Facebook has come a long way since its 2003 appearance on the scene as ‘Facemash’.
Since it re-branded to the ‘The Facebook’ in 2004, the platform’s main offering has been the same – to host a directory of profiles for users so they can social network. What’s changed over time; however, is that now profiles are more about showing – and the algorithm learning – what users are sharing and posting. It’s also geared towards exposing users to new content, connections and, of course, advertising.
Facebook of today is less about sharing general information like relationship status, gender, age, etc. or simply communing. It’s evolved to become the leader of the attention economy, piquing your curiosity about everything you’re interested in and what you didn’t even know you wanted to know. With prompts throughout the interface to ‘join this group’, ‘subscribe to this content’, ‘connect with that long lost friend’, ‘watch this video’ etc. it’s the perfect ecosystem for advertisers, culminating in Facebook’s reported $117.9b revenue in 2021.
Like Google and YouTube, personalisation has become the platform’s stock-in-trade but with it has come increasing calls for the tech giant to address mounting privacy concerns. It’s reported that Apple’s i0S update (in which Apple users are given the opportunity to turn off tracking in a bid to preserve privacy) will cost Facebook $10b this year.
From a design point of view, Facebook has been always neat and practical. They don’t allow users to insert unnecessary HTML code, for example, and by denying this type of customisation, the platform has maintained a uniform and streamlined appearance.
As far as functionality, Facebook is ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’. The launch of ‘Stories’ was likely an addition based on threat posed to Facebook’s dominance by Snapchat and TikTok.