Facebook marks 12 years since its birth in Harvard dormitory


Facebook marks its 12th birthday today, having grown from Harvard dormitory room hobby to a network of more than 1.5 billion people in just over a decade. 

Founder Mark Zuckerberg faced expulsion from the prestigious American university after he hacked into the Harvard computer network to access images used as part of the first version of the site - asking visitors to choose which of two people shown were more attractive.

Now, in the wake of the company's financial results announcement last week, Zuckerberg has moved past Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the fifth wealthiest person in the world, when shares in the social network spiked.

Revenue of more than £12 billion for the year was announced for a company that bought the domain for its website for 200,000 US dollars (£137,000) in 2005.

Since being established as a way of reconnecting with friends, and then posting photos and videos, Facebook now supports 360-degree video, is used as a resource for confirming safety to loved ones during disasters, and has become a technology and social hub following the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as virtual reality firm Oculus. 

 Zuckerberg has described Facebook's business as "thriving", and repeatedly mentioned a mission of "connecting the entire world". The social network has already co-founded Internet.org, an enterprise that is working on solar-powered drones that aim to beam internet signal to remote parts of the world currently lacking connection.

Technology expert and founder of Pocket-lint.com Stuart Miles said that this new technology, as well as the site's ability to tap into basic human needs are driving it forward.

"The company has gone from strength to strength and judging by recent performance shows no sign of stopping," he said.

"It's ability to tap into everyone's fear of missing out means that people are keen to log in over and over again. Until that addiction stops, Facebook will keep growing and growing."

 Zuckerberg recently announced that WhatsApp had surpassed one billion active users, with Facebook's own Messenger app also active for 800 million people. Photo-sharing app Instagram, bought by Facebook for one billion US dollars (£683m) in 2012, currently has around 400 million users.

All of which surpass fellow social media giant Twitter, which has around 320 million users, and in stark contrast to Facebook, is struggling to grow.