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Facebook has come a very long way since first opening its doors to the public back in 2004. The social network has grown so much, that many are now considering it the most powerful force on the web next to Google, not to mention, a serious threat to the search kings crown. Seeing that the site is well on its way to the unbelievable milestone of 600 million users, it is safe to say that public perception has changed dramatically since Facebook emerged on the scene.
In the Beginning
Upon first being released, membership to the Facebook site was limited to students attending Harvard University. Shortly thereafter, membership was opened to students at Stanford, Columbia, Yale and Ivy League schools before eventually expanding to most schools in the United States and Canada. One could argue that the exclusivity of the early days hurt the site in terms of popularity. With several people believing it was only available to current and past students even after membership had opened up completely, most opted to spend their time interacting on other social networks. This would seemingly change in the blink of an eye.
Rise to The Top
For two long years, MySpace dominated the social networking space as the number one site. In no time, the site attracted 100 million users and for a moment, it looked as if it could not be stopped. However, while MySpace adopted new features and became more cluttered, Facebook maintained its simplicity and continued to attract new users in the process. According to data from comScore, it surpassed MySpace in April of 2008 as the leading social network, the time when it started to consistently gain more traffic than any other site in the same league. From there, it was no turning back.
A Viable Business Tool
Facebook is currently a major success, going from a site reserved for college students to one that is enjoyed by millions of people all around the world. Over the years, developers have flocked to the site to contribute a variety of apps to the platform, while Microsoft and numerous brands have invested their advertising dollars. With features such as fan pages, groups, and the sheer ability to communicate, it has become a powerful marketing tool that numerous companies rely on to engage their audiences. The fact that Facebook inspired a motion picture illustrates how public perception has gone from viewing the site as an afterthought to realizing that it is a global phenomenon.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Facebooks rise to power has not been without struggles and criticism. One of its biggest challenges has been related to privacy as the site has so many users and handles such a large amount of personal data. That has not stopped it from growing and continuing to make an impact. Social networking has proven to be a fragile business, so there is no telling how long Facebook will remain on top. For now, it is the undisputed king and though its reputation is not flawless, the public as a whole appears to be in favor of that title.