Social media took the world by storm in the 2010s, as many websites that allow social interactions like Facebook and Twitter have become massively popular due to how effective they are in bringing friends and family members closer, even if they are far away from each other. The most popular social media website in the world during the late 2000s was also overtaken by Facebook due to the latter’s innovative features that made communicating and sharing photos, videos, and stories much easier.
Facebook is one of the biggest and most recognizable brands in the world, and the website’s rise into popularity was quite quick, although there have been issues and controversies surrounding its journey to success. If you want to know more about Facebook, here is some background about the company and its impact on pop culture.
What is Facebook?
Facebook is an online social network and social media service that was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow students at Harvard College (an undergraduate college of Harvard University, namely Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz, and Andrew McCollum. The name of the service is derived from the term “face book,” which is a directory given to university students in the US so that they can get information on other students’ names and faces.
The original name of Facebook was “Thefacebook,” and it featured Al Pacino’s face that is superimposed with binary numbers as the original logo. Before “Thefacebook,” Mark Zuckerberg created a website called “Facemash,” wherein students at Harvard College could vote on who they think are the hottest students based on their photos available from their dorms’ online face books.  Zuckerberg’s friends at the college would later help him manage “Thefacebook,” which expanded to Standford University, Yale University, and Columbia University during the early months of 2004.
By the middle of 2004, Sean Park, the co-founder of a file-sharing application called Napster, became Facebook’s president after working with Zuckerberg as an informal advisor. The company quickly became successful, and by June 2004, Zuckerberg and his executives set up the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
As of 2022, Facebook has more than 3 billion monthly active users and is ranked as one of the most visited websites in the world. Besides being one of the most visited, Facebook is also one of the most downloaded mobile apps.
Cultural Impact of Facebook
Facebook had a massive impact on many aspects of society starting from the 2010s, and these aspects include politics, mental health, and the economy. In pop culture, Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have been referenced and mentioned in various forms of entertainment, like books, films, TV shows, and songs.
Zuckerberg’s story of how Facebook was made was turned into a film titled “The Social Network,” which premiered in 2010. The Social Network was directed by David Fincher (the director of popular films like Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and written by Aaron Sorkin (the screenwriter for A Few Good Men and Moneyball). Zuckerberg is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg in the film.
A few of the words and terms that are used today have originated from Facebook. The term “unfriend” or “unfriended,” which is supposed to mean to remove someone as a friend on Facebook, was declared by the New Oxford American Dictionary as an official word in 2009. In 2008, the Collins English Dictionary declared that “Facebook” is the new Word of the Year. 
In terms of daily living, many people today rely on Facebook for many things, including communicating with their loved ones and reading or watching the news. In 2016, it was determined that about 44 percent of the US population used Facebook to get news.  Moreover, many companies post ads on Facebook because social media advertising and marketing have become much more successful compared to print ads because of their affordability and wider reach.
Facebook’s Data Privacy Controversies
Because of how much personal data is uploaded on Facebook by its billions of users, the company has been through many controversies surrounding its handling of personal data and data privacy. Since 2009, the company has been a participant in the PRISM secret program, which is organized by the US National Security Agency for the participants to share audio, video, photos, documents, e-mails, and other pieces of personal information uploaded through user profiles or accounts. 
In addition, Facebook has experienced major data breaches since 2018, when billions of users and their data were exposed. It was reported that billions of users’ data had been stolen through Facebook, and the data included phone numbers, email addresses, and birthdates. Because of the numerous issues with data privacy and breaches, Facebook constantly changed its privacy settings and policies.
Despite the many issues with Facebook’s data privacy and security, there are still billions of people around the world who are using the app. The reason why people are still using Facebook is because no other social media service can match the features and benefits that Facebook provides currently. There may be a time when Facebook will get overtaken by another social media service, but as of the moment, using Facebook is still a part of everyone’s daily lives because of how convenient and beneficial it is for many people.
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 Simpson, D., & Brown, P. (2013, September 30). NSA mines Facebook for connections, including Americans’ profiles. CNN. Retrieved September 7, 2023, from https://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/30/us/nsa-social-networks/index.html