Facebook is a social networking service that was created by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Initially designed as a networking tool for Harvard students, it quickly spread to other schools and was finally opened to the public in 2006. Facebook is now, by a very wide margin, the biggest social network on the planet
As of March 2012, Facebook had 901 million monthly active users worldwide
Facebook.com is run by the Palo Alto, California-based Facebook Inc. In 2011, Facebook generated 3.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenue
, most of which derived from advertising sales. The amount of data the company collects from its users enables it to sell well-targeted advertising space, which is why Facebook’s advertising business
is expected to grow vastly in the years to come. Facebook filed for an initial public offering in February 2012 and made its stock market debut on May 18. Raising 16 billion U.S. dollars at a valuation of 104 billion U.S. dollars, Facebook's IPO was among the largest IPOs of all time, dwarfing those of other Internet companies, such as Google and Amazon
Facebook allows its users to create their own Facebook page, add friends and share personal updates and photos. According to Facebook user statistics
, a very popular feature of Facebook is the “like button”. Designed to facilitate feedback and recommendations to friends, it is now integrated into virtually every major website, especially those offering content. The “like button” also opened the door for marketers to benefit from Facebook’s popularity. Facebook enables brands to address their fans directly, which is why marketers put a lot of effort into generating Facebook fans. Major companies like Disney, Coca Cola and Nike have tens of millions of Facebook fans according to this brand ranking
Facebook’s popularity experienced an initial peak in 2010, when its founding story was turned into a movie. The movie, simply named “The Social Network”, was directed by David Fincher and focused on the personality of Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It was well received by both critics and audiences and earned three Oscars at the 2011 Academy Awards.
In recent years, Facebook has repeatedly drawn criticism for its stance on users’ privacy. The terms of privacy and its controls have often been tweaked and are regarded as overly complicated by many users. A 2011 survey on Facebook privacy
among Internet users in the U.S. showed that 27% of the respondents were very concerned about the privacy of their personal data on Facebook.