What is Facebook?

Josie Myers

Facebook is a social networking website intended to connect friends, family, and business associates. It is the largest of the networking sites, with the runner up being MySpace. It began as a college networking website and has expanded to include anyone and everyone.

Friends can stay connected through the Facebook social networking site.
Friends can stay connected through the Facebook social networking site.

Facebook was founded by 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and originally called thefacebook. It was quickly successful on campus and expanded beyond Harvard into other Ivy League schools. With the phenomenon growing in popularity, Zuckerberg enlisted two other students, Duston Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, to assist. Within months, thefacebook became a nationwide college networking website.

Facebook began at Harvard University.
Facebook began at Harvard University.

Zuckerberg and Moskovitz left Harvard to run thefacebook full time shortly after taking the site national. In August of 2005, thefacebook was renamed Facebook, and the domain was purchased for a reported $200,000 US Dollars (USD). At that time, it was only available to schools, universities, organizations, and companies within English speaking countries, but has since expanded to include anyone.

Facebook is a social networking website intended to connect friends, family, and business associates.
Facebook is a social networking website intended to connect friends, family, and business associates.

Users create a profile page that shows their friends and networks information about themselves. The choice to include a profile in a network means that everyone within that network can view the profile. The profile typically includes the following: Information, Status, Friends, Friends in Other Networks, Photos, Notes, Groups, and The Wall.

A popular Facebook features allows users to upload photos taken with a digital camera to the site.
A popular Facebook features allows users to upload photos taken with a digital camera to the site.

Users are able to search for friends and acquaintances by e-mail address, school, university, or just by typing in a name or location for search. When people become friends, they are able to see all of each others' profiles including contact information. E-mail notifications let users know when new friends have chosen to add them to their list or when someone has sent a message to them within the system.

Facebook shouldn't be the sole means that a person uses to connect with friends.
Facebook shouldn't be the sole means that a person uses to connect with friends.

A popular feature on the site is the ability to share photographs uploaded from a phone, camera, or hard drive. As with other private information, users have the option to allow only friends to see their pictures or anyone. There is an unlimited amount of storage available, which is a major advantage of Facebook's photograph sharing capabilities.

People can use social media to find new friends with similar interests.
People can use social media to find new friends with similar interests.

Groups can be created by users. These can include anything from grade school connections to hobbies and interests. Groups can be public and available to everyone or private, meaning only those invited can join and view discussions. Similarly, the Events feature allows friends to organize parties, concerts, and other get togethers in the real world. Users can also become fans of everything such as people, organizations, television shows, movies, and musicians.

People often use Facebook to share photos of their children with distant relatives.
People often use Facebook to share photos of their children with distant relatives.

There are countless applications available to add to a profile. They range from a list of Top Friends to movie compatibility with others, and maps of where users have traveled. These applications are created by individuals outside of Facebook's employment who are known as Developers.

Users of the site can share news stories, video, and other files with friends. Most news and video websites have buttons that can be clicked to automatically share the story or video on a feed. The person sharing can make comments about the shared item that their friends will see.

Personal notes can also be written and shared with friends. When sharing an item, users can attach the item to their Wall for all to see, or can tag individual people that they think would be most interested in seeing the item. When a user is tagged, they receive an e-mail notification.

The site had a redesign in late 2008, intended to streamline the website and make it easier to see what friends were doing. It has seen outstanding growth since its inception and is poised to maintain its dominance in social networking. In early 2009, Facebook users worldwide were nearly double that of its older competitor MySpace.

Aspiring models might use Facebook as a way to promote past work.
Aspiring models might use Facebook as a way to promote past work.

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Discussion Comments


When signing in to Facebook why do you have to provide your password to your email account?


I like facebook because I can share anything. I can chat with other people and I can find a lot of new friends.


Facebook is a distraction to students at our school and does tend to get many pupils in trouble, resulting in Facebook being blocked. For countless reasons I hate Facebook and wish it had never been created!


I love facebook. It's a great way to keep in touch with friends. I mean, look at it this way, if someone's depressed and doesn't want to talk in person, you can talk to them on facebook. I love it and millions of other people do too. You just have to find some fun games!


i am an eleven year old girl who had facebook but i only ever use it if my mother is there with me. i make sure i don't add personal data or anything which i might regret later. so my advice is that you should only use it for good purposes and never bad.


Why make such a fuss? if you are not interested then it is your prerogative but do not be biased and bad mouth it. Facebook is a social networking site. if you do not want to socialize, do not join, and for God's sake, do not judge what is right and what is wrong! Period!


I guess successful use of "Facebook" does depend upon how it is used. Positive information is healthy, but true confessions, is a slippery slope. --Melody - no need to be anonymous.


If Facebook is a place to meet new people and network, why do they jump all over you if you try and "friend" other people you "may not know personally?"

Plus, they send suggestions of possible "friends" who are "friends of friends," yet Facebook blocks you, if you try and friend them! They really don't give the user much recourse to explain themselves either! People can use their power to have your account suspended, and you have no recourse against that action! Facebook is "Dog eat Dog" and unfair!


We think your article is great and inspiring. We are currently doing our GCSEs and have to do some coursework on technology so we chose facebook. Could you all comment on you do/don't think that facebook is a technological innovation? Thanks.


I really don't like the site. I really think it is a waste of time and it is for gossipers I don't care who uses it. It is not cool to give private information on the Internet.


Facebook is the oldest form of advertising. Iit was called "Word of Mouth." It is a great way to share good experiences, especially about a business you have used, or a nice restaurant you have eaten in, or a good deal you got when you purchased your car, or the wonderful service you enjoyed at certain motel. And businesses love these "Word of Mouth" promotions too!


I too was once on Facebook and I can't warn people enough about it! I was using my sister's pc and all of a sudden she was being tracked down by unknowns, simply because of the email addy! Not only that the one pic I'd posted wound up all over the net even though it was marked private. So much for trust on Facebook. I don't care what anyone else says about it, I'll never attempt it again. There's way too much identity theft out there to suit me.


Nice article. I found it while researching material for a brief write-up on my blog, as many readers have been asking what is Facebook and how it differs from a blog.


I think fb is a great source of networking. It is designed to do so many things. People add you as well as delete you. Some people have allowed themselves to get angry because others post personal things that others think should go in a journal. It's your personal page, and you should be able to post whatever you want if it's decent.


I think facebook is so cool, I get to network a lot and that will make me easily find a job under public relations when i finish studying. I am doing my second year now but already found people to help me out in finding a job.


Can Facebook be able find out someone that I'm looking for if that person doesn't join or have an account with facebook?


I recently joined FB because one of my friends sent me an e-mail. So I went along with it. I have not provided a picture or much extra information about myself.

The reason is that I am very unsure about who sees all the information and exactly how to use FB. I just went on line to as how to use FB and guess what? The site wants my cell phone# in order to find out anything about FB. Why is that? My cell phone number is my private business and I refuse to give it out except to family and friends. I think it is ridiculous. I guess if they won't let me learn how to use FB unless I give my cell phone number, I won't be using Facebook!


It's really simple folks. If you are a leader, facebook is a joke! If you are a follower you can't be without it. What would everyone else think of you? and that's your only concern, isn't it! Facebook is for fools, but fools are what make this world exist. The smart ones play the weak ones as it always was. Get a life.


Yes Facebook is the new thing and i think it is a good thing depending on that person's maturity. I do feel like sites like this are trying to replace the human presence.

Whatever happened to going out for coffee or talking on the phone? That's all I hear everyone talk about is facebook, facebook, facebook. I also think that these kids should not be on facebook for hours on end. They still need to be kids and get out there and have fun.

As parents we may not be able to control everything that goes on in their lives but we can help to put limits to this kind of stuff.


How can you keep your privacy when "your friends" would send your message and share anything or everything with their "friends".


I am a 16 year old- and am practically the only teen in school without facebook. The amount of meanness on facebook is alarming and I hate the fact the site is based upon judging 'how cool your friend's page is'

I don't care if everyone else is doing it. I'm not.


facebook may be the big trend and what life is becoming but is it being "real" ? A person can make their image to be what ever they want to portray. The "real" person is hidden behind all the trend. There is more to reality than fb and all the trendy passing idea. The question is what type of quality in relationships do you want? "Real or otherwise"?


A friend recently told me she has photos she wants me to see on Facebook. I have asked several people who are familiar with Facebook and, from what they say, I feel that it is not a good idea. I don't want to put personal information out there. I am concerned about the possibility of identity theft so I have decided not to join Facebook. An older woman in Florida.


Just don't write on the fb things you'd like to hide later, like things about your drinking habits. Remember your future spouse or employer will be able to read them.


I don't understand why people get confused about facebook. Some confess never to have used the site but still warn others on the dangers of joining it.

I had lost the contact of my college friends but to my surprise, I came to meet them on facebook so easily. I am now connected too with my high schoolmates who missed me a lot, too.

Facebook has been really so sweet and I real ask all of you out there to join and taste the flavor. I love you all.


in my opinion, fb can bring so many problems.


I am an older woman who has never been on facebook or any of those places so I think its a waste of time. whatever happened to meeting up with friends and family to have a face to face chat.


Facebook is an excellent way to meet friends and family and also chat with people you haven spoke to in years. It is useful in its own way.


I was "tricked" into joining Facebook sometime ago in 2007 by a friend. The friend had no bad intention but Facebook was too aggressive "collecting" members and I was upset by this. Today, I have a total different view. You can see "Twitter" "Facebook" "Digby" etc on almost every websites, business or social, corporations or individuals. People need to learn about their privacy policy rather than just to voice objection or simply avoiding. Like it or not, it's becoming the big trend.


It depends on how you use this networking website. it would be a waste of time or not.


Heard much about fb, although haven't been its user yet. Sometimes i wonder where modern technology is leading us to. It has its pros and cons i guess. If utilized positively it works marvels and vice versa. However in all things, give glory to God for He alone is the Alpha and the Omega. Without Him one can do nothing. Share with me only the good things on fb.


Facebook seems like a silly waste of time, designed for mostly 20 somethings to participate in meaningless and unnecessary chit chat.

Actually who cares about all these messages and updates anyhow?


I would never join Facebook. I keep in contact with my "friends" in other ways. I feel Facebook is another vehicle for people to post pictures and say negative or untrue things about other people. Many people use it for good, but many do not.

It is scary to me that someone could upload a picture they have of me, put it on their Facebook and spread a lie within minutes to multiple people all at once. I'd say be careful to anyone using this crazy fad.


I try finding people and then those jumbled up, half-faded words come up that I can't read and I get frustrated. Wish it worked a little easier without all that confusion.


I never knew about facebook until recently. I'm still not sure about it. I have a family member that I haven't seen in a long time, ask me if I was on facebook. I told her no. I'm really not sure of the site.


Facebook is easy.


Facebook is very easy to use. I don't know why everyone is so confused! It couldn't be easier.


i am 20 and i love to play farmville, zoo, petville and aquarium.it so totally awesome.


i joined a fb late last year its a nice communication chat but i can advise don't put private matters that can cause conflict between you and your partner.

your partner can be jealous even when you communicate with your friends, e.g. if a guy puts statement like "i still love you," ladies will respond by saying "and me too love, sweety" and other names, then it's where jealous is going to start because you won't know if that's the truth or what.


I am a 61 year old man and have a lot of friends/associates. However I am afraid of getting on Facebook because I am not sure of how it works or what I am supposed to do. Would you please help me to guide by giving me step by step directions. I really want to write about health insurance. How to make health insurance cheap and affordable.


I am a 60 year old mom and have a lot of friends/associates. However I am afraid of getting on Facebook because I am not sure of how it works or what I am supposed to do. Can you help me.


I have a lot of friends that have joined Facebook and they *love* it. I haven't joined. I feel like it takes a lot of time to keep up with it, and the people that I really want to keep in touch with I'm in contact with in other ways. Plus, there's something that just feels wrong about maintaining relationships and photos and all that through a website. I suppose that is the future, though, and I should get on board. :)

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