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Mark Zuckerberg (b. 1984)
“Facebook, the 800-pound gorilla of the social networking world, is one of the most significant communications platforms of the modern era. While the site was not the first online service that enabled people to exchange information about themselves or publicly promote their interests, it was the service that took the phenomenon global. Facebook raised public awareness about what constituted “social networking” and brought into focus how a simple piece of software could enable the everyday person to have a voice disproportionate to his or her economic position, geographic location, or access to sources of community organization and influence—a voice bounded only by the strength of what he or she had to say.
Facebook also served as a widespread wake-up call to traditional media outlets that their business models were ripe for disruption, as the mass media’s audience flipped and went from being consumers of media to creators. Now suddenly people were their own storytellers, editors, publishers, neighborhood leaders, or global trailblazers with a platform for instantaneous projection of information around the world.
Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Harvard students who developed a centralized website to connect students across the university. The early roots of the Facebook site are generally believed to have originated with Zuckerberg’s short-lived “FaceMash” site, which gamified the choice of who was more attractive among pairs of people. The launch of “TheFacebook,” as it was first called, demonstrated that there was an unfulfilled desire to connect with and learn about other people—at least among the Harvard student body. Along the way there were various legal challenges and allegations of idea theft, including a lawsuit by two brothers named Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who ended up with a settlement worth $65 million—chump change, compared to Facebook’s 2017 market value of more than $500 billion.
Facebook quickly expanded beyond Harvard and opened to other universities, eventually turning into a business that was inclusive of anyone who wanted to join. In March 2017, the site had 1.94 billion monthly active user accounts.”
SEE ALSO Blog Is Coined (1999), Social Media Enables the Arab Spring (2011)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill, on April 10, 2018, about the use of Facebook data in the 2016 US presidential election.