Facebook is a social media and social networking platform owned by Meta Platforms. It was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. Its name was derived from the “face book” directories given to American university students.
Membership on the site was initially exclusive to Harvard College students, then expanded to other American universities. In 2006, it allowed anyone over 13 years old to have a Facebook account. As of 2022, Facebook gained 2.96 billion monthly active users and was the most downloaded mobile app of the last decade.
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Facebook’s primary feature or system is the News Feed. It is where users are exposed to content on the platform. Using a secret algorithm—formerly EdgeRank—the site picks a selected list of updates to show users when visiting their feed.
First introduced in 2006 by then Facebook’s computer engineer, Ruchi Sanghvi, the News Feed was a home page feature that included highlights on the user’s profile changes, birthdays, and upcoming events. It also shows conversations between the walls of a user’s friends.
Another critical interface of the News Feed is the Mini Feed; it’s a news stream on a Facebook user’s profile page that shows relevant updates about that user. Compared to the News Feed, users can delete updates on the Mini Feed so they won’t be visible to other profile visitors.
Facebook updated the News Feed in 2011, so it would show the most recent and top stories in one feed, and the feature to highlight stories as top stories. However, due to massive criticism from many users, Facebook enabled users to view the most recent stories first.
Getting friends on Facebook is done by sending a friend request to another user on the platform. Users can be considered friends once the receiving party accepts the sender’s request. If the user doesn’t want to accept a friend request, they can choose Not Now, which hides the request but does not delete it.
Users can also remove a user from their Friends list, which is called unfriending on Facebook. In 2009, the New Oxford American Dictionary made “unfriend” the word of the year. Facebook doesn’t notify users if another user unfriends them.
The Friends list can be hidden from other users—like non-friends or blocked users—via the site’s advanced privacy settings.
The wall is the site’s former profile space on Facebook until December 2011. It enabled users to post messages or short notes that the user could see, including the date and time the message was posted.
Tagging in status updates was integrated into the platform in September 2009. This allowed Facebook users to tag other users, brands, groups, or events in a post so that it linked to the wall of the Facebook page being tagged. That post will then appear on the news feeds for that page and selected friends.
Tagging was done by prefixing an “@” symbol followed by the name of the person, brand, group, or page. In early 2011, tagging in comment sections was introduced.