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A closer look at 10 major Facebook milestones

Yesterday, Facebook turned 10 years old. What started out as a side project in Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room is now a social network powerhouse – a way to waste time and stalk your ex, but also a platform for anyone with an Internet connection and an idea.

To commemorate the achievement of a decade in business, Facebook is letting its users look back with a new tool that provides them with a collection of their most important and poignant moments on the site.

And we also thought the moment was ripe to compile this list of 10 milestones in Facebook's history. They might not be the biggest or most controversial moments, but they made an impact on how people interact with the site, and have shaped what the social network has become. Check out our list, and add your own Facebook moments in the comments below.

Opening to the general public

Facebook debuted at Zuckerberg's alma mater, Harvard University. It later expanded to Stanford, Columbia and Yale, and was available on 800 US college networks a little over a year after its debut. But it wasn't until 26 September 2006 that Facebook graduated from college and high school students to the general public – opening up the social network to anyone with an email address. Three months later, it was at 12 million users, up from 6 million a year before.

Facebook Mobile launches

Facebook's adventures in mobile date back to 2006, before the iPhone and the launch of Android. But things didn't really pick up until years later. When the firm released documents ahead of its 2012 IPO, Facebook revealed that it had 425 million mobile users, but was not yet making any money off them. That has changed pretty significantly, with Zuckerberg last year referring to Facebook as a "mobile company."


Among Facebook's most well-known privacy snafus was Beacon, which tied purchases outside of Facebook to your account and broadcast it on your news feed. A number of users didn't really understand how it worked, though, and ended up posting information about holiday, birthday, and anniversary gifts in full view of the intended recipient, prompting complaints that "Facebook ruined Christmas." The gaffe prompted a mea culpa from Zuckerberg, the social network was hit with a class action suit, and it ultimately shuttered Beacon for good.

The "Like" button is born

It might seem as if the "Like" button has always been on Facebook, but it didn't actually appear until February 2009. That blue and white thumbs-up icon is now synonymous with Facebook.

Open Graph

Facebook looked beyond the confines of its own website in 2010 with the launch of Open Graph, which allowed third-party sites to tie their users' activities to Facebook. If you listened to a song on Spotify, you could share that fact on Facebook with minimal effort. But not everyone enjoyed sharing their embarrassing playlists or guilty pleasures on Facebook, forcing services like Spotify to let users opt out. But it's all part of Zuckerberg's efforts to "make the world more open and connected" – even if his account is locked down.

The president at Facebook

In a sign of the times, US President Obama selected Facebook as the site for a 2011 town hall in Silicon Valley. Just seven years after launching his social network, Zuckerberg – who ditched the trademark hoodie for the occasion – was quizzing the president of the United States about immigration, STEM, and clean energy.

Facebook goes public

With much fanfare, Facebook went public on the NASDAQ on 18 May 2012. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite the blowout which investors were hoping for thanks to some opening day glitches. The stock price suffered and Zuckerberg later admitted that the experience was "disappointing." Still, the IPO made Zuck and his initial investors very (very) wealthy, so don't pity this gang too much.

Facebook buys Instagram

One month before the IPO, meanwhile, Facebook shelled out an astonishing $1 billion (£610 million) for photo-sharing site Instagram. In a note about the purchase, Zuckerberg said Facebook had focused for years on "building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family." The Instagram acquisition will "offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests," he said. There's also the question of making money: Instagram ads rolled out last year.

Facebook “deceived” users

In 2009, Facebook rolled out changes intended to provide users with more control over access to profile content. But once again, users were confused as to what information on their profiles was public and private. The issue was picked up by the Federal Trade Commission, which in 2011 settled charges that the social network deceived consumers by failing to keep their information private, despite assurances that it would. "I founded Facebook on the idea that people want to share and connect with people in their lives, but to do this everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times," Zuckerberg said in announcing the FTC deal.

One Billion Facebook users

By October 2012, Facebook had topped the 1 billion active user milestone. "Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life. I am committed to working every day to make Facebook better for you, and hopefully together one day we will be able to connect the rest of the world too," Zuckerberg said at the time.