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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Facebook at 20: International changes sparked by the app

From a college dorm room project to a global phenomenon, Facebook has redefined social networking, reshaped the digital realm and brought up debates on privacy, politics, and innovation. Facebook has left an indelible mark on the world, covering its triumphs, controversies and the path forward as it metamorphoses into Meta.

If you take a glance back to what Facebook looked like back then known as The Facebook, started when Mark Zuckerberg and a few friends launched it from their college dorm room 20 years ago. Since then, Facebook has changed a lot but its main goal stayed the same to connect people online and make money from ads.

Ways Facebook has changed the world:

1. Changing Social Media

Before Facebook, there were other social networks like MySpace. But Facebook, launched in 2004, quickly became more popular. In less than a year, it had a million users, and in four years, it beat MySpace. 

Features like tagging friends in photos made it popular, especially among young people. Despite a small drop in users in late 2021, Facebook kept growing, reaching 2.11 billion daily users by 2023.

2. Making Personal Data Valuable

Facebook showed how collecting data about users' likes and dislikes could make a lot of money. Its parent company, Meta, became a huge advertising company, making billions from targeted ads. But Facebook also got in trouble for mishandling personal data, like with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This showed the downside of collecting too much data.

3. Influencing Politics

Facebook became a big platform for political ads, like during the 2020 US election when Donald Trump's team spent millions on Facebook ads. It also played a role in movements like the Arab Spring. But it has been criticized for things like not stopping violence in Myanmar. So, while it's powerful for politics, it also has its problems.

4. Pioneering Meta's Dominance

Facebook's big success led to Meta, its parent company, becoming one of the biggest tech companies. Meta bought companies like WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus and in 2021, it changed its name from Facebook to Meta. But Meta has faced criticism for copying competitors and for antitrust concerns.

As Facebook enters its third decade, it's looking beyond just social networking. Meta is focusing on things like the Metaverse and artificial intelligence. While Facebook's future is uncertain, its impact on the world is undeniable.


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