This expansive timeline chronicles the birth and evolution of Facebook, from its beginnings as a Harvard social directory to the sprawling technology behemoth now known as Meta.

Tracing key events and milestones, "Timeline of Facebook" provides an illuminating overview of the platform’s history and emergence as today’s dominant social media force with nearly three billion monthly users.

From Facemash to Metaverse, this living document encapsulates Facebook’s remarkable transformation over the past two decades into one of the world's most influential companies.

THE EARLY YEARS (2003-2008)

Facebook early years
© History Oasis

2003 — Facemash

In October 2003, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates a Hot-or-Not style website called Facemash that lets students rate the attractiveness of their classmates.

The site gets over 22,000 votes in 2 days before being shut down by Harvard admins for breaching privacy and security policies.

2004  — TheFaceBook.com

In January 2004, Zuckerberg starts working on a new social networking site for Harvard students called TheFaceBook.com with classmates Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.

In February 2004, thefacebook.com officially launches to Harvard students. Within a month, over half of Harvard undergrads have registered.

Over the next few months, thefacebook expands to allow students from Stanford, Columbia, Yale and other Boston-area colleges to join.

In June 2004, Zuckerberg and cofounders move to Palo Alto, CA for the summer to work full-time on thefacebook.

In September 2004, the Wall feature is added allowing friends to post messages.

This helps drive user engagement.  

By December 2004, thefacebook reaches 1 million active users across hundreds of college campuses. But it still trails rival Myspace in users.

2005 — Facebook Expansion

In March 2005, high school networks are allowed to join thefacebook.

In June 2005, the company officially changes its name to Facebook.

By September 2005, Facebook allows membership eligibility for employees of companies like Apple and Microsoft.  

In October 2005, photo uploads are opened up to unlimited storage, helping drive user growth.

By December 2005, Facebook reaches 6 million active users.

2006 — News Feed

In September 2006, the News Feed feature is launched, sparking initial privacy concerns.

Later in September 2006, Facebook membership is opened up to anyone aged 13 and older with a valid email address.  

In 2006, major companies like Coca-Cola and P&G start advertising campaigns on Facebook as a way to engage consumers.

2007 — #1 Social Media Site

In November 2007, Facebook launches Pages allowing businesses and brands to establish profiles.

By 2007, Facebook passes MySpace as the #1 social media site in terms of traffic.

2008 — Sheryl Sandberg

In March 2008, Facebook hires Sheryl Sandberg as COO to help develop stronger monetization and business strategies.

Over the course of 2008, Facebook rolls out new features like live feed and chat to compete with sites like Twitter gaining traction.  

GROWTH & EXPANSION (2009-2014)  

Facebook emerging
© History Oasis

2009 — Cash Flow Positive

In 2009, Facebook opens up its platform to allow third-party developers to create games and applications to run within Facebook.
This helps drive further user engagement and growth.  

By September 2009, Facebook claims it has reached cash flow positive status for the first time based on its advertising model and revenue growth.

2010 — The Social Network

In 2010, Facebook's membership base surpasses 500 million monthly active users globally.

The movie "The Social Network" is released in 2010, dramatizing Facebook's founding and early history at Harvard. The film receives critical acclaim.  

2012 — IPO

In 2012, Facebook holds its highly anticipated IPO, offering shares to the public market. The IPO raises $16 billion valuing Facebook at over $100 billion.

Later in 2012, Facebook acquires popular photo sharing app Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.

This acquisition aims to boost Facebook's mobile capabilities.

2013 — 1 Billion Users

In 2013, Facebook surpasses 1 billion monthly active users globally. This underscores its position as the world's largest social media platform.

Facebook debuts Graph Search in 2013, allowing users to search for content and connections in new ways using filters.

2014 — WhatsApp

In February 2014, Facebook announces the acquisition of mobile messaging app WhatsApp in a $19 billion deal.

Over the course of 2014, Facebook heavily invests in expanding video capabilities allowing users to share and engage with video content.


Facebook in the modern day with VR
© History Oasis

2015 — New Features

In January 2015, Facebook launches Facebook at Work – a separate communications platform for businesses/enterprises to connect employees.
In February 2015, Facebook expands the Like button by introducing a range of Reactions including Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry to tap into more emotional responses.

By December 2015, monthly active users on Facebook have grown to over 1.5 billion worldwide.

2018 — Cambridge Analytica

In March 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal breaks, alleging that data on 87 million Facebook users was improperly harvested to target political advertising.

This sparks public outrage and government hearings over Facebook's privacy policies.

2021 — Meta

In October 2021, Facebook announces it is changing the name of its parent company to Meta Platforms Inc. The rebranding signals CEO Mark Zuckerberg's future focus on the "metaverse" concept for virtual/augmented reality.

As of 2021, Facebook's global user base grows to nearly 3 billion monthly active users and about 2 billion daily active users.

This cements its position as the world's largest social media platform.