Facebook (stylized as facebook) is a for-profit corporation and online social networking service based in Menlo Park, California, United States. The Facebook website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
The founders had initially limited the website's membership to Harvard students; however, later they expanded it to higher education institutions in the Boston area, the Ivy League schools, and Stanford University. Facebook gradually added support for students at various other universities, and eventually to high school students as well. Since 2006, anyone age 13 and older has been allowed to become a registered user of Facebook, though variations exist in the minimum age requirement, depending on applicable local laws. The Facebook name comes from the face book directories often given to United States university students.
Facebook, Inc. held its initial public offering (IPO) in February 2012, and began selling stock to the public three months later, reaching an original peak market capitalization of $104 billion. On July 13, 2015, Facebook became the fastest company in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to reach a market cap of $250 billion. Facebook has more than 1.65 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2016.
Facebook Notes was introduced on August 22, 2006, a blogging feature that allowed tags and embeddable images. Users were later able to import blogs from Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, and other blogging services.
Facebook Chat was added April 6, 2008. It is a Comet-based instant messaging application which allows users to communicate with other Facebook users in a way similar in functionality to instant messaging software.
A new Messaging platform, codenamed "Project Titan", was launched on November 15, 2010. Described as a "Gmail killer" by some publications, the system allows users to directly communicate with each other via Facebook using several different methods (including a special email address, text messaging, or through the Facebook website or mobile app)—no matter what method is used to deliver a message, they are contained within single threads in a unified inbox. As with other Facebook features, users can adjust from whom they can receive messages—including just friends, friends of friends, or from anyone. Email service was terminated in 2014 because of low uptake. Aside from the Facebook website, messages can also be accessed through the site's mobile apps, or a dedicated Facebook Messenger app.
In September 2014, Facebook announced that it delivers 1 billion video views per day and that it would begin showing everyone view counts on publicly posted videos from users, Pages, and public figures. It also confirmed that it is recommending additional videos to users after they have watched a video. Sixty-five percent of Facebook's video views are coming from mobile where Facebook's user base is shifting, and views grew 50 percent from May to July, in part thanks to the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge finding a home on Facebook
The format of individual user pages was revamped in late 2011 and became known as either a profile or personal timeline since that change. Users can create profiles with photos and images, lists of personal interests, contact information, memorable life events, and other personal information, such as employment status. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages, as well as a chat feature, and share content that includes website URLs, images, and video content. A 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study identified that between 20 and 30 percent of Facebook users are "power users" who frequently link, poke, post and tag themselves and others.
On September 6, 2006, News Feed was announced, which appears on every user's homepage and highlights information including profile changes, upcoming events, and birthdays of the user's friends. This enabled spammers and other users to manipulate these features by creating illegitimate events or posting fake birthdays to attract attention to their profile or cause. Initially, the News Feed caused dissatisfaction among Facebook users; some complained it was too cluttered and full of undesired information, others were concerned that it made it too easy for others to track individual activities (such as relationship status changes, events, and conversations with other users).One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums and photos. Facebook allows users to upload an unlimited number of photos, compared with other image hosting services such as Photobucket and Flickr, which apply limits to the number of photos that a user is allowed to upload. During the first years, Facebook users were limited to 60 photos per album. As of May 2009, this limit has been increased to 200 photos per album.
Privacy settings can be set for individual albums, limiting the groups of users that can see an album. For example, the privacy of an album can be set so that only the user's friends can see the album, while the privacy of another album can be set so that all Facebook users can see it. Another feature of the Photos application is the ability to "tag", or label, users in a photo. For instance, if a photo contains a user's friend, then the user can tag the friend in the photo. This sends a notification to the friend that they have been tagged, and provides them a link to see the photo.
The like button is a social networking feature, allowing users to express their appreciation of content such as status updates, comments, photos, and advertisements. It is also a social plug-in of the Facebook Platform – launched on April 21, 2010 – that enables participating Internet websites to display a similar like button.
The sheriff of Hampton, Virginia, US fired employees who liked the Facebook page of an adversary, and a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled that the US Constitution protects the rights of US citizens to like any Facebook page of their choosing. US Circuit Judge William Traxler likened the practice to displaying a "political sign in one's front yard." Additionally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a National Labor Relations Board decision which found that one employee's "liking" another employee's negative comments about their employer deserved protection under the National Labor Relations Act, alerting employers to proceed with caution when disciplining employees for Facebook activity.
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