IT was established to share the secrets of Harvard’s finest minds.
Today, there’s nothing secret about Facebook, which has become part of the fabric of modern life.
One billion people have used Facebook in a single day for the first time in the site’s 11-year history, which appears to prove that humans really are compulsive communicators.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg hailed the figure as an “important milestone” for the site. In a post on his Facebook page, Mr Zuckerberg wrote: “On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family.
“When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”
He said Facebook had blazed a trail in connecting communities globally and he is “proud” of the company’s success.
He wrote: “Our community stands for giving every person a voice, for promoting understanding and for including everyone in the opportunities of our modern world.
“A more open and connected world is a better world. It brings stronger relationships with those you love, a stronger economy with more opportunities, and a stronger society that reflects all of our values.”
It’s all a far cry from the site’s modest origins. One evening in October 2003, Mr Zuckerberg, who was a 19-year-old Harvard student, decided to create a site that would act as a social network for his friends.
The site proved so popular it crashed the Harvard system. It was simple and addictive.
Four months later, Mr Zuckerberg launched Facebook. Within the first month, half of Harvard was using the site to share intimate details about their life online, and by December 2005 it had 5.5 million users around the world.
Mr Zuckerberg became the world’s youngest billionaire, and its growth even inspired a film, The Social Network.
Facebook has changed the way millions of people communicate and conduct business.
Tracey Johnson, the director of the Digital Media Centre, in Barnsley, said: “Facebook is driving considerable behaviour change in and out of business.
“It’s made massive investment to leverage income from advertising, and create a commercially viable business out of what began life as a social platform, while navigating many complex policy issues.
“Its wider investments and acquisitions show a keenness to continually evolve themselves. Hardware and software companies both large and small will continue to look to these market leaders and innovators to observe trends; but increasingly also as potential investors and buyers.
“For everyone else it remains the ubiquitous social network – which makes it the ideal place to build relationships and promote products and services.”
Emma Jones, of Enterprise Nation, which supports small businesses across Yorkshire, said: “Facebook has changed everything for all firms - but particularly those in the tech sector. Facebook reports that there are 35 million people in the UK using the platform, and almost 74 per cent of those are using Facebook to connect to at least one local business. There are now over 40 million business pages and two million active advertisers on Facebook globally.”
Steph Naylor of Barnsley-based Bigfoot Digital, said: “It’s not a boring, static marketing tool - it’s completely interactive.
“It’s a place where you can respond, engage and share with customers - once you connect with them they will keep on coming back.”