Facebook is a social networking service launched on February 4, 2004. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University student Eduardo Saverin. The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, theIvy League, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States, corporations, and by September 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address.
Facemash, the Facebook’s predecessor, opened on October 28, 2003.Initially, the website was invented by a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, and three of his classmates – Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz. Zuckerberg wrote the software for the Facemash website when he was in his second year of college. The website was set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two student pictures side-by-side and let them decide who was hot or not.
That night, Mark Zuckerberg wrote the following blog entries:
I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 pm and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland dormitory facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendiedous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.— 2:49 pm
Yea, it’s on. I’m not exactly sure how the farm animals are going to fit into this whole thing (you can’t really ever be sure with farm animals…), but I like the idea of comparing two people together.— 11:10 am
Let the hacking begin.— 2:57 pm
According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash “used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the ‘hotter’ person”. To accomplish this, Mark Zuckerberg hacked the “facebooks” Harvard maintained to help students identify each other and used the images to populate his Facemash website. That the initial site mirrored people’s physical community—with their real identities—represented the key aspects of what later became Facebook.
“Perhaps Harvard will squelch it for legal reasons without realizing its value as a venture that could possibly be expanded to other schools (maybe even ones with good-looking people…),” Zuckerberg wrote in his personal blog. “But one thing is certain, and it’s that I’m a jerk for making this site. Oh well. Someone had to do it eventually… The site was quickly forwarded to several campus group list-servers. However, the website was shut down by Harvard executives a few days after it opened. Mark Zuckerberg faced charges of violating copyrights, breach of security, and violating individual privacy for stealing the student pictures that he used to populate the website. He later faced expulsion from Harvard University for his actions. However, all the charges were eventually dropped.
Zuckerberg expanded on this initial project that semester by creating a social study tool ahead of an art history final. He uploaded 500 Augustan images to a website, with one image per page along with a comment section.He opened the site up to his classmates and people started sharing their notes. “The professor said it had the best grades of any final he’d ever given. This was my first social hack. With Facebook, I wanted to make something that would make Harvard more open,” Zuckerberg said in a TechCrunch interview.
On October 25, 2010, entrepreneur and banker Rahul Jain auctioned off FaceMash.com to an unknown buyer for $30,201.
In January 2004, Mark Zuckerberg began writing the code for a new website, known as ‘theFacebook. He said in an article in The Harvard Crimson that he was inspired to make Facebook from the incident of Facemash: “It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available … the benefits are many.”On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched “Thefacebook”, originally located at thefacebook.com. He told The Crimson, “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it as I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.” Zuckerberg also stated his intention to create a universal website that can connect people around the university. According to his roommate, Dustin Moskovitz, “When Mark finished the site, he told a couple of friends … then one of them suggested putting it on the Kirkland House online mailing list, which was … three hundred people.” Moskovitz continued to say that, “By the end of the night, we were … actively watching the registration process. Within twenty-four hours, we had somewhere between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred registrants.”
Just six days after the launch of the site, three Harvard University seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, but instead using their idea to build a competing product.The three complained to the Crimson, and the newspaper began an investigation. Zuckerberg knew about the investigation so he used TheFacebook.com to find members in the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. He examined a history of failed logins to see if any of the Crimsonmembers have ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. In the cases in which they had failed to log in, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members’ Harvard email accounts, and he was successful in accessing two of them. In the end, three Crimson members filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg which was later settled. U Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard University. Within the first month, more than half the undergraduate population at Harvard was registered on the service. Zuckerberg was soon joined in the promotion of the site by Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to Stanford, Columbia, andYale. This expansion continued when it opened to all Ivy League and Boston-area schools. It gradually reached most universities in Canada and the United States. Facebook was incorporated in the summer of 2004, and the entrepreneur Sean Parker, who had been informally advising Zuckerberg, became the company’s president. In June 2004, Facebook moved its base of operations to Palo Alto, California. The company dropped ‘The’ from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com in 2005 for $200,000.