Facebook's login/signup screen
|Traded as||NASDAQ: FB|
|Founded||February 4, 2004|
|Headquarters||Menlo Park, California, US|
|Area served||United States (2004–05)
|Key people||Mark Zuckerberg
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||US$7.87 billion (2013)1|
|Operating income||US$2.80 billion (2013)1|
|Net income||US$1.50 billion (2013)1|
|Total assets||US$17.89 billion (2013)1|
|Total equity||US$15.47 billion (2013)1|
|Employees||8,348 (September 2014)2|
|Written in||C++, PHP (as HHVM)3 and D language4|
|Alexa rank||2 (September 2014[update])5|
|Type of site||Social networking service|
|Users||864 million daily active users on average for September 20146|
|Available in||Multilingual (70)|
Facebook (formerly [thefacebook]) is an online social networking service headquartered in Menlo Park, California. Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.7 The founders had initially limited the website's membership to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities and later to high-school students. Facebook now allows anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old to become a registered user of the website.8 Its name comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to it by American universities students.9
After registering to use the site, users can create a User profile, add other users as "friends", exchange messages, post status updates and photos, share videos and receive notifications when others update their profiles. 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 had over 1.3 billion active users as of June 2014.10 Due to the large volume of data collected about users, the service's privacy policies have faced scrutiny, among other criticisms. Facebook, Inc. held its initial public offering in February 2012 and began selling stock to the public three months later, reaching a peak market capitalization of $104 billion.
- 1 History
- 2 Corporate affairs
- 3 Website
- 3.1 User profile/personal timeline
- 3.2 Comparison with Myspace
- 3.3 News Feed
- 3.4 Facebook Notes
- 3.5 Messaging
- 3.6 Voice calls
- 3.7 Video calling
- 3.8 Video viewing
- 3.9 Following
- 3.10 Privacy
- 3.11 Technical aspects
- 3.12 Like button
- 3.13 Facebook Bug Bounty Program
- 4 Reception
- 5 Criticisms and controversies
- 5.1 Electricity usage
- 5.2 Blockage by government
- 5.3 Event overcrowding in Germany
- 5.4 British office worker blocks
- 5.5 Use by underage children
- 5.6 Accounts hacked in Bangalore, India
- 5.7 Unauthorized wall posting bug
- 5.8 Users quitting
- 5.9 iPhone 'Paper' app
- 5.10 User influence experiments
- 5.11 Real-name policy controversy
- 6 Impact
- 7 Most popular pages
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 Competitors
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Zuckerberg wrote a program called Facemash on October 28, 2003 while attending Harvard as a sophomore. According to The Harvard Crimson, the site was comparable to Hot or Not and "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"1112
To accomplish this, Zuckerberg hacked into protected areas of Harvard's computer network and copied private dormitory ID images. Harvard did not have a student "Facebook" (a directory with photos and basic information) at the time, although individual houses had been issuing their own paper facebooks since the mid-1980s. Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online.1113
The site was quickly forwarded to several campus group list-servers,clarification needed but was shut down a few days later by the Harvard administration. Zuckerberg faced expulsion and was charged by the administration with breach of security, violating copyrights, and violating individual privacy. Ultimately, the charges were dropped.14 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, and each image was featured with a corresponding comments section.13 He shared the site with his classmates and people started sharing notes.
The following semester, Zuckerberg began writing code for a new website in January 2004. He said he was inspired by an editorial about the Facemash incident in The Harvard Crimson.15 On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched "Thefacebook", originally located at thefacebook.com.16
Six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors (Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra) accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com. They claimed he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.17 The three complained to The Harvard Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. They later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, subsequently settling in 200818 for 1.2 million shares (worth $300 million at Facebook's IPO).19
Membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard College; within the first month, more than half the undergraduates at Harvard were registered on the service.20 Eduardo Saverin (business aspects), Dustin Moskovitz (programmer), Andrew McCollum (graphic artist), and Chris Hughes joined Zuckerberg to help promote the website. In March 2004, Facebook expanded to the universities of Columbia, Stanford, and Yale.21 It later opened to all Ivy League colleges, Boston University, New York University, MIT, and gradually most universities in Canada and the United States.2223
In mid-2004, entrepreneur Sean Parker (an informal advisor to Zuckerberg) became the company's president.24 In June 2004, Facebook moved its operations base to Palo Alto, California.21 It received its first investment later that month from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.25 In 2005, the company dropped the from its name after purchasing the domain name facebook.com for $200,000.26
In May 2005, Accel partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer27 added $1 million of his own money. A January 2009 Compete.com study ranked Facebook the most used social networking service by worldwide monthly active users.28 Entertainment Weekly included the site on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying, "How on earth did we stalk our exes, remember our co-workers' birthdays, bug our friends, and play a rousing game of Scrabulous before Facebook?"29
A high-school version of the site was launched in September 2005, which Zuckerberg called the next logical step.30 (At the time, high-school networks required an invitation to join.)31 Facebook also expanded membership eligibility to employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft.32
Service available to the general public
In late 2007, Facebook had 100,000 business pages (pages which allowed companies to promote themselves and attract customers). These started as group pages, but a new concept called company pages was planned.35 Pages began rolling out for businesses in May 2009.36
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.37 Microsoft's purchase included rights to place international adverts on the social networking site.38 In October 2008, Facebook announced that it would set up its international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.39 In September 2009, Facebook said that it had turned cash-flow positive for the first time.40 In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc. (an exchange for privately held companies' shares), Facebook's value was $41 billion; it slightly surpassed eBay's to become the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.41
Traffic to Facebook increased steadily after 2009. More people visited Facebook than Google for the week ending March 13, 2010.citation needed Release of statistics by DoubleClick showed that Facebook reached one trillion page views in the month of June 2011, making it the most visited website tracked by DoubleClick.42 According to the Nielsen Media Research study, released in December 2011, Facebook had become the second most accessed website in the US, behind Google.43
In March 2011, it was reported that Facebook was removing approximately 20,000 profiles offline every day for violations such as spam, graphic content, and underage use, as part of its efforts to boost cyber security.44
Facebook eventually filed for an initial public offering on February 1, 2012.47 Facebook held an initial public offering on May 17, 2012, negotiating a share price of $38 apiece. The company was valued at $104 billion, the largest valuation to date for a newly listed public company.48 Facebook Inc. began selling stock to the public and trading on the NASDAQ on May 18, 2012.49 Based on its 2012 income of US$5 billion, Facebook joined the Fortune 500 list for the first time on the list published in May 2013, being placed at position 462.50
In 2012, Facebook was valued at $104 billion, and by January 2014 its market capitalization had risen to over $134 billion.4852 At the end of January 2014, 1.23 billion users were active on the website every month, while on December 31, 2013, 945 million of this total were identified by the company as mobile users.
On January 2014, during the week previous to the company's tenth anniversary, chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, clarified: "He [Mark] always said Facebook was started not just to be a company, but to fulfill a vision of connecting the world".
Initial public offering
Facebook filed their S1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 1, 2012. The company applied for a US$5 billion initial public offering (IPO); one of the biggest in the history of technology and the biggest in Internet history.55 Facebook valued its stock at $38 a share which priced the company at $104 billion – the largest valuation to date for a new public company.5657 The IPO raised $16 billion, making it the third largest in U.S. history.5859 The shares began trading on May 18; the stock struggled to stay above the IPO price for most of the day, but set a record for the trading volume of an IPO (460 million shares).60 The first day of trading was marred by technical glitches that prevented orders from going through;61 only the technical problems and artificial support from underwriters prevented the stock price from falling below the IPO price on the day.62
It was revealed laterwhen? that Facebook's lead underwriters, Morgan Stanley (MS), JP Morgan (JPM), and Goldman Sachs (GS) cut their earnings forecasts for the company in the middle of the IPO roadshow.63 The stock continued its freefall in subsequent days, closing at 34.03 on May 21 and 31.00 on May 22. A 'circuit breaker' was used in an attempt to slow down the stock price's decline.64 Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Chairman Rick Ketchum called for a review of the circumstances surrounding the IPO.65
Facebooks' IPO is now under investigation and has been compared to pump and dump schemes.61636566 A class-action lawsuit was filed in May 2012 due to the trading glitches, which led to botched orders.6768 Apparently,according to whom? the glitches prevented a number of investors from selling the stock during the first day of trading while the stock price was falling – forcing them to incur bigger losses when their trades finally went through.
Lawsuits have been filed alleging that an underwriter for Morgan Stanley selectively revealed adjusted earnings estimates to preferred clients.69 The other underwriters (MS, JPM, GS) and Facebook's CEO and board are also facing litigation.70 It is believed that adjustments to earnings estimates were communicated to the underwriters by a Facebook financial officer, who used the information to cash out on their positions while leaving the general public with overpriced shares.71
After going public
In July 2012, Facebook added a same-sex marriage icon to its timeline feature.73 On August 23, 2012, Facebook released an update to its iOS app (version 5.0), which changed how data was collected and displayed to make it faster. On January 15, 2013, Facebook announced Graph Search, which provides users with a "precise answer" rather than a link to an answer by leveraging the data present on its site.74 Facebook emphasized that the feature would be "privacy-aware," returning only results from content already shared with the user.75 The company is the subject of a lawsuit by Rembrandt Social Media for patents involving the "Like" button.76 On April 3, 2013, Facebook unveiled Home, a user-interface layer for Android devices offering greater integration with the site. HTC announced the HTC First, a smartphone with Home pre-loaded.77 On April 15, 2013, Facebook announced an alliance across 19 states with the National Association of Attorneys General to provide teenagers and parents with information on tools to manage social networking profiles.78 On April 19, 2013, Facebook officially modified its logo to remove the faint blue line at the bottom of the "F" icon. The letter F moved closer to the edge of the box.79
Following a campaign by 100 advocacy groups, Facebook agreed to update its policy on hate speech. The campaign highlighted content promoting domestic and sexual violence against women, and used over 57,000 tweets and more than 4,900 emails that caused withdrawal of advertising from the site by 15 companies, including Nissan UK, House of Burlesque and Nationwide UK. The social media website initially responded by stating that "while it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies".80 It decided to take action on May 29, 2013 after it "become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate."81
On June 12, 2013, Facebook announced on its newsroom that it was introducing clickable hashtags to help users follow trending discussions or search what others are talking about on a topic.82 A July 2013 Wall Street Journal article identified the Facebook IPO as the cause of a change in the U.S.' national economic statistics, as the company home (San Mateo County, California) became the top wage-earning county in the country after the fourth quarter of 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average weekly wage in the county was US$3,240, 107% higher than the previous year. It noted the wages were "the equivalent of $168,000 a year, and more than 50% higher than the next highest county, New York County (better known as Manhattan), which came in at $2,107 a week, or roughly $110,000 a year."83
Russian internet firm Mail.Ru sold its Facebook shares for US$525 million on September 5, 2013, following its initial US$200 million investment in 2009. Partly owned by Russia's richest man Alisher Usmanovhe, the firm owned a total of 14.2 million remaining shares prior to the sale.84 In the same month, the Chinese government announced that it will lift the ban on Facebook in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone "to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone." Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009.85
Facebook is part of The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) (which was launched in October 2013). The A4AI is a coalition of public and private organisations that includes Google, Intel and Microsoft. Led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the A4AI seeks to make Internet access more affordable so that access is broadened in the developing world, where only 31% of people are online. Google will help to decrease Internet access prices so that they fall below the UN Broadband Commission's worldwide target of 5% of monthly income.86
A Reuters report, published on December 11, 2013, stated that Standard & Poor's announced the placement of Facebook onto its S&P 500 index "after the close of trading on December 20."87 Facebook announced Q4 2013 earnings of US$523 million (20 cents per share), an increase of $64 million from the previous year.88
In February 2014, Facebook announced that it would be buying mobile messaging company Whatsapp for US$19 billion in cash and stock.89 In June 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of Pryte, a Finnish mobile data plan firm that aims to make it easier for mobile phone users in underdeveloped parts of the world to use wireless Internet apps.90 As part of the company's second quarter results, Facebook announced in late July 2014 that mobile accounted for 62% of its advertising revenue, which is an increase of 21% from the previous year.91
At the start of July 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of LiveRail, a San Francisco, California-based online video advertising company. LiveRail's technology facilitates the sale of video inventory across different devices. The terms of the deal were undisclosed, but TechCrunch reported that Facebook paid between US$400 million and $500 million.9293
- All-Time Closing High: US$72.03 on March 10, 2014
- All-Time Intra-Day High: US$76.74 on July 24, 2014
The ownership percentages of the company, as of 2012[update], are:
- Mark Zuckerberg: 28%,94
- Accel Partners: 10%
- Digital Sky Technologies: 10%95
- Dustin Moskovitz: 6%
- Eduardo Saverin: 5%
- Sean Parker: 4%
- Peter Thiel: 3%
- Greylock Partners: between 1 to 2%
- Meritech Capital Partners: between 1 to 2% each
- Microsoft: 1.3%
- Li Ka-shing: 0.8%
- Interpublic Group: less than 0.5%
A small group of current and former employees and celebrities own less than 1% each, including Matt Cohler, Jeff Rothschild, Adam D'Angelo, Chris Hughes, and Owen Van Natta, while Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus have sizable holdings of the company. The remaining 30% or so are owned by employees, an undisclosed number of celebrities, and outside investors.96 Adam D'Angelo, former chief technology officer and friend of Zuckerberg, resigned in May 2008. Reports claimed that he and Zuckerberg began quarreling, and that he was no longer interested in partial ownership of the company.97
Key management personnel consist of: Chris Cox (Chief Product Officer), Sandberg (COO), and Zuckerberg (Chairman and CEO). As of April 2011[update], Facebook has over 7,000 employees, and offices in 15 countries.98 Other managers include chief financial officer David Wehner and public relations head Elliot Schrage.99
Facebook was named the 5th best company to work for in 2014 by company-review site Glassdoor as part of its sixth annual Employees' Choice Awards. The website stated that 93% of Facebook employees would recommend the company to a friend.100
Most of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising.108109 Facebook generally has a lower clickthrough rate (CTR) for advertisements than most major Web sites. According to BusinessWeek.com, banner advertisements on Facebook have generally received one-fifth the number of clicks compared to those on the Web as a whole,110 although specific comparisons can reveal a much larger disparity. For example, while Google users click on the first advertisement for search results an average of 8% of the time (80,000 clicks for every one million searches),111 Facebook's users click on advertisements an average of 0.04% of the time (400 clicks for every one million pages).112
Sarah Smith, who was Facebook's Online Sales Operations Manager until 2012,113 reported that successful advertising campaigns on the site can have clickthrough rates as low as 0.05% to 0.04%, and that CTR for ads tend to fall within two weeks.114 By comparison, the CTR for competing social network MySpace is about 0.1%, about 2.5 times better than Facebook's rate, but still low compared to many other sites.citation needed
The cause of Facebook's low CTR has been attributed to younger users enabling ad blocking software and their adeptness at ignoring advertising messages, as well as the site's primary purpose being social communication rather than content viewing.115 According to digital consultancy iStrategy Labs in mid-January 2014, three million fewer users aged between 13 and 17 years were present on Facebook's Social Advertising platform compared to 2011.116 However, Time Writer and Reporter Christopher Matthews stated in the wake of the iStrategy Labs results:
A big part of Facebook's pitch is that it has so much information about its users that it can more effectively target ads to those who will be responsive to the content. If Facebook can prove that theory to be true, then it may not worry so much about losing its cool cachet.117118
Zuckerberg, alongside other Facebook executives, have questioned the data in such reports; although, a former Facebook senior employee has commented: "Mark [Zuckerberg] is very willing to recognize the strengths in other products and the flaws in Facebook."119
On pages for brands and products, however, some companies have reported CTR as high as 6.49% for Wall posts.120 A study found that, for video advertisements on Facebook, over 40% of users who viewed the videos viewed the entire video, while the industry average was 25% for in-banner video ads.121
The company released its own set of revenue data at the end of January 2014 and claimed: Revenues of US$2.59 billion were generated for the three months ending December 31, 2013; earnings per share were 31 cents; revenues of US$7.87 billion were made for the entirety of 2013; and Facebook's annual profit for 2013 was US$1.5 billion. During the same time, independent market research firm eMarketer released data in which Facebook accounted for 5.7 per cent of all global digital ad revenues in 2013 (Google's share was 32.4 per cent).53 Revenue for the June 2014 quarter rose to $2.68 billion, an increase of 67 per cent over the second quarter of 2013. Mobile advertising revenue accounted for around 62 per cent of advertising revenue, an increase of approximately 41 per cent over the comparable quarter of the previous year.
Mergers and acquisitions
On November 15, 2010, Facebook announced it had acquired the domain name fb.com from the American Farm Bureau Federation for an undisclosed amount. On January 11, 2011, the Farm Bureau disclosed $8.5 million in "domain sales income", making the acquisition of FB.com one of the ten highest domain sales in history.122
In early 2011, Facebook announced plans to move to its new headquarters, the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park.123
All users outside of the US and Canada have a contract with Facebook's Irish subsidiary "Facebook Ireland Limited". This allows Facebook to avoid US taxes for all users in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America. Facebook is making use of the Double Irish arrangement which allows it to pay just about 2-3% corporation tax on all international revenue.124
Facebook, which in 2010 had more than 750 million active users globally including over 23 million in India, announced that its Hyderabad center would house online advertising and developer support teams and provide round-the-clock, multilingual support to the social networking site's users and advertisers globally.129 With this, Facebook joins other giants like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, IBM and Computer Associates that have already set up shop.130 In Hyderabad, it is registered as 'Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd'.131132133
Though Facebook did not specify its India investment or hiring figures, it said recruitment had already begun for a director of operations and other key positions at Hyderabad,134 which would supplement its operations in California, Dublin in Ireland as well as at Austin, Texas.
A custom-built data center with substantially reduced ("38% less") power consumption compared to existing Facebook data centers opened in April 2011 in Prineville, Oregon.135 In April 2012, Facebook opened a second data center in Forest City, North Carolina, US.136
On October 1, 2012, CEO Zuckerberg visited Moscow to stimulate social media innovation in Russia and to boost Facebook's position in the Russian market.137 Russia's communications minister tweeted that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged the social media giant's founder to abandon plans to lure away Russian programmers and instead consider opening a research center in Moscow. Facebook has roughly 9 million users in Russia, while domestic analogue VK has around 34 million.138
The functioning of a woodwork facility on the Menlo Park campus was announced at the end of August 2013. The facility, opened in June 2013, provides equipment, safety courses and woodwork learning course, while employees are required to purchase materials at the in-house store. A Facebook spokesperson explained that the intention of the facility is to encourage employees to think in an innovative manner due to the different environment, and also serves as an attractive perk for prospective employees.139
Entrance to Facebook headquarters complex in Menlo Park, California
Open source contributions
Facebook is both a consumer of and contributor to free and open source software.140 Facebook's contributions include: HipHop for PHP,141 Fair scheduler in Apache Hadoop,142 Apache Hive, Apache Cassandra,143 and the Open Compute Project.144
User profile/personal timeline
The format of individual user pages was revamped in late 2011 and became known as either a profile or personal timeline since that change.147148 Users can create profiles with photos and images, lists of personal interests, contact information, memorable life events, and other personal information, such as employment status.149 Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages, as well as a chat feature, and share content that includes website URLs, images, and video content.150 A 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study identified that between 20 and 30 percent of Facebook users are "power users" who frequently link, poke, post and tag themselves and others.151
In 2007, Facebook launched Facebook Pages (also called "Fan Pages" by users) to allow "users to interact and affiliate with businesses and organizations in the same way they interact with other Facebook user profiles". On November 6, 2007, more than 100,000 Facebook pages were launched.152
On February 14, 2014, Facebook added a feature that allows users to choose up to 10 different gender definitions from more than 50 options, including "cisgender," and "intersex," as a progression from the previous format that only permitted "male" and "female" to be selected as a gender description. An announcement of the addition was made on the "Facebook Diversity" Facebook page alongside a photograph of rainbow-colored pieces of material hanging over a footbridge.153154 The change occurs after Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant sent a letter to Zuckerberg in early 2012 to request the addition of an "Other" gender option for Facebook users; at that time, Facebook's official statement read: "People can already opt out of showing their sex on their profile. We're constantly innovating on our products and features and we welcome input from everyone as we explore ways to improve the Facebook experience."155
On June 13, 2009, Facebook introduced a "Usernames" feature, whereby pages can be linked with simpler URLs such as
https://www.facebook.com/facebook instead of
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20531316728.156 Many new smartphones offer access to Facebook services through either their Web browsers or applications. An official Facebook application is available for the operating systems Android, iOS, webOS, and Firefox OS. Nokia and Research In Motion both provide Facebook applications for their own mobile devices. More than 425 million active users access Facebook through mobile devices across 200 mobile operators in 60 countries.157
In May 2014, Facebook introduced a feature to allow users to ask for information not disclosed by other users on their profiles. If a user does not provide key information, such as location, hometown, or relationship status, other users can use a new 'ask' button to send a message asking about that item to the user in a single click.158
Comparison with Myspace
The media often compares Facebook to Myspace, but one significant difference between the two Web sites is the level of customization.159 Another difference is Facebook's requirement that users give their true identity, a demand that MySpace does not make.160 MySpace allows users to decorate their profiles using HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), while Facebook allows only plain text.161 Facebook has a number of features with which users may interact. They include the Wall, a space on every user's profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see;162 Pokes, which allows users to send a virtual "poke" to each other (a notification then tells a user that they have been poked);163 Photos, where users can upload albums and photos;164 and Status, which allows users to inform their friends of their whereabouts and actions.165 Depending on privacy settings, anyone who can see a user's profile can also view that user's Wall. In July 2007, Facebook began allowing users to post attachments to the Wall, whereas the Wall was previously limited to textual content only.162
On September 6, 2006, News Feed was announced, which appears on every user's homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays of the user's friends.166 This enabled spammers and other users to manipulate these features by creating illegitimate events or posting fake birthdays to attract attention to their profile or cause.167 Initially, the News Feed caused dissatisfaction among Facebook users; some complained it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, others were concerned that it made it too easy for others to track individual activities (such as relationship status changes, events, and conversations with other users).168
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.169
On February 23, 2010, Facebook was granted a patent170 on certain aspects of its News Feed. The patent covers News Feeds in which links are provided so that one user can participate in the same activity of another user.171 The patent may encourage Facebook to pursue action against websites that violate its patent, which may potentially include websites such as Twitter.172
One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums and photos.173 Facebook allows users to upload an unlimited number of photos, compared with other image hosting services such as Photobucket and Flickr, which apply limits to the number of photos that a user is allowed to upload. During the first years, Facebook users were limited to 60 photos per album. As of May 2009, this limit has been increased to 200 photos per album.174175176177
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 "tag", or label, users in a photo. For instance, if a photo contains a user's friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. This sends a notification to the friend that they have been tagged, and provides them a link to see the photo.178
On June 7, 2012, Facebook launched its App Center to its users. It will help the users in finding games and other applications with ease.179 Since the launch of the App Center, Facebook has seen 150M monthly users with 2.4 times the installation of apps.180
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 Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, and other blogging services.33 During the week of April 7, 2008, Facebook released a Comet-based182 instant messaging application called "Chat" to several networks,183 which allows users to communicate with friends and is similar in functionality to desktop-based instant messengers.
Facebook launched Gifts on February 8, 2007, which allows users to send virtual gifts to their friends that appear on the recipient's profile. Gifts cost $1.00 each to purchase, and a personalized message can be attached to each gift.184185 On May 14, 2007, Facebook launched Marketplace, which lets users post free classified ads.186 Marketplace has been compared to Craigslist by CNET, which points out that the major difference between the two is that listings posted by a user on Marketplace are seen only by users in the same network as that user, whereas listings posted on Craigslist can be seen by anyone.187
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.188 After initially giving users a choice to switch, Facebook began migrating all users to the new version starting in September 2008.189 On December 11, 2008, it was announced that Facebook was testing a simpler signup process.190
A new Messaging platform, codenamed "Project Titan", was launched on November 15, 2010. Described as a "Gmail killer" by some publications, the system allows users to directly communicate with each other via Facebook using several different methods (including a special email address, text messaging, or through the Facebook website or mobile app)—no matter what method is used to deliver a message, they are contained within single threads in a unified inbox. As with other Facebook features, users can adjust from whom they can receive messages from—including just friends, friends of friends, or from anyone.191192 Email service was terminated in 2014 due to low uptake.193
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.195
In September 2014, Facebook announced that it delivers 1 billion video views per day and that it would begin showing everyone view counts on publicly posted videos from users, Pages, and public figures. It also confirmed that it is recommending additional videos to users after they have watched a video. Sixty-five percent of Facebook's video views are coming from mobile where Facebook's user base is shifting, and views grew 50 percent from May to July, in part thanks to the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge finding a home on Facebook.196
On September 14, 2011, Facebook added the ability for users to provide a "Subscribe" button on their page, which allows users to subscribe to public postings by the user without needing to add them as a friend.197 In conjunction, Facebook also introduced a system in February 2012 to verify the identity of certain accounts. Unlike a similar system used by Twitter, verified accounts do not display a special verification badge, but are given a higher priority in a user's "Subscription Suggestions".198
In December 2012, Facebook announced that due to user confusion surrounding its function, the Subscribe button would be re-labeled as a "Follow" button—making it more similar to other social networks with similar functions.199
To allay concerns about privacy, Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile.200 The website is free to users, and generates revenue from advertising, such as banner ads.201 Facebook requires a user's name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. Users can control who sees other information they have shared, as well as who can find them in searches, through their privacy settings.202
According to comScore, an internet marketing research company, Facebook collects as much data from its visitors as Google and Microsoft, but considerably less than Yahoo!.203 In 2010, the security team began expanding its efforts to reduce the risks to users' privacy,204 but privacy concerns remain.205 On November 6, 2007, Facebook launched Facebook Beacon, which was an ultimately failed attempt advertise to friends of users using the knowledge of what purchases friends made. As of March 2012, Facebook's usage of its user data is under close scrutiny.206
In August 2013 High-Tech Bridge published a study showing that links included in Facebook messaging service messages were being accessed by Facebook for its own purposes.208 In January 2014 two users filed a lawsuit against Facebook alleging that their privacy had been violated by this practice.209
In October 2014, Facebook announced that users could now connect to the website through a Tor hidden service using the privacy-protecting Tor browser.211 Alec Muffett, a software engineer with Facebook's security infrastructure group, said that the change "provides a way to access Facebook through Tor without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud. It provides end-to-end communication, from your browser directly into a Facebook datacenter."211
The website's primary color is blue as Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind, a realization that occurred after a test undertaken around 2007; he explained in 2010: "blue is the richest color for me—I can see all of blue."212213 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++.214 The deployment of HipHop reportedly reduced average CPU consumption on Facebook servers by 50%.215
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.215
Facebook used a combination platform based on HBase to store 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).216
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 number 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 hash table.216
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.216
On March 20, 2014 Facebook announced a new open source programming language called Hack. Prior to public release, a large portion of Facebook was already running and "battle tested" using the new language.217
The like button is a social networking feature, allowing users to express their appreciation of content such as status updates, comments, photos, and advertisements. It is also a social plug-in of the Facebook Platform – launched on April 21, 2010219220 – that enables participating Internet websites to display a similar like button.
Following the termination by the sheriff of Hampton, Virginia, US of employees who liked the Facebook page of an adversary, a federal appeals court in Virginia handed down a decision that the US Constitution protects the rights of US citizens to like any Facebook page of their choosing. US Circuit Judge William Traxler likened the practice to displaying a "political sign in one's front yard."221
Patents relating to the "Like" button and other social features held by deceased Dutch programmer Joannes Jozef Everardus van Der Meer are subject of a lawsuit brought against Facebook by Rembrandt Social Media.76222 Rembrandt is represented by the Fish & Richardson Law Firm that stated "We believe Rembrandt's patents represent an important foundation of social media as we know it, and we expect a judge and jury to reach the same conclusion based on the evidence." As of April 2, 2013, further information about the case is unknown in the public sphere.223
Facebook Bug Bounty Program
|This section relies too much on references to primary sources. (November 2014)|
On July 29, 2011, Facebook announced its Bug Bounty Program in which security researchers will be paid a minimum of $500 for reporting security holes on Facebook website. Facebook's Whitehat page for security researchers says: "If you give us a reasonable time to respond to your report before making any information public and make a good faith effort to avoid privacy violations, destruction of data, and interruption or degradation of our service during your research, we will not bring any lawsuit against you or ask law enforcement to investigate you."224
Facebook started paying researchers who find and report security bugs by issuing them custom branded "White Hat" debit cards that can be reloaded with funds each time the researchers discover new flaws. "Researchers who find bugs and security improvements are rare, and we value them and have to find ways to reward them," Ryan McGeehan, former manager of Facebook's security response team, told CNET in an interview. "Having this exclusive black card is another way to recognize them. They can show up at a conference and show this card and say 'I did special work for Facebook.'"
India, which has the second largest number of bug hunters in the world,225 tops the Facebook Bug Bounty Program with the largest number of valid bugs. "Researchers in Russia earned the highest amount per report in 2013, receiving an average of $3,961 for 38 bugs. India contributed the largest number of valid bugs at 136, with an average reward of $1,353. The USA reported 92 issues and averaged $2,272 in rewards. Brazil and the UK were third and fourth by volume, with 53 bugs and 40 bugs, respectively, and average rewards of $3,792 and $2,950", Facebook quoted in a post.226
According to comScore, Facebook is the leading social networking site based on monthly unique visitors, having overtaken main competitor MySpace in April 2008.227 ComScore reports that Facebook attracted 130 million unique visitors in May 2010, an increase of 8.6 million people.228 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 2nd.229 Quantcast ranks the website 2nd in the U.S. in traffic,230 and Compete.com ranks it 2nd in the U.S.231 The website is the most popular for uploading photos, with 50 billion uploaded cumulatively.232 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.204
Facebook is the most popular social networking site in several English-speaking countries, including Canada,233 the United Kingdom,234 and the United States.235236237238 However, Facebook still receives limited adoption in countries such as Japan, where domestically created social networks are still largely preferred.239 In regional Internet markets, Facebook penetration is highest in North America (69 percent), followed by Middle East-Africa (67 percent), Latin America (58 percent), Europe (57 percent), and Asia-Pacific (17 percent).240 Some of the top competitors were listed in 2007 by Mashable.241
The website has won awards such as placement into the "Top 100 Classic Websites" by PC Magazine in 2007,242 and winning the "People's Voice Award" from the Webby Awards in 2008.243 In a 2006 study conducted by Student Monitor, a New Jersey-based company specializing in research concerning the college student market, Facebook was named the second most popular thing among undergraduates, tied with beer and only ranked lower than the iPod.244
In 2010, Facebook won the Crunchie "Best Overall Startup Or Product" for the third year in a row246 and was recognized as one of the "Hottest Silicon Valley Companies" by Lead411.247 However, in a July 2010 survey performed by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Facebook received a score of 64 out of 100, placing it in the bottom 5% of all private-sector companies in terms of customer satisfaction, alongside industries such as the IRS e-file system, airlines, and cable companies. The reasons why Facebook scored so poorly include privacy problems, frequent changes to the website's interface, the results returned by the News Feed, and spam.248
|Days later||Monthly growthN 2|
|August 26, 2008||249100||1,665||178.38%|
|April 8, 2009||250200||225||13.33%|
|September 15, 2009||251300||160||9.38%|
|February 5, 2010||252400||143||6.99%|
|July 21, 2010||253500||166||4.52%|
|January 5, 2011||254N 3600||168||3.57%|
|May 30, 2011||255700||145||3.45%|
|September 22, 2011||256800||115||3.73%|
|April 24, 2012||257900||215||1.74%|
|September 14, 2012||2581,000||143||2.33%|
|March 31, 2013||2591,110||198||1.5%|
|December 31, 2013||2601,230||275||0.97%|
In December 2008, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory ruled that Facebook is a valid protocol to serve court notices to defendants. It is believed to be the world's first legal judgement that defines a summons posted on Facebook as legally binding.261 In March 2009, the New Zealand High Court associate justice David Gendall allowed for the serving of legal papers on Craig Axe by the company Axe Market Garden via Facebook.262263 Employers (such as Virgin Atlantic Airways) have also used Facebook as a means to keep tabs on their employees and have even been known to fire them over posts they have made.264
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.265 In 2008, Collins English Dictionary declared "Facebook" as its new Word of the Year.266 In December 2009, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared its word of the year to be the verb "unfriend", defined as "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook. As in, 'I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.'"267
In early 2010, Openbook was established, an avowed parody (and privacy advocacy) website268 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".269
In January 2013, the countries with the most Facebook users were:270
- United States with 168.8 million members
- Brazil with 64.6 million members
- India with 62.6 million members
- Indonesia with 51.4 million members
- Mexico with 40.2 million members
All of the above total 309 million members or about 38.6 percent of Facebook's 1 billion worldwide members.271 As of March 2013, Facebook reported having 1.11 billion monthly active users, globally.272
In regards to Facebook's mobile usage, per an analyst report in early 2013, there are 192 million Android users, 147 million iPhone users, 48 million iPad users and 56 million messenger users, and a total of 604 million mobile Facebook users.273
Facebook popularity. Active users of Facebook increased from just a million in 2004 to over 750 million in 2011.274
Criticisms and controversies
On April 21, 2011, Greenpeace released a report showing that of the top ten big brands in cloud computing, Facebook relied the most on coal for electricity for its data centers. At the time, data centers consumed up to 2% of all global electricity and this amount was projected to increase. Phil Radford of Greenpeace said "we are concerned that this new explosion in electricity use could lock us into old, polluting energy sources instead of the clean energy available today."276 On Thursday, December 15, 2011, Greenpeace and Facebook announced together that Facebook would shift to use clean and renewable energy to power its own operations. Marcy Scott Lynn, of Facebook's sustainability program, said it looked forward "to a day when our primary energy sources are clean and renewable" and that the company is "working with Greenpeace and others to help bring that day closer."277278
Blockage by government
Facebook has been blocked intermittently in numerous countries including the People's Republic of China,279 Iran,280 Uzbekistan,281 Pakistan,282 Syria,283284 Bangladesh,285 and Vietnam286 on different bases. For example, it was banned in many countries of the world on the basis of allowed content judged as anti-Islamic and containing religious discrimination. It has also been blocked at numerous workplaces to prevent being used by employees during work hours.287 The privacy of Facebook users has also been an issue, and the safety of user accounts has been compromised several times. Facebook has settled a lawsuit regarding claims over source code and intellectual property.288 In May 2011 emails were sent to journalists and bloggers making critical allegations about Google's privacy policies; however it was later discovered that the anti-Google campaign, conducted by PR giant Burson-Marsteller, was paid for by Facebook in what CNN referred to as "a new level skullduggery" and which Daily Beast called a "clumsy smear".289 Facebook is blocked temporarily in Kurdistan's capital Arbil, for security reasons.290
Event overcrowding in Germany
In July 2011, authorities in Germany began to discuss the prohibition of events organized on Facebook. The decision is based on numerous cases of overcrowding by people who were not originally invited.291292 In one instance, 1,600 "guests" attended the 16th birthday party for a Hamburg girl who accidentally posted the invitation for the event as public. After reports of overcrowding, more than a hundred police were deployed for crowd control. A police officer was injured and eleven participants were arrested for assault, property damage and resistance to authorities.293 In another unexpectedly overcrowded event, 41 young people were arrested and at least 16 injured.294
British office worker blocks
Use by underage children
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 a United States federal law, the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires minors aged 13 or younger to 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 they were 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 United States 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 13.296
Accounts hacked in Bangalore, India
In November 2011, several Facebook users in Bangalore, India reported that their accounts had been hacked and their profile pictures replaced with pornographic images. For more than a week, users' news feeds were spammed with pornographic, violent and sexual content, and it was reported that more than 200,000 accounts were affected. Facebook described the reports as inaccurate, and Bangalore police speculated that the stories may have been rumors spread by Facebook's competitors.297298
On August 19, 2013, Facebook's guest service treatment was widely decried. That day, it was reported that a Facebook user from Yatta, West Bank299300 Khalil Shreateh had found a bug that allowed him to post material to other users' Facebook Walls. Users are not supposed to have the ability to post material to the Facebook Walls of other users unless they are approved friends of those users that they have posted material to. To prove that he was telling the truth, Shreateh posted material to Sarah Goodin's wall, a friend of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Following this, Shreateh contacted Facebook's security team with the proof that his bug was real, explaining in detail what was going on. Facebook has a bounty program in which it compensates people a $500 USD fee for reporting bugs instead of using them to their advantage or selling them on the black market. However, it was reported that instead of fixing the bug and paying Shreateh the fee, Facebook originally told him that "this was not a bug" and dismissed him. Shreateh then tried a second time to inform Facebook, but they dismissed him yet again. On the third try, Shreateh used the bug to post a message to Mark Zuckerberg's Wall, stating "Sorry for breaking your privacy ... but a couple of days ago, I found a serious Facebook exploit" and that Facebook's security team was not taking him seriously. Within minutes, a security engineer contacted Shreateh, questioned him on how he performed the move and ultimately acknowledged that it was a bug in the system. Facebook temporarily suspended Shreateh's account and fixed the bug after several days. Facebook refused to pay out the bounty to Shreateh, stating that by posting to Zuckerberg's account, Shreateh had violated one of their terms of service policies and therefore "could not be paid." Facebook also noted that in Shreateh's initial reports, he had failed to provide technical details for Facebook to act on the bug.301302303
On August 22, 2013, Yahoo News reported that Marc Maiffret, a chief technology officer of the cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust, is prompting hackers to support in raising a $10,000 reward for Khalil Shreateh. On August 20, Maiffret stated that he had already raised $9,000 in his efforts, including the $2,000 he himself contributed. He and other hackers alike have denounced Facebook for refusing Shreateh compensation. Stated Maiffret, "He is sitting there in Palestine doing this research on a five-year-old laptop that looks like it is half broken. It's something that might help him out in a big way." Facebook representatives have since responded, "We will not change our practice of refusing to pay rewards to researchers who have tested vulnerabilities against real users." Facebook representatives also claimed they'd paid out over $1 million to individuals who have discovered bugs in the past.304
A 2013 study in the journal CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, "Who Commits Virtual Identity Suicide? Differences in Privacy Concerns, Internet Addiction, and Personality Between Facebook Users and Quitters" points to the fact that there is a rising number of Facebook users who are discontent with Facebook and finally decide to quit Facebook. The number one reason for users to quit Facebook was privacy concerns (48%), being followed by a general dissatisfaction with Facebook (14%), negative aspects regarding Facebook friends (13%) and the feeling of getting addicted to Facebook (6%). Facebook quitters were found to be more concerned about privacy, more addicted to the Internet and more conscientious.205
iPhone 'Paper' app
Following the release of the Facebook iPhone app "Paper" at the beginning of February 2014, developer company FiftyThree sent a correspondence to the social media company regarding its own app, also entitled Paper and trademarked in 2012, asking Facebook to cease using an app name that they consider their own. In response, Facebook stated that it will continue to use the Paper title but conceded that it should have informed FiftyThree at an earlier point in time. FiftyThree articulated its desired outcome in a blog post: "There's a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn't start with someone else's story. Facebook should stop using our brand name."305306
User influence experiments
Academic and Facebook researchers have collaborated to test if the messages people see on Facebook can influence their behavior. For instance, in "A 61-Million-Person Experiment in Social Influence And Political Mobilization," during the 2010 elections, Facebook users were given the opportunity to "tell your friends you voted" by clicking on an "I voted" button. Users were 2% more likely to click the button if it was associated with friends who had already voted.307
Much more controversially, a 2014 study of "Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks" manipulated the balance of positive and negative messages seen by 689,000 Facebook users.308 The researchers concluded that they had found "some of the first experimental evidence to support the controversial claims that emotions can spread throughout a network, [though] the effect sizes from the manipulations are small." 309
Unlike the "I voted" study, which had presumptively beneficial ends and raised few concerns, this study was criticized for both its ethics and methods/claims. As controversy about the study grew, Adam Kramer, a lead author of both studies and member of the Facebook data team, defended the work in a Facebook update. A few days later, Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook's COO, made a statement while traveling abroad. While at an Indian Chambers of Commerce event in New Delhi she stated that "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was. It was poorly communicated and for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." 310
Shortly thereafter, on July 3, 2014, USA Today reported that the privacy watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) had filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade claiming that Facebook had broken the law when it conducted the study on the emotions of its users without their knowledge or consent. In its complaint the EPIC alleged that Facebook had deceived it users by secretly conducting a psychological experiment on their emotions: "At the time of the experiment, Facebook did not state in the Data Use Policy that user data would be used for research purposes. Facebook also failed to inform users that their personal information would be shared with researchers."311
Beyond the ethical concerns, other scholars criticized the methods and reporting of the study's findings. John Grohol, writing at PsycCentral, argued that despite its title and claims of "emotional contagion," this study did not look at emotions at all. Instead, its authors used an application (called "Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count" or LIWC 2007) that simply counted positive and negative words in order to infer users' sentiments. He wrote that a shortcoming of the LIWC tool is that it does not understand negations. Hence, the tweet "I am not happy" would be scored as positive: "Since the LIWC 2007 ignores these subtle realities of informal human communication, so do the researchers." Grohol concluded that given these subtleties, the effect size of the findings are little more than a "statistical blip."
Kramer et al. (2014) found a 0.07% — that's not 7 percent, that's 1/15th of one percent!! — decrease in negative words in people's status updates when the number of negative posts on their Facebook news feed decreased. Do you know how many words you'd have to read or write before you've written one less negative word due to this effect? Probably thousands.312
The consequences of the controversy are pending (be it FTC or court proceedings) but it did prompt an "Editorial Expression of Concern" from its publisher, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as an blog posting from OkCupid that "We experiment on human beings!" In September 2014, law professor James Grimmelmann argued that the actions of both companies were "illegal, immoral, and mood-altering" and filed notices with the Maryland Attorney General and Cornell Institutional Review Board.313
In the UK, the study was also criticised by the British Psychological Society which said, in a letter to The Guardian, "There has undoubtedly been some degree of harm caused, with many individuals affected by increased levels of negative emotion, with consequent potential economic costs, increase in possible mental health problems and burden on health services. The so-called 'positive' manipulation is also potentially harmful."314
Real-name policy controversy
Facebook has maintained the real-name system policy for user profiles. According to Facebook, the real-name policy stems from the position "that way, you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe."315316 However, Facebook's real-name system does not reflect adopted names or pseudonyms used by the LGBT community, and since 2009, has even produced false positives, deleting users with real names presumed to be fake, though Facebook representatives have described these incidents as "very rare."317 A user via the anonymous Android and iOS app Secret began reporting "fake names" which caused user profiles to be suspended or deleted, specifically targeting the stage names of drag queens.318 On October 1, 2014, Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, offered an apology: "In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we've had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We've also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we're going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were."319 However, since this apology, Facebook continues to delete profiles with suspected inauthentic names and even disregards government identification when supplied.320
In April 2011, Facebook launched a new portal for marketers and creative agencies to help them develop brand promotions on Facebook.321 The company began its push by inviting a select group of British advertising leaders to meet Facebook's top executives at an "influencers' summit" in February 2010. Facebook has now been involved in campaigns for True Blood, American Idol, and Top Gear.322 News and media outlets such as the Washington Post,323 Financial Times324 and ABC News325 have used aggregated Facebook fan data to create various infographics and charts to accompany their articles. In 2012, the beauty pageant Miss Sri Lanka Online was run exclusively using Facebook.326
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.327 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.328 Another father–daughter reunion was between Tony Macnauton and Frances Simpson, who had not seen each other for nearly 48 years.329
Many Facebook users, especially adolescents, display references to alcohol and substance use on their Facebook profiles.330331 One study of alcohol displays on underage college Facebook users found that 35.7% participant profiles displayed alcohol.332 This can include photos of underage drinking, or status updates describing alcohol or substance use. This is particularly concerning because new social media such as Facebook can influence adolescents by acting as a "superpeer," promoting norms of behavior among other adolescents.333 Regardless of whether these displays represent real offline behavior or are posted just to make the Facebook user "look cool", displaying these references may lead to an expectation by friends that the adolescent does or will drink alcohol in the future.330
Recent studies have shown that Facebook causes negative effects on self-esteem by triggering feelings of envy, with vacation and holiday photos proving to be the largest resentment triggers. Other prevalent causes of envy include posts by friends about family happiness and images of physical beauty—such envious feelings leave people lonely and dissatisfied with their own lives. A joint study by two German universities discovered that one out of three people were more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook, and another study by Utah Valley University found that college students felt worse about their own lives following an increase in the amount of time spent on Facebook.334335336
Unfriending psychological impact
Although Facebook has an upside of friending people, there is also the downside of having someone unfriend or reject another person, according to psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbournewho?.337 Whitbourne refers to unfriended persons on Facebook as victims of estrangement.337 Unfriending someone is seldom a mutual decision and the person often does not know they have been unfriended.337
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.338339340 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.341
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.342 This debate showed the broader community what many young students had already experienced: Facebook as a popular and powerful new way to interact and voice opinions. An article by Michelle Sullivan of Uwire.comunreliable source? claimed to illustrate how the "Facebook effect" has affected youth voting rates, support by youth of political candidates, and general involvement by the youth population in the 2008 election.343
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 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as the FARC (from the group's Spanish name).344 In August 2010, one of North Korea's official government websites and the official news agency of the country, Uriminzokkiri, joined Facebook.345
During the Arab Spring many journalists made claims that Facebook played a major role in generating the 2011 Egyptian revolution.346347 On January 14, the Facebook page of "We are all khaled Said" was started by Wael Ghoniem Create Event to invite the Egyptian people to "peaceful demonstrations" on January 25. According to Mashable,unreliable source? in Tunisia and Egpyt, Facebook became the primary tool for connecting all protesters and led the Egyptian government of Prime Minister Nazif to ban Facebook, Twitter and another websites on January 26348 then ban all mobile and Internet connections for all of Egypt at midnight January 28. After 18 days, the uprising forced President Mubarak to resign.
In 2011, Facebook filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form a political action committee under the name FB PAC.349 In an email to The Hill, a spokesman for Facebook said "Facebook Political Action Committee will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected."350
Most popular pages
In July 2014, Shakira became the first celebrity to cross over 100 million likes, Cristiano Ronaldo is the second to reach 100 million likes, ahead of Rihanna and Eminem, who had 91.9 million and 89 million likes respectively.351352 Mark Zuckerberg posted a congratulatory message on the artist's wall.353
In popular culture
- American author Ben Mezrich published a book in July 2009 about Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, titled The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal.354
- The Social Network, a drama film directed by David Fincher and adapted from Mezrich's book, was released October 1, 2010.355 Zuckerberg has claimed that The Social Network is inaccurate.356
- In response to the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day controversy and the banning of the website in Pakistan, an Islamic version of the website was created, called MillatFacebook.357
- "You Have 0 Friends", an April 2010 episode of the American animated comedy series, South Park, explicitly parodied Facebook.358
- At age 102, Ivy Bean of Bradford, England joined Facebook in 2008, making her one of the oldest people ever on Facebook.359 At the time of her death in July 2010, she had 4,962 friends on Facebook and more than 56,000 followers on Twitter.360
- On May 16, 2011, an Israeli couple named their daughter after the Facebook "like" feature.361362
Major competitors of Facebook include qzone and renren in China; Orkut in Brazil (until September 2014 when it shut down); Cyworld in South Korea; VK and Odnoklassniki in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan; Draugiem.lv in Latvia; Cloob in Iran; Zing in Vietnam; and mixi in Japan.363
- An "active user" is defined by Facebook as a user who has visited the website in the last 30 days.
- "Monthly growth" is the average percentage growth rate at which the total number of active users grows each month over the specified period.
- 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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