When Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004, he launched a revolution in how people connect with one another. By early 2014, Facebook had 1.2 billion monthly users accessing the site, with more than 1 billion checking in by phones or other mobile devices. In 2014, 67 percent of American Internet users are on Facebook.
Zuckerberg and his partners launched "The Facebook" in February 2004, while they were studying at Harvard. Within a month of the launch, it had grown beyond Harvard to Stanford, Columbia and Yale. In 2005, the company -- now called Facebook -- expanded to 800 other colleges. Then came high schools, work networks and everyone else. In 2012, the privately held company issued its initial public offering, at $38 per share. That set the company's net worth at greater than $100 billion.
Facebook users can view the site in more than 70 languages. The company has offices around the world including Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, Brasilia, Madrid, Tokyo and Tel Aviv. Non-U.S. users make up 86 percent of the Facebook population, and China, which officially bans Facebook, has 95 million people on the social network. California, Texas and New York are the states with the most users. In California, 41 percent of the population is on Facebook.
Social Network Marketing
With hundreds of millions of users, Facebook is a natural magnet for companies who want to market themselves online. Facebook's advertising revenue in the last quarter of 2013 hit $2.34 billion, according to an article on the Forbes website. Retailers advertising on Facebook saw a 152-percent return on investment in 2013. The 2013 last-quarter click-thru rate for Facebook ads was up 365 percent from the previous year. Teenagers, however, are drifting away from Facebook to other video and photo-sharing networks.
Because people post so much of their lives to Facebook, its use of personal data has become controversial. The Sponsored Story format, for example, allowed advertisers to include Facebook users' names and photos in ads without compensating them. The Beacon ad platform allowed businesses to post on people's Timelines announcing an individual had purchased from the company. Facebook scrapped both these programs due to user objections, but privacy advocates still raise questions about how it uses personal information.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.