Facebook, now known as Meta, has undergone numerous redesigns over the past 20 years but its goal of connecting people online and making money from advertising has remained the same. Here are four ways Facebook has changed the world:
1. Facebook revolutionized social media: While other social networks like MySpace existed before Facebook, it quickly became the dominant platform after its launch in 2004. Within a year, it had one million users and surpassed MySpace in four years. Innovations like photo tagging and the constantly changing activity feed attracted early users. Today, Facebook has over 2.11 billion daily users.
2. Facebook monetized personal data: Facebook’s parent company Meta is now an advertising giant, generating billions in revenue by collecting and utilizing user data for targeted ads. However, Facebook has faced fines and scandals for mishandling personal data, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2014.
3. Facebook became a political tool: With its targeted advertising capabilities, Facebook has become a major platform for election campaigning worldwide. It has also played a role in grassroots politics, facilitating global coordination and spreading news during events like the Arab Spring. However, its impact on human rights and its role in inciting violence have been criticized.
4. Facebook’s dominance led to Meta’s expansion: Mark Zuckerberg built an empire by acquiring companies like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus under the umbrella of Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in 2021. Meta now claims that over three billion people use at least one of its products daily. Meta has also been accused of copying competitors to maintain its dominance.
Looking ahead, Meta faces challenges in maintaining its position as the most popular social network due to industry changes and its own push towards building the Metaverse and investing in artificial intelligence. However, given its enduring popularity, it is uncertain whether the world is ready to move on from Facebook.