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WASHINGTON: Key chapters in the history of Facebook, the world’s largest social media app, which celebrates the tenth anniversary of its stock market debut on Wednesday.
In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg, a 19-year-old Harvard computer whiz, starts working from his dorm on an online network originally aimed at connecting Harvard students.
The following year, he launched thefacebook.com with three Harvard roommates and classmates: Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz.
As membership opens to other colleges in North America, Zuckerberg quits his studies and moves to Silicon Valley.
The new company received its first investment from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, which raised $500,000 and officially changed its name to Facebook in 2005.
In 2006, the American media conglomerate Viacom and Yahoo made separate games for Facebook, but both were refused.
Microsoft takes a $240 million stake in the company a year later, by which time Facebook has 50 million users.
That year, Zuckerberg admitted to privacy-related “mistakes” for the first time, on an advertising platform called Beacon that tracks purchases made by Facebook members and lets their friends know what they purchased.
In 2008, the platform overturned MySpace to become the world’s most popular social networking website and launched its first mobile application the following year.
David Fincher’s story about the origins of Facebook, “The Social Network”, hit theaters in 2010 and won Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Original Score and Film Editing.
That year, Time magazine named Zuckerberg Person of the Year for “transforming the way we live our daily lives.”
As membership grows, Facebook is playing an increasing role in shaping public debate.
In 2011, the platform played a key role in giving voice to disillusioned Arab youth in the Arab Spring of revolts that began that year in Tunisia.
In 2012, Facebook seized photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion and filed for an initial public offering.
The biggest ever tech IPO raises some $16 billion and values the company at $104 billion.
A hoodie-wearing Zuckerberg remotely rings the Nasdaq bell from Facebook’s California headquarters on the first day of trading.
In October 2012, Facebook members surpassed one billion.
In 2014, Facebook paid a small fortune to try to boost its popularity among young smartphone users by buying messaging platform WhatsApp in a $19 billion cash and stock deal.
As he continues to make his way around the world, he moves into the new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Silicon Valley, complete with a rooftop park and “the world’s largest open floor plan.”
In 2016, Facebook became involved in a controversy over its alleged use by Russia and other social media platforms to try to influence the outcome of the election that brought Donald Trump to the White House.
In 2018, Facebook was once again at the center of scandal after it emerged that British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had stealthily collected the personal data of millions of Facebook users and used it for political purposes, including to try to rally support for Trump.
Zuckerberg is being questioned in the US Congress about Facebook’s handling of user data and how the network is manipulated to undermine democracy.
The Facebook boss promises to do more to fight fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech and to strengthen data privacy.
In 2021, Zuckerberg announces that Facebook has changed his company’s name to Meta – Greek for “beyond” but also meaning the metaverse – the virtual world he sees as representing the future of the internet.
On Feb. 3, 2022, the company’s stock price plunges, wiping more than $200 billion off its market value after warning of slowing revenue growth.
As younger users increasingly abandon it for TikTok or Snapchat, the company admits to losing one million daily active users. But with 1.96 billion users, a quarter of the world’s population, it remains the largest social media platform.