Ten years ago yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg flipped the switch on The Facebook, inviting students at Harvard and then the world to like, friend, poke, share, and ruminate on their every waking moment.
In the decade since the social network went live, it has dropped the “the” and had more than its share of makeovers, transforming from a cluttered catch-all to the sleek, photo-filled Timeline we know today.
Although each and every Facebook profile and news feed overhaul has been met with the inevitable loud complaints and threats of boycotts, users eventually simmered down and in most cases they forgot what the old site looked like. Can you really say you remember the layout of your profile before the Timeline was introduced in 2011? Are you satisfied with the news feed of today or would you prefer a return to 2009, when it was largely a list of who made friends with who that day.
By now, Facebook is home to average web users, celebrities, businesses, members of parliament, and even a few pets. It’s on your PC and your smartphone, in the pages of magazines and on TV.
Zuckerberg’s rocky rise to fame was even charted in an Academy Award-winning film penned by West Wing scribe Aaron Sorkin.
As Facebook gears up for the next decade, take a look back at the early years of the social network, the evolution of the profile and news feed, and other features that were added along the way.
Our story starts way back at the beginning of February 2004, with the launch of...
The Facebook debuted on 4 February 2004 at Zuckerberg's alma mater, Harvard University. One month later, it also went live at Stanford, Columbia, and Yale, and by May 2005 it grew to support more than 800 US college networks.
Facebook 2005 Profile
In 2005, a profile on The Facebook had many of the details you might find on today's Facebook profile, but it still had a very MySpace vibe.
On 20 September 2005 thefacebook.com officially dropped the "the" and became Facebook, paving the way for this 2006 design, complete with a larger photo, and a font that was a bit more pleasing to the eye.
One year later, Facebook got a more adult makeover, which included the addition of the Mini-Feed, or a timeline of a friend's Facebook activity directly on their profile. Several weeks after the Mini-Feed went live, Facebook moved beyond schools and opened to anyone with an email address.
Summer 2008 was the dawn of "new Facebook," which included a cleaner menu bar up top, as well as tabs that separated your activity and other profile data.
By March 2009, Facebook also rolled out a new homepage. It added the Publisher tool from user profiles to the main homepage to let you post links, photos, videos, or write a note without an extra click.
In 2010, it was time for another makeover. Probably the most interesting change was the array of photos that appeared near the top of the page.
The launch of the Open Graph in 2010 added activity outside of Facebook to the timeline. It had to be approved by the user, but some people didn't realise that they were sharing their activity on sites like Vevo or Spotify, leading to some embarrassing revelations.
Zuckerberg kicked off the 2011 f8 developer conference with an ambitious new Facebook interface that “tells the story of your life” – the Timeline. It featured a large cover photo and a Pinterest-like assortment of posts that scrolled back through your Facebook history.
Open Graph allowed developers to integrate apps with the Timeline platform to give users the ability to make specific things like their music lists, recipes, or athletic achievements branch off from their main Timelines as little self-contained chronologies.
In early 2012, Facebook rolled out a new photo viewer that displayed larger photos with comments and ads shifted to the right-hand side when expanded.
In March 2013, the Timeline got a small update. Specifically, the social network introduced better ways for apps to appear on the Timeline, improved controls for users, and streamlined tools for setting up Open Graph.
In the last few years, Facebook has taken a few queues from Twitter, including hashtags, verified accounts, and also…
Facebook has also introduced trending topics, which rolled out last month.
While you're here, you might also want to check out our closer look at 10 major Facebook milestones.