Friendster, one of the earliest social networking sites, is launched in 2002. It allows users to create profiles with personal information and search for current and new friends. Its popularity declined after the launch of Facebook and MySpace, but found an international following in Asia, which now makes up 90% of the site's traffic.
MySpace is launched
Following the success of Friendster, MySpace.com is launched in August 2003 by Tom Anderson. MySpace allowed users more flexibility to customize their own home page including incorporating music or a blogging feature. The site quickly became extremely popular.
Facebook is launched
Facebook is launched by Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard university, and allows students with valid email addresses to create profiles, connect with friends, and list their classes. It was initially known as thefacebook.com
Image from http://facebookcraze.com/tag/old-facebook-layout/
First YouTube video is uploaded
YouTube allows users to upload, share, and stream video content for free. A little over a year later the site was purchased by Google for 1.65 billion dollars.
Twitter is launched
Twitter, which allows users to post short (140 character) messages to followers using either a website or SMS on their phone, is launched.
Facebook launches News Feed
The News Feed feature automatically aggregated users' changes to their profiles intoa centralized home page. It caused immediate backlash from users who felt that their privacy was being violated, the first of many similar controversies that have erupted after the site's layout changes. At this time, Facebook.com had approximately 8 million users (source)
Image from: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/09/10/fashion/10FACE_ready.html
Facebook becomes available to everyone
Before this, Facebook membership was limited to those with university or high school affiliations, or affiliations with companies such as Apple or Microsoft. This change allowed for wider adoption and growth of the site.
Google aquires YouTube
A bit over a year after its first video was uploaded, Google purchases YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock. By this time, YouTube was getting 100 million video views a day.
Twitter usage: 2007
Twitter averages 5,000 tweets per day
Microsoft purchases 1.6% share in Facebook
This purchase drastically increased the implied value of Facebook to 15 billion dollars. At the time of the purchase, Facebook had approximately $150 million in revenue and 50 million members, fewer than MySpace, but a more rapid rate of growth.
Twitter usage: 2008
Twitter averages 300,000 tweets per day
Facebook overtakes MySpace in site traffic
After years of being viewed as the largest social networking site, Facebook overcomes MySpace in page traffic for the first time in April of 2008. MySpace usership has continued to decline and the company recently laid off a large percentage of its work force.
Twitter usage: 2009
Twitter averages 2.5 million tweets per day
Facebook introduces Like button
This allows users to "like" their friends' status updates, photos, and posts.
Twitter usage: 2010
Twitter averages 35 million tweets per day
Facebook reaches 500 million users
Facebook continues its rapid growth, reaching 500 million users in 2010 (and has now reached 600 million active users). It has continued to expand internationally, competing with other social networking sites popular abroad, such as Orkut.