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The History Of Social Media

A Brief History of Social Media

In today’s digital age, social media is an increasingly important part of our daily lives. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication. Before social media, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand in the morning and buy a local edition reporting the events of the past week. Today, we get all the latest news and breaking stories about Covid-19 or Elon Musk’s recent activities online. The last thing many people do before they go to sleep is scroll through their feeds and is probably the first thing before they rise out of covers. In the 2000s, we fancied mp3 players or SEGA games, now we‘re weighing in on blogging throughout MySpace, Twitter, Pinterest etc.

The History of Social Media
The History of Social Media

The media creates awareness and innovates the way people live. It was originally developed as a tool for interaction among people but as it grew, users began to adequately navigate within television propaganda, falsehoods, or political corruption. People are now able to launch an environmental protest and reach millions of like-minded individuals online; a powered word on Twitter can blow, save the world, or at least begin the global environmental strike. 

This article aims to describe the timeline of the most important social media platforms and the stories behind their development. It is rather an outline of a history of one single element of each social media platform, namely the textual and interactive media environment. It also gives you a brief definition of social media and some pieces of advice to use it healthier.

What is social media in simple words?

Social media is a computer-based platform to facilitate sharing our thoughts, ideas, and information to communicate with other people.

Social media is usually based on user-generated content and they give people the chance to get to know each other better.

It’s not only a book with one author. It’s created to challenge authority.

What was the original purpose of social media?

As Aristotle, the Greek philosopher has claimed, man is a social animal. He needs to interact with other humans to satisfy his needs. 

Although man and his lifestyle have changed, some things never change. Interaction with other people is one of those never-changing needs. 

Interaction has so many forms and as technology is being developed, ways of being social evolve. For instance, smartphones made it easy to use and carry. After the cellphones become common, social media gets even more popular among people. Now you can socialize wherever you are.

History of social media: How did social media begin?

Like any other phenomenon, social media began somewhere, too. Here are some details about the beginning of social media.

When did social media first start?

Based on our definition of social media, the first one was created in 1997.

However, there was something called the PLATO system which was created in 1973 at the University of Illinois. It was supposed to help students chat and share notes and screens online. But since it doesn’t meet some of our criteria for being a social media, we don’t consider it as the first social media.

So, what was the first social media?

Six degrees was the first online social media. The name points to the “six degrees of separation” theory, which claims that “everyone in the world is connected to everyone else by no more than six degrees of separation”.

It was the first website that enabled users to have a profile. Profile resembles the user’s identity and lets them live it. Before that, imagining having a virtual character was a little harder than now. 

Who first invented social media?

It depends on your definition of social media. Even when we’re talking about the internet era, we should choose a tart point. If we start it with our casual definition of social media, the answer is Andrew Weinreich, the founder of Six Degrees in 1997. But some may point at Usenet which was created in 1979 at the University of North Carolina. Keep in mind that this one was created before the World Wide Web and it was just a local network.

Timeline of social media

To have a better understanding of the history of social media, here’s a timeline of social media. There have been so many players in this game, but we’re going to mention the most important ones.

  • 1973: Talkomatic is created by Dave Wooly and Douglas Brown at the University of Illinois. It was a multi-user chat room with limited features. 
  • 1997: Andrew Weinreich created
  • 1997:  Barry Appelman, Eric Bosco, and Jerry Harris created AOL instant messenger.
  • 1999: Jerry Yang and David Filo established Yahoo! Messenger.
  • 1999: Microsoft creates MSN Messenger to offer new features like video calling.
  • 1999: Brad Fitzpatrick created LiveJournal; a platform for blogging.
  • 2001: shuts down.
  • 2001: Windows Messenger, the integrated version of MSN Messenger is out.
  • 2002: Friendster is born; a place for gaming and social networking. it’s a brainchild of Jonathan Abrams. 
  • 2003: Reid Hoffman and some of his coworkers introduce LinkedIn.
  • 2003: Thomas Anderson founds Myspace.
  • 2003: Niklas Zennström and the Dane create Janus Friis Skype.
  • 2004: Mark Zuckerberg starts the legendary Facebook. 
  • 2005: Aaron Swartz introduces Reddit. 
  • 2006: Twitter is out. Jack Dorsey founds this platform.
  • 2006: Pavel Durov founds VK (VKontakte).
  • 2010: Ben Silbermann establishes Pinterest.
  • 2010: Kevin Systrom introduces Instagram; one of the most popular photo-sharing platforms ever is launched.
  • 2011: Evan Spiegel founds Snapchat.
  • 2011: Google executive Bradley Horowitz introduces Google plus.
  • 2011: Justin Kan introduces Twitch, a live-streaming platform for gamers.
  • 2012: Sean Rad launches Tinder, one of the most favorite dating apps ever.
  • 2012: Instagram is owned by Facebook for 1 billion dollars in cash and stock.
  • 2013: Larry Page and Sergey Brin who invented Google, invent Google Hangouts, too.
  • 2014: Amazon acquires the live-streaming service for gamers, Twitch.
  • 2014: Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang invent a lip-syncing app called
  • 2015: Friendster ceases to exist.
  • 2015: Discord starts.
  • 2016: Yahoo! stops on Windows, Linux, and Mac. 
  • 2017: ByteDance owns for 1 billion dollars.
  • 2017: a platform for short video sharing called TikTok is out.
  • 2018: Yahoo! Shuts down completely.
  • 2019: Google plus shuts down.

The story of some social network creation

After knowing the timeline of social media history, let’s have a closer look to see what really happened at some of those points; the most important ones.

History of Facebook
History of Facebook


New social media always appears every year with more interesting things that can be offered to Internet users. Forty years ago, no one knew that Ward Christensen’s bulletin board system, created for file exchange purposes, will lay the foundation for the global virtual community rush. Now, dialing up to use the Internet seems a thing of the past. When a Harvard sophomore realized he wanted to pull something that great off, he started with what seemed to be necessarily integrated in studying. At the time, with the exception of Google and Wikipedia, college students did not have conventional ways to draw information from or optimize knowledge acquisition. What they lacked was a learning tool to simplify the process with.

The first wasn’t the best

Like many students, Mark did not spend much time studying Arts or English literature. Instead, he has been implementing his good old passion, which is programming. It was CourseMatch, the first brainchild of Zuckerberg that eased the learning process of human sciences, the favorite subject of all programmers (no). The service’s purpose was to navigate students through studies and get to know their classmates. CourseMatch also featured an art piece randomizer; it allowed students to fill in the gaps a corresponding description and hence prepare better for the exams; it did improve students’ overall academic performance and won Mark honorable mention. 

CourseMatch was a starting point in Zuckerberg’s historic voyage. What came next was a prank thing called Facemash, on which users compared photos of their colleague students. The thing totally blew off the campus and aroused an outcry from many youngsters which eventually led to the game’s shutdown. It bore little comparison to the draft social network we use today.

The turning point was the day when Winklevoss brothers reached out Mark to cooperate for the mutual purpose of implementing a university network startup. What young people needed was a real-time connection; the concept was to bring on the Internet what it lacked – Social media. And so it happened – Mark was given a basic code for the future website, left unfinished by the previous techie. What happened next was a total blow-off for both parties and a tipping point in their future.

The biggest media platform
The biggest media platform


Compared to its predecessors, SixDegrees and Friendster let their users create profiles and list of friends, Facebook had much more perks. The Wall feature allowed users to post public messages, while News Feed offered frequently updated content. However, these have provoked then modest Facebookers, unwilling to share their private data, to unite in protest. The reason for that is once Microsoft purchased a 1.6% share for Facebook, they launched an ad program, called Beacon, to track user’s activity on the web. Beacon collected user’s behavior data to adjust Facebook’s advertising content but turned into a public relations disaster because of user privacy concerns. 

Nevertheless, Facebook retained its position throughout the journey and was continuously transformed and buffed by expert coders. In 2009, Facebook introduced the iconic Like button and acquired a social sharing site called FriendFeed. According to sources, a Like button and real-time news feed were acquired with many other company’s concepts. In 2011, Zuckerberg substitutes “The Wall” with the new feature Timeline, which reorganizes the chronological order of wall posts. In 2012, the company purchased Instagram for $1 billion. 

Twitter Evolution
Twitter Evolution


But the social media story extends well beyond Facebook. Despite the hype surrounding the service today, Twitter first emerged as a podcasting platform and was met with silent indifference. A microblogging service debuted in March of 2006, founded by Evan Williams and Noah Glass. First named Odeo, the company wanted to initiate a new radio and subdue the Silicon Valley, similar to what happened with Evan’s previous startup, Blogger.

Unfortunately, in 2006 Apple announced podcasting for iTunes, killing Odeo’’s chances for success.

And then, the main idea emerges

Evan Williams recharges his team for the entire new venture. One of the prominent employees, Jack Dorsey, introduces his idea of what the project would look like. Noah Glass was thrilled with the concept and spent the whole day looking through dictionaries for the word describing a light chirping sound or flutter. In March, Dorsey launches an early version of Twitter and sends the first tweet. The year after, Twitter wins “best startup” by Southwest, becomes its own company and receives a valuation of $20 million.

In 2016, Twitter acquired Vine for $30 million. The platform was a short video hosting service where users shared six-second-long video clips. In 2013, Instagram occupies the platform’s leading place with its 15-seconds-video clip. Vine failed to meet competition and thus was shut down in 2016. 

Despite numerous confrontations among team leaders and the dismissal of one of its spiritual leaders, Noah Glass, Twitter remains a leading microblogging platform. It connects people to the opinions and news around the world. 

Instagram History
Instagram History


The history of the modern cave wall started in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Before its original concept which is photo and video-sharing, the Instagram prototype called Brbn allowed users to check-in and share photos. But statistics showed that people were just using the app to share their everyday life photos. This was the time when creators canceled Brbn and launched Instagram in 2010.

Today, Instagram is the largest-growing social-media platform. It was a success right from the beginning with over 25000 users showing up on the first day! With the help of avid users, Instagram soon became the number one photo-sharing app gathering 100,000 users in one week, increasing to 1 million in two months. The first Instagram photo ever uploaded was the picture of Kevin Systrom’s dog. 

With Instagram’s huge success, Zuckerberg made an offer to acquire it for $1 billion in cash and stock, with the company’s independence provided.

Now Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users. It is indeed one of the most popular social networks worldwide. The compelling factor of the app is that it allows to take ordinary photos and make them unique using face retouching, filters, and associated apps. Instagram is about a simple and handy interface, tons of photos and videos without heavy captions or ads. It connects with a diverse audience, creates communities, inspires and helps those who inspire to profit from their creative activity.

Social media and its impact on people

The impact of social media applications has triggered a discussion of the “new communication democracy”. It is a tech breakthrough that has wrought fundamental change throughout society. Social networking enables individuals to create and share content, build long-lasting relationships and far-reaching communications and even escape reality. Today, we can send data from one end of the world to the other in a matter of seconds, use pictures, video, and text to share our real lives, our genuine identity. The rise of the media has made personal stories go public; local issues become global. It has definitely brought benefits in diversifying the flow of information in our life, and new technologies are continuing to gain ground every day, transforming our communication practices and possibilities. 

Some facts that you might didn’t know about social media

  • The average time a user spends on social media per day is 2 hours and 24 minutes. 
  • The number of apps that social media users check averagely reaches up to 8, including social networks and messaging apps.
  • 4.57 billion people around the world use the internet; mostly for using social media (3.5 billion people).
  • The word most used social platforms are Facebook YouTube WhatsApp Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Instagram.
  • 73% of marketers believe social media is effective in their business.
  • 54% of internet users search social media to find their favorite products. 
  • 49% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendations to buy from a brand.
  • In 2019, the number of active stories and Instagram reached 500 million. 
  • 91% of social media users access the social channels via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.


People need to interact and social media facilitates it. It gives you a wall to write your diaries on and share them with other people. You may not know it but by using this future you’re creating some user-generated content for that social media. It’s a win-win game. 

It looks good at the start but there are some worries about its negative impact on people especially its impact on young adults.

Social media is where you can show your life and you can see others’ lives. This is where the comparison begins. It usually makes people unhappy about their circumstances and it leads them to be depressed. So, it’s not a total win-win.

Social media is unavoidable, but we can control it as we can control our habits. We should keep using social media balanced and healthy. That’s the only way that we can compromise with technology.

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