Facebook is a social networking website that connects people with friends, relatives and associates. It is comparable to services like Friendster and MySpace. Facebook’s core service is free and supported by advertisements. The site allows individuals to create profiles that include information about anything of interest to them. This topics can include personal hobbies, pictures, games or club and business affiliations. A user can also view another person’s profile or connect to a company’s profile page in order to stay in touch with them and receive notifications when there is new activity.
To participate on Facebook, users must first have an account. Signing up for an account is free, and they are available to anyone over the age of thirteen with an email address. Once the account is established, updates can be done whenever desired. Updates include adding or changing information, pictures, favorites and blog entries. Users can build networks of friends, associates and co-workers. They can browse other profiles based on criteria, such as name, age, relationship status, mutual interests or other specific filters.
On January 12, 2011, Facebook switched all profiles on the system to a new layout. While the option to move to the new layout had become available in December, users were allowed to retain the original profile style during the switch. The new layout removes the tabs along the top of a profile and replaces it with a link menu, which displays more personal information than the previous layout, including schools and employers. Additionally, a stream of the most recently tagged photos of the users appear above the Facebook wall on the profile.
Mark Zuckerberg founded the site from his dorm room at Harvard University in 2004. At first, it was only available for Harvard students, but it was opened up to other Ivy League colleges over the next two years. Later, a broader base of colleges were able to access the service. By September 2006, it was opened to the general public. In September of 2008, Facebook hit a record 39 million unique visitors in the United States, representing 116% growth over 2007. In May 2009, the offices of Facebook, located in Palo Alto, California, changed to a new building.