It is hard to imagine life without Facebook. Wait, one of my best friends is still not on Facebook so maybe it’s not that hard to imagine it after all! Anyway, earlier this year in about May time, Facebook alerted me that I have been on Facebook for 10 years. A whole decade on Facebook, so many wasted hours of my life I thought, but so many other connections too. It really feels like yesterday when I writing about my 5 Years on Facebook.
When I joined back in 2006, Facebook really was a niche network, just available to University students, you simply could not have an account on it without a university email address, it was a closed network and only available to that university. A directory of students for Imperial College only with the wall, groups and photo sharing. There was no newsfeed, no elaborate status updates and obviously there were no smartphones at the time, so it was a desktop version only. In April 2006, it came to Imperial College and spread like wildfire at the tech savvy campus. Soon my hockey team was on it, and so was my music club. Facebook was all student banter at the time, a safe place away from the rest of the world.
It was a big company in its own right at that stage, but early social media wasn’t really mainstream then. Although I have covered what it was like in the early days in my 5 years on Facebook blog post, looking back here are the big changes Facebook has gone through over the last 10 years from my own memory.
- Opening Facebook to schools as well, in addition to universities – Uni students were not happy about this.
- Joining the closed university networks into one – This killed off the internal privacy universities had, and Imperial Students could see the groups of say, Harvard. This was a pretty cool move actually, and I made a lot of friends in the US that way. In fact in 2014 I visited the US and met one of them in person. And some have been to London and I have met them.
- Mini feed – Students hated this one initially, no one wanted what they were writing on other friends walls or pictures they were uploading plastered for everyone to see. It was even called “stalkbook” by students for a while. It is hard to imagine Facebook without its newsfeed now, but believe it or not there was no newsfeed once upon a time.
- Opening up Facebook to the rest of the world – To students this was the ultimate betrayal, and watering down of Facebook. Facebook was no longer there for student banter, and everyone was in on this now. This happened in 2007, and Facebook started to appear in mainstream newspapers by then.
- Facebook going mobile – No doubt this has caused the biggest growth for Facebook. The addictive power of Facebook on mobiles has killed off countless hours for its users.
- Ditching Forum Type Discussions and Facebook Pages – Facebook ditched posts with subject threads, and went all out for the timeline only option for its groups. It also launched Facebook Pages.
- Timeline – Old posts were getting buried deep into Facebook, so Facebook smartened up and re-organised all the data in organised year by timelines on profiles and pages.
- On This Day – Old items were buried in the past. On this Day has been a clever way of bringing out old posts and reviving them.
- New Newsfeed – Facebook learnt from twitter and introduced a new newsfeed and with @ type mentions. Replies also became embedded within the wall. Before that in order to reply to someone else you would have to go to their wall.
- Facebook Livestream – By far the coolest thing Facebook have done for me. They took a leaf out of Google Hangouts books and introduced real time video livestreaming for anyone. This is brand new for 2016 and Facebook have really pushed this hard. Not many use it, but I do, especially to livestream my own gigs and my band gigs.
10 years in the world of computing is a huge amount and Facebook has become a global phenomenon in its own right. It has poltical clout and has no doubt affected politics around the world. For me, it remains an awesome new way to keep in touch with old friends and continuously make new ones. Its addictive power can be problem however, and it is best to consider it as part of a real social network. I am glad I was part of this right from (nearly) the very start. Looking forward to what lies ahead!