Facebook: a history

With the movie out, let’s take a look at the history of the popular social network known as Facebook.

It started in 2003 as “Facemash”. Mark Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Harvard University, along with his two roommates Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz, created the popular phenomenon. Facemash originally just showed yearbook pictures of female undergraduates at Harvard, asking users to rate their “hotness”. It soon reached other colleges and high schools, and then became available to anyone over the age of thirteen.

After facing punishment from Harvard for a breach of students’ privacy, Facemash was no longer accessible. But, as soon as the chargers were dropped in 2004, Zuckerberg created a new one that let everyone create a profile, and “The Facebook” was born. In 2005, it became just “Facebook” and over the next few years, amid many  changes and new features, became a popular webpage for everyone.

Facebook has over 500 million active users worldwide and is growing every day. However, not everyone approves of the network. some places, like Syria and Iran, have blocked Facebook on company computers and have even blocked the country’s access.

Why all the controversy over this popular site? Well, the privacy and policy settings are constantly being re-written. Although it allows people to stay connected with family and friends from all over the world, random and unknown individuals can still view your profile and add you as a friend. If you don’t have the proper privacy settings updated on your profile, then random individuals are able to search and view all of your private photos and personal information. Stalking and internet bullying has become a real issue for Facebook. To further complicate the situation, Facebook makes it incredibly hard for users to fully terminate the account. People may suspend the account from being viewed, but can’t get rid of it or its stored data.

Users have also been criticized for promoting controversial topics with groups, forums, and notorious conversation, and for posting disturbing pictures and comments. So next time you’re on Facebook, make sure your privacy settings are safe (see http://www.sophos.com/security/best-practice/facebook).

There are also people creating fake accounts and impersonating others for malicious reasons. Facebook is a way to connect, but it can create harmful situations—besides, do you want your boss seeing that embarrassing picture of you?

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