On February 4, 2004, the revolution that has changed the way we communicate online started. That day, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook online for thew first time, together with Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin.
To be precise, the platform, at the beginning, was called The Facebook and targeted the students of the renowned college. After a short time, the website was gradually opened to students of other American universities, until it gained a million users at the end of that same year.
While the audience was growing, the first controversies related to privacy started as well: many started to express concerns regarding the public sharing of contents, concerns that increased when the first tools to track users’ behavior online were introduced. Since the beginning, the platform also faced a legal dispute involving other Harvard students, who accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea; the issue found a conclusion only in 2008, when a settlement was reached.
Meanwhile, the social network had its name changed into “Facebook” and it had acquired users from all over the world; soon, it started gaining importance in the political debate – together with other social networks –, as demonstrated by the American elections of 2008 and the revolts in the Arab world between 2010 and 2012. In 2012, the company went public, registered a billion users and bought Instagram. Two years later, Whatsapp was bought as well and, later, the controversies about disinformation and the spread of fake news, as well as those about the handling of users’ data began; in 2018, the scandal related to Cambridge Analytica broke out: the company was accused of illegitimately receiving Facebook users’ data, in ways that violated the social media terms and conditions.
Following the incurrence of these problems, the social network undertook a path to try and curb the critical issues, such as steps to limit the spread of fake news and watch over political ads more efficiently, as well as measures to further safeguard users’ data.
Anyway, all of this controversies have not caused an exodus from Facebook, neither on the part of subscribers, nor on the part of investors: the company, today, is worth 600 billion dollars and it has got 2 billion users all over the world.