Facebook Turns 20


By Macey Williams

March 19, 2024

February 4th, 2024 was a momentous occasion for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook turned 20 years old. From infancy the social media platform took the world by storm. Much like a human life, the platform has continued to develop and take its place in society. To celebrate its 20th birthday, take a walk down memory lane and peruse the pages of Facebook’s memory bank.


On February 4th, 2004 Mark Zuckerberg launched a platform called “TheFacebook” from his dorm room at Harvard University. The site instantly gained notoriety proving the importance and need for a social platform. Although MySpace was still reigning supreme, Zuckerberg’s site passed a huge milestone on April 13th, 2004 by establishing itself as a limited liability company. This newfound legal structure gave the company a framework and ensured legal clarity during the early stages of growth. Later that year the first investor became part of the company, helping to pioneer new features that would pave the way for future growth. In less than a year after its launch, Facebook had one million users./span>
In 2005, the domain facebook.com was acquired, leading Zuckerberg to drop the “The” from the original name. December 2005 saw the catalyst feature of tagging come to the forefront. The ability to identify and mention friends in pictures, posts and comments enriched the social interaction on the platform and increased user engagement.
News feeds were launched in 2006, providing users with a real-time, personalised stream of updates. The considerable shift in content delivery and overall user experience shot the platform to fame.

Early Childhood

Within four years of its launch, Facebook had overtaken MySpace. Its rise was fuelled by many innovations – namely the ability to tag other users in photos. The beginning of 2007 saw the platform go mobile. This further enhanced the image quality and convenience of social networking through technology. In May, the Facebook Platform was unveiled, allowing developers to create third-party applications, games, and features within the Facebook ecosystem. The move opened doors for new innovative opportunities.
On October 2nd, 2008, Facebook planted their roots in international waters. The Dublin headquarters was established, signalling the company’s global expansion and commitment to serving the growing user base.
In February 2009, Facebook introduced the iconic “Like” button. The integration of a button to allow users to express their approval for a post or comment reshaped user interaction.

Middle Childhood

2011 saw Facebook and Skype partner to enable video chats within the platform. The goal to enable users to carry on real-time video conversations with their friends directly on Facebook. In November, the Facebook Timeline was introduced. The structured presentation of profiles revolutionised user profiles, offering a new and more story-like approach to presenting personal content.
Featured posts were implemented in early 2012 to give users greater control over the visibility of particular posts when shared among friends. Months later, Facebook acquired Instagram and strengthened the company’s role in both mobile and visual content. October saw an important milestone overturned as the platform reached one billion active users.
In 2013, users were given an appealing and colourful way to express themselves with the implementation of stickers. The addition of this feature made communication on the platform more fun and light-hearted.
Facebook introduced the Look Back videos in February of 2014, enabling users to create a personal video compilation of their memories on the platform. Representing a creative and nostalgic addition to Facebook’s products the feature increased user involvement and interactions.


The pivotal moment for engagement on the platform came in February of 2016 with the introduction of Reactions. The feature allowed users to express their emotions towards posts in a nuanced way. A feature that took users by surprise in June was the “secret” soccer game within Messenger. While the integration was a short-lived hit, it was a step into entertainment on the platform.
April 2017 saw the platform delve into the virtual reality space with Facebook Spaces. The experience gave users a space to interact with one another in a shared virtual environment, marking the company’s interest in the virtual world.
Say goodbye to Facebook Inc. and hello to Meta Platforms Inc. In October 2021, the name change took place, reflecting their expanded focus on the metaverse. This is where Zuckerberg dove head-first into taking social media beyond the barrier and treating it as a vision of the world where it is part platform and part “real”.
Among the focus on the virtual world, the first noticeable drop in daily active users was recorded in February 2022. Which raised the question if Facebook user engagement was dropping? To combat the decline, Facebook launched a new Community Chats feature. Combining Messager and Facebook Groups, the feature allowed users to create real-time chat, voice, and video channels in the Messenger app.
October 2022, Meta’s partnership with NBCUniversal and Microsoft aimed to mark a new era for Quest VR. The aim was to create a world in which people can communicate, work together, play games, and share experiences through Quest VR. On the 25th of October, the Quest Pro, Meta’s VR headset was launched. The target was to give users a sense of “mixed reality”.


While Facebook has not spent much time in the adulthood realm, there have been many advances made. In February of last year, the Creator Studio merged with Business Suite to introduce enhanced features such as insights, Ads Manager, and monetisation tools. In the same month, Meta announced the creation of a new group focused on generative AI. The group aims to offer “creative and expressive tools” such as AI-powered chat experiences.
By May 2023, Meta introduced augmented reality to Reels Ads and Facebook Stories, bringing a new dimension to the user experience. The move enhanced marketing with immersive experiences and AR filters to further engage audiences, specifically Gen Z. Additionally, brands can collaborate with third-party measurement partners for Reels Ads campaigns.
In September, Facebook announced a new AI Experience across apps and devices. Meta released AI stickers and editing tools, Meta AI – a controversial assistant plans to offer AIs to businesses and creators, also adding an AI studio for companies to customise and build their own AIs.
The conclude the year, October saw Meta and Ray-Ban launch the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses. In November The Teach Coalition launched Lantern, the first child-safety cross-platform sharing program. In an alliance of global tech companies, including Meta, the aim is to fight online child exploitation.
From TheFacebook, to Facebook Inc., to Meta, the company has grown exponentially over it’s 20 years of life. Shifting from purely social networking to virtual reality, AI and beyond, the company is bound to continue on the trajectory it has set. As it stands, Meta is breaking ground every week and will continue to keep the digital world on its toes.


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