Facebook, as it was originally called, is a social networking site founded on 4 February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, then 23-year-old Harvard University student, with the assistance of his college roommates and fellow student Eduardo Saverin. Within a brief period of time, a month to be exact, more than half of Harvard’s population had a Facebook page. It began as a desktop website program, but in 2007, Facebook revealed on its blog that it had made the website accessible via cell phone available: m.facebook.com. It provided users with “services accessible to any Facebook user with a phone.” This was website that let users use Facebook on a website adapted for small screens, send and receive Facebook messages, upload photos, among other functionalities. On 29th June 2007, the world’s first iPhone, an invention by Steve Jobs, was released. Only two months after this, in August of the same year, Facebook launched a mobile website: iphone.facebook.com. This would allow iPhone users to use the site, which had been modified to suit the large touchscreen. The iPhone that had EDGE support for data transfer and a 2-megapixels rear camera enabled its users to utilize those functionalities to take photos with the phone and post them on Facebook (Yung, Alan, 45-60). This greatly increased the popularity of Facebook and to add on to that, the design of the iPhone encouraged other smartphone brands to follow suit, and with their entry into the market, meant the widespread acceptance of Facebook. This prompted Facebook to rename the iPhone website to x.facebook.com. The luck behind this cannot be assumed. Zuckerberg has a lot to thank Steve Jobs for, for was it not for Job’s invention that had been anticipated by a large number of people and was met with acceptance, Facebook would be nowhere close to its current position. The iPhone craze ensured that a large number of people accessed Facebook and lay the foundation for other smartphones to spread Facebook’s popularity further.
The Role of Technology in Facebook’s Popularity
In an article in The Harvard Crimson where Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that the inspiration to create Facebook was drawn from his previous Facemash application, he claimed, “It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized website is readily available…the benefits are many.” This clearly shows the acknowledgement from Zuckerberg on the major role that technology played in his favor, to fuel the creation and spread of his invention. It is the likes of Kirkland House online mailing list, a technology that enabled the exposure of Facebook to a large number of the Harvard students, from where Facebook took root. The breakthrough of smartphones into the global market within such a short time span surely served as a blessing to Zuckerberg. It meant that Facebook was now accessed by a vast number of people. Microsoft, a company that created one of the operating systems that computers achieve their functionality, Windows, was increasing in popularity during the infant stage of Facebook, and it provided the platform which Facebook would run on before the smartphones had taken root. It is in this regard that a large number of the Apple Inc. (manufacturer of the iPhone) and Microsoft staff also joined the Facebook network. The coming up of the email system, another technology which Zuckerberg certainly hadn’t thought that it would ever come in handy, offered a simple but relatively unique system of logging in of Facebook users into their accounts. The spread of technology like television sets offered an advertising platform for Facebook, to increase its popularity. The coming up of electronic devices like iPads and laptops only served to provided more platforms for Facebook to ensure a firm grip on the global market (Rupak et al., 6-30). Of all these technologies, Mark Zuckerberg had no part to play in their success, but he’s surely reaping the fruits. He has a lot to thank Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, for his successful invention that ensured that Zuckerberg’s invention was also a success. Zuckerberg must consider himself a lucky guy.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook Court Case
On September 2004, the identical twin brothers and rowing partners, Cameron Howard Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, together with their Harvard classmate Divya Narendra, co-founders of HarvardConnection (later renamed ConnectU), sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. They accused him of allegedly stealing the idea of ConnectU to bring about the renowned social networking site Facebook. They accused Zuckerberg of copying their ideas and later coding an application from them. Zuckerberg had worked as a computer programmer for them during their time at Harvard. A 2008-ruling had settled the dispute by making Zuckerberg and the Winklevosses to strike a deal that would see to it that the brothers were compensated in monetary terms. However, in 2011, the Winklevosses filed another appeal claiming for a more bountiful compensation, as the Facebook idea was theirs in the first place, according to their claims. However, in the case involving three judges, the Chief Judge Alex Kozinsky stated,
The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seeks to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace… At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached (Facebook, Inc. v. Pacific Northwest Software, Inc., 640 F.3d 103 .,9th Cir. 2011).
Even though the twins claimed that they would be relentless and press forward with another appeal, clearly nothing was going their way. Zuckerberg had outsmarted them and was lucky to get away with it by parting with only around sixty-five million dollars, a figure that he wouldn’t have to stretch to his limits to reach, based on his financial status. He was lucky especially since the twins had no concrete evidence to bring forward and confirm that he had indeed copied from them. Surely, this would have dealt a huge blow on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, and he has his lucky stars to thank for such a close shave.
Facebook is a great invention by Mark Zuckerberg. It has been widely accepted and continues to expand its horizons with each passing day. However, the creation and evolution of Facebook have been favored by a lot of factors that hadn’t even been thought of in the first place; factors that seem like they conspired to make Facebook a popular invention. What started off as a simple joke, Facemash, if Mark Zuckerberg’s word is anything to go by, surely couldn’t have captured worldwide attention by its accord, no matter the skillset of the inventor. If there is any a situation I’d highlight as a hit-and-hope one, it is this one, involving a college student who with his programming skills and the motivation from his roommates, decided to come up with this application. And, where I’d put all my money on, is that he, Mark Zuckerberg, cannot fathom how he got this far and he should hope that luck doesn’t turn against him and push him down that path he swiftly ascended.
Yung, Alan. “Facebook Divide, Facebook Native and Facebook Immigrant.” (2017).
Wilcox, Ross. Pighead returns to earth. Diss. University of South Dakota, 2013.
Facebook, Inc. v. Pacific Northwest Software, Inc., 640 F.3d 1034 (9th Cir. 2011).
Rauniar, Rupak, et al. “Technology acceptance model (TAM) and social media usage: an empirical study on Facebook.” Journal of Enterprise Information Management 27.1 (2014): 6-30.