work was everything it did, but also everything it didn’t: we had to play by its rules, and there was no way around it. Facebook, or The Facebook as it was known in 2004, kept things exclusive to Harvard kids and Ivy Leaguers in its early days. As it slowly opened its arms to other schools and, eventually, the public, it kept its profile customization options simple, even though its closest rival back then was the hyper-customizable MySpace. I remember telling friends back in 2006 that I wouldn’t hop on the Facebook train because it didn’t let me “express myself” as MySpace did. Here I am in 2014 with two separate MySpace profiles, one I can’t delete because I can’t figure out my password, and the other because I was tempted to try out the Justin Timberlake redesign—which, so far, has been lukewarm.
Facebook, while letting us express ourselves through its own set of limitations, has kept us from running wild and driving ourselves away from each other just as we did in the frontier that was MySpace. During a time when “personalization” was a mantra in Silicon Valley, Zuck and Co. turned a blind eye.
Zuckerberg, for the most part, has shaped Facebook to his liking, which is an extension of how he wants the world to work: a transparent place where information is seamlessly shared between a digital community. And we’ve given in to this idea, despite its privacy problems and our outcries against the annual tweak to the News Feed and our profile page. Zuckerberg once said, "The question isn't, 'What do we want to know about people?', It's, 'What do people want to tell about themselves?'"
Seemingly, we like to tell a lot, and Facebook’s story is as much a story of itself, as it is of our own lives. Here's to 10 more years!