Facebook, Inc. is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. Its 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 initially limited the website's membership to Harvard students and subsequently Columbia, Stanford and Yale students. Membership was eventually expanded to the remaining Ivy League schools, MIT, and higher education institutions in the Boston area. Facebook gradually added support for students at various other universities, and eventually to high school students. Since 2006, anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old has been allowed to become a registered user of Facebook, though variations exist in this requirement, depending on local laws.
Facebook can be accessed from a large range of devices with Internet connectivity, such as desktop computers, laptops and tablet computers, and smartphones. After registering, users can create a customized profile indicating their name, occupation, schools attended and so on. Users can add other users as "friends", exchange messages, post status updates, share photos, videos and links, use various software applications ("apps"), and receive notifications of other users' activity. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups organized by workplace, school, hobbies or other topics, and categorize their friends into lists such as "People From Work" or "Close Friends". Additionally, users can report or block unpleasant people.
A "face book" is a student directory featuring photos and basic information. In 2003, there were no universal online facebooks at Harvard, with only paper sheets distributed and private online directories. Zuckerberg told the Crimson that "Everyone's been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. ... I think it's kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.Six days after the site launched, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com. They claimed that he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.
Facebook's key management personnel consists of Mark Zuckerberg (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer), Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer), David Wehner (Chief Financial Officer), Mike Schroepfer (Chief Technology Officer), and Chris Cox (Chief Product Officer). As of June 30, 2017, Facebook has 20,658 employees.Facebook ranked No. 76 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. Most of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising.The cause of Facebook's low CTR has been attributed to younger users enabling ad blocking software and their adeptness at ignoring advertising messages, as well as the site's primary purpose being social communication rather than content viewing. According to digital consultancy iStrategy Labs in mid-January 2014, three million fewer users aged between 13 and 17 years were present on Facebook's Social Advertising platform compared to 2011.
A portion of Facebook revenue comes from the "firehose" access, bulk access to the social media data sold to the third parties. In December 2014, a report from Frank N. Magid and Associates found that the percentage of teens aged 13 to 17 who used Facebook fell to 88% in 2014, down from 94% in 2013 and 95% in 2012.The company released its own set of revenue data at the end of January 2014 and claimed: Revenues of US$2.59 billion were generated for the three months ending December 31, 2013; earnings per share were 31 cents; revenues of US$7.87 billion were made for the entirety of 2013; and Facebook's annual profit for 2013 was US$1.5 billion. During the same time, independent market research firm eMarketer released data in which Facebook accounted for 5.7 per cent of all global digital ad revenues in 2013 (Google's share was 32.4 per cent).
n July 20, 2008, Facebook introduced "Facebook Beta", a significant redesign of its user interface on selected networks. The Mini-Feed and Wall were consolidated, profiles were separated into tabbed sections, and an effort was made to create a cleaner look. After initially giving users a choice to switch, Facebook began migrating all users to the new version starting in September 2008. On December 11, 2008, it was announced that Facebook was testing a simpler signup process.
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.On February 23, 2010, Facebook was granted a patenton certain aspects of its News Feed. The patent covers News Feeds in which links are provided so that one user can participate in the same activity of another user.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 she has been tagged, and provides a link to see the photo.
Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile. The website is free to its users and generates revenue from advertising, such as banner ads. Facebook requires a user's name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. Users can control who sees other information they have shared, as well as who can find them in searches, through their privacy settings.In April 2018, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, and refuting a report to the contrary by Reuters, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would implement additional privacy "controls and settings" worldwide. These settings were originally intended for deployment in Europe in order to comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in May.On September 28, 2018, Facebook saw a drop in its share price by 3% due to a major breach in its security, exposing the data of 50 million users. The data breach started July 2017 created by a change to a Facebook video uploading feature, but wasn't discovered until September 16, 2018. The attackers are said to have exploited a vulnerability in the "view as" profile feature to gain illegal access to users' accounts.