Facebook is a social
networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and
privately owned by Facebook, Inc. As of January 2012, Facebook has more than
800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after
which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and
exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their
profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by
workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their
friends into lists such as "People From Work" or "Close
Friends". The name of the service stems from the colloquial name for the
book given to students at the start of the academic year by some university
administrations in the United States to help students get to know each other.
Facebook allows any users who declare themselves to be at least 13 years old to
become registered users of the site.
Facebook was founded
by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow students Eduardo
Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The Web site's membership was
initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to
other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It
gradually added support for students at various other universities before
opening to high school students, and eventually to anyone aged 13 and over.
However, based on ConsumersReports.org in May 2011, there are 7.5 million
children under 13 with accounts, violating the site's terms of service.
A January 2009
Compete.com study ranked Facebook as the most used social networking service by
worldwide monthly active users. Entertainment Weekly included the site on its
end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying, "How on earth did we
stalk our exes, remember our co-workers' birthdays, bug our friends, and play a
rousing game of Scrabulous before Facebook?" Quantcast estimates Facebook
has 138.9 million monthly unique U.S. visitors in May 2011. According to Social
Media Today, in April 2010 an estimated 41.6% of the U.S. population had a
Facebook account. Nevertheless, Facebook's market growth started to stall in
some regions, with the site losing 7 million active users in the United States
and Canada in May 2011.
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