An Internet baby is rocking the world!
Launched globally only on Sept. 11, 2006, Facebook is zooming to the top of the social networking world, leaving MySpace, Friendster and the other oldies gasping for breath.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
As a testament of its growing popularity, Microsoft Corp. beat out rival Google Inc. yesterday (Oct. 24) in a battle to invest in Facebook, agreeing to pay $240 million for a roughly 1.6 percent stake in the Web phenomenon and expand a deal to sell advertising.
Microsoft and Facebook said the $240 million investment valued Facebook at $15 billion, which analysts said was a steep price and a bet the young company would be able to transform itself into a hub for all sorts of Web activity.
As of July 2007, Facebook had the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites with over 34 million active members worldwide (also from non-collegiate networks).
From September 2006 to September 2007, it increased its ranking from 60th to 7th most visited Web site, and was the number one site for photos in the United States, ahead of public sites such as Flickr, with over 8.5 million photos uploaded daily.
What’s the secret to Facebook’s skyrocketing success?
Well, it’s got all the best of almost anything and everything you want in a socializing Web site. It’s packed with fascinating features that the other sites don’t have, like the Applications where you can pick up any socializing applications available at the site and from others as well and put them in your own Facebook. Sky’s the limit as to the number of applications you can add.
I personally like best the “Superpoke” application where I could send funny, endearing, sweet messages to my friends even without speaking a word.
The interesting features in Facebook are:
* The Wall — a space on each user’s profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see. One user’s wall is visible to anyone with the ability to see their full profile, and different users’ wall posts show up in an individual’s News Feed. Many users use their friend’s walls for leaving short notes. More private discourse is saved for Messages, which are sent to a person’s Inbox, and are visible only to the sender and recipient(s) of the Message, much like email.
* Gifts — Friends could send “gifts” — small icons of novelty items designed by former Apple designer Susan Kare — to each other by selecting one from Facebook’s virtual gift shop and adding a message. Gifts given to a user appear on the recipient’s wall with the giver’s message, unless the giver decided to give the gift privately, in which case the giver’s name and message is not displayed to other users. Facebook users are given one free gift to give upon account signup. Each additional gift given by a user costs $1.00.
* Pokes — Facebook includes a “poke” feature which allows one user to send a “poke” to another. According to Facebook’s FAQ section on the Poke Feature, “a poke is a way to interact with your friends on Facebook. When we created the poke, we thought it would be cool to have a feature without any specific purpose. People interpret the poke in many different ways, and we encourage you to come up with your own meanings.”
In principle this is intended to serve as a “nudge” to attract the attention of the other user. However while many Facebook users, as intended, use the feature to attract attention or say hello, some users construe it as a sexual advance. This interpretation of the feature inspired a popular Facebook group titled “Enough with the Poking, Lets Just Have Sex,” which, as of September 2007, has more than 250,000 members.
Friends often engage in what is known as a “poke war,” where the poke is exchanged back and forth continuously between two users by using the “poke back” feature.
There are several new applications such as “X Me” and “SuperPoke!”, that allow users to put any action in place of the word “poke.”
* Applications – This feature provides a framework for developers to create applications that interact with core Facebook features.
Among the most popular applications are Top Friends, which allows users to select and display their favorite friends; Graffiti, which gives users a visual version of Facebook’s wall; and iLike, a social music discovery service that features concert information and a music trivia game, similar to the one featured on the iPod. Third-party websites such as Adonomics, which provides application metrics, and blogs such as AppRate, Inside Facebook and Face Reviews have sprung up in response to the clamor for Facebook applications. Even games such as chess and Scrabble are available.
* Facebook Video — Users can add their videos with the service by uploading video, adding video through Facebook Mobile, and using a webcam recording feature. Additionally, users can “tag” their friends in videos they add much like the way users can tag their friends in photos. This feature was expected to increase competition with MySpace.
However, the Facebook Video Application does not allow sharing videos outside of Facebook. Users will not be able to export or download videos from Facebook.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, a former member of the Harvard Class of 2006. Initially the membership was restricted to students of Harvard College. It was subsequently expanded to other Boston area schools (Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern University, Tufts University), Rochester, Stanford, NYU, Northwestern, and all Ivy League schools within two months.
Many individual universities were added in rapid succession over the next year. Eventually, people with a university (e.g .edu, .ac.uk, etc.) email address from institutions across the globe were eligible to join. Networks were then initiated for high schools and some large companies.
Since Sept. 11, 2006, it has been made available to any email address user who inputs a certain age range. Users can select to join one or more participating networks, such as a high school, place of employment, or geographic region.
Facebook is free to users and generates revenue from advertising including banner ads and sponsored groups (in April 2006, revenue was rumored to be over $1.5 million per week).
Users create profiles that often contain photos and lists of personal interests, exchange private or public messages, and join groups of friends. The viewing of detailed profile data is restricted to users from the same network or confirmed friends.
According to Chris Hughes, spokesman for Facebook, “People spend an average of 19 minutes a day on Facebook.”
In a 2006 study conducted by Student Monitor, a New Jersey-based limited liability company specializing in research concerning the college student market, Facebook was named as the second most “in” thing among undergraduates, tied with beer and sex and losing only to the iPod.
Tied with sex? Does it mean Facebook could be an alternative to sex? Hmm … that’s certainly an interesting idea. Well, come to think of it, having a Facebook page is also like sex, but instead of impregnating someone, you impregnate all your friends there with endearing thoughts of how much they mean to you.
I got a Facebook account. If you want to see more of me there, we’ll just get in touch through here.