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Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg Profile

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University roommates, Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site. Originally created to help Harvard students communicate more easily with each other, eventually the site spread throughout other schools and ultimately worldwide. Because of this spike in popularity, the site – and Zuckerberg – has been subject to criticism. With some countries banning the site altogether, and others questioning its privacy policies, Facebook has had to adapt but still retains a huge presence online. The 2010 film, The Social Network, dramatizes the development of the site, and places Facebook under even more scrutiny. In this video, explores the meteoric rise of The Social Network, Facebook.

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The Beginning

Facebook was founded in February 2004 by Harvard roommates Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moscovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin.

Originally designed to help people communicate effectively online, Facebook evolved to become a forum for information sharing as well. Today, Facebook is by far the largest image-sharing site in the world.

From Harvard to the World

Initially only offered to Harvard students, it wasn’t long before Facebook expanded to Stanford, Columbia, Yale and many other universities across the U.S. and Canada. It was finally made available to the general population in September 2006.

Launch of 'Platform'

Evolving rapidly, the site launched Facebook Platform in 2007. This allowed developers to create applications on Facebook that worked together with the site’s features. Some notable apps have included Gifts, which allows users to share virtual gifts; Marketplace, which is a classified ad section of the site; and Video, which gives users the chance to share videos with each other.

Partnership with Microsoft

2007 also saw Facebook expand their search partnership with Microsoft. The computing giants purchased a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook in exchange for a $240 million investment. Rumors swirled at the time that Zuckerberg had walked away from an all-out acquisition by Microsoft estimated to be $8 to $15 billion.

Facebook Connect

By 2008, the site launched Facebook Connect, a service that allowed users to sign in to various sites across the web using their Facebook account credentials. This project both simplified navigation and increased engagement. However it also added to the criticism of Facebook’s ever-growing reach and influence.

Increasing Reach and Influence

Since then, Facebook has become the largest social networking site in the world, surpassing rival MySpace in April of 2008. By August of 2010, Facebook leap-frogged over Google as the property on which users spent the most time. This year also marked another milestone for Facebook crossing 500 million users, with no signs of slowing down.

Mark Zuckerberg: Last Man Standing

Mark Zuckerberg was the last founding member to remain with Facebook. A special clause in his contract allows him to stay on CEO as long as he chooses. As of 2010, the wonder kid owned more than a quarter of Facebook stock, and controlled three of five board seats.

Winklevoss Lawsuit

His success did come at a price, however. In 2007, a lawsuit was filed against Facebook and Zuckerberg by three Harvard classmates - Divya Narendra and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The three alleged that the idea and source code for Facebook was in fact stolen from them when they had hired a young Zuckerberg to build their website called Harvard Connection. The case was settled with Facebook agreeing to pay $65 million to the trio.

The Competition

Over the years, various start-ups have attempted to steal Facebook’s thunder. Sites like Twitter and Foursquare have done little to negatively impact Facebook’s popularity online. However they have influenced Zuckerberg to update functions and add features to woo celebrities and organizations, as well as satisfy average user needs.

Facebook, the Employer

Despite widespread criticism, Facebook is considered one of the best tech companies to work for, with the promise of an IPO payout.

The Facebook Movie

Proving the site and its mythology have taken on a life of their own, a 2010 film called The Social Network chronicled the early days of the company and its meteoric rise. However, the film also placed the company under the spotlight as never before. Part fact, part dramatization, the film did nothing more than solidify Facebook’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s respective places in the history books.

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