The world's largest social networking service
—Mark Zuckerberg, on users giving him personal information
Facebook, the world's largest social networking service, is one of the many popular tools by which people document every aspect of their lives ad nauseam, giving out copious amounts of personal data to be used for targeted advertising. It's an especially popular casual gaming platform, with applications such as Farmville quickly becoming more popular than traditional games.
Headquartered in the United States, Facebook is infamous for its cavalier attitude towards user privacy. The majority of scandals about Facebook involve the site changing its settings around without notification, exposing that private album of pictures that were just for you and your boyfriend to the entire the world, or suddenly revealing all your recent Amazon purchases to your friend lists.
Sites like youropenbook.org take advantage of the fact that many users are unaware of how much of their information is publicly posted by allowing you to search the updates of millions of users who have not changed their privacy settings.
Facebook has gotten big enough that its origins have been made into an Oscar-winning movie called The Social Network. As it's one of very few articles on this website to have its own movie, you really should probably see it.
But for those who prefer textual information over dramatized movies, Facebook was preceded by Facemash in October of 2003 when Mark Zuckerberg hacked some ID directories at Harvard to create a college version of Hot or Not. It was shut down by the Harvard administration and Zuckerberg was almost expelled. In February 2004 he launched "thefacebook.com", which was originally just for Harvard but eventually expanded to almost every other university, requiring a university email address to register.
Open the Floodgates
Limiting access to those with a college email was arguably one of the benefits of the old Facebook. In 2005, the site was opened to high schoolers as well. In September of 2006, Facebook finally opened to anyone above 13 years of age with an email address.
Facebook has replaced Myspace and Friendster as the default social networking site in many countries and has made Mark Zuckerberg into the world's youngest billionaire. Statuses tend to vary by age group, but teenagers tend to post "I just lost the remote.... fml", twenty somethings tend to post song lyrics and anyone older than that tends to post their location.
On forums and message boards, Facebook is seen as the Internet equivalent of Wal-mart, gobbling up small local cool sites with thriving communities and bastardizing memes and Image Macros by giving them to the masses who exchange them with poor spelling and ruin the joke somehow.
- In October 2010 it was reported that Facebook, along with Flickr and other social networking sites, are being monitored by the US Department of Homeland Security.
- Facebook won the 2008 Webby Award for "Best Social Networking"