Free Book Summary - The Facebook Effect

Posted on 1/4/2020, 7:12:53 AM

Facebook made a major impact on the world of social media. 

And, it’s not just a platform for people to communicate, it’s a business success story.

It has changed how we interact and share with people throughout the world. 

“Facebook also has a fundamental characteristic that has proven key to its appeal in country after country—you only see friends there.”- David Kirkpatrick 

In the book, “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick, you will learn how Facebook created technological change and how it affects you.

Key Points:

  • Before Facebook

Before Facebook, there were other social media sites including WELL, AOL, and Friendster. 

The concept of social media started in 1985. But, the design was a little different. You could chat with people in the community via threads, online bulletin boards, and chat rooms. 

Social media began developing fast because of the new technology creators were experimenting with. This led to users being able to create unique profiles for themselves and groups that could remain private and exclusive. 

Classmates.com was a popular site that was similar to Facebook which allowed you to find people you went to school with. 

Old-school social media was really more of a virtual community. Social media is defined as an online platform that allows you to create a profile, establish a friend’s list, and make new connections. 

And, by using this definition, Sixdegrees.com was the first social media site to come about. Sixdegrees.com worked by connecting people based on people on their friend’s lists as well as their interests. It allowed you to search for someone on the search bar, which was something new to the scene at the time.

In 2002, the social media platform Friendster launched and it was the first site that allowed you to add a profile picture. 

Many sites followed suit including Myspace, LinkedIn, and Spoke. 

But, even though the market was full of competition, Facebook became a success almost instantly.

  • The Origins of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg always was a lover of creating and developing. In early 2004, he started a project in his Harvard college dorm called “Thefacebook.” It was named after college “face books” which was essentially a list of all students with a picture and their class listed as well. At first, this project was private to Harvard students. But, Zuckerberg had ideas for its expansion.

Thefacebook went live on February 4th, 2004. In the first four days, 650 Harvard students joined the site. And, in only three weeks 6,000 students had profiles on the site. 

The site expanded to 34 schools and by May it had over 100,000 users. Even Mark Zuckerberg didn’t expect that type of success. 

In June 2004, Zuckerberg was approached and offered a whopping 10 million for the site, but Zuckerberg refused and wanted to take his site farther. 

In September 2005, “Thefacebook” became “Facebook.” This was advice that was given personally to Zuckerberg by Sean Parker, the owner of Napster.

Shortly after the name change, the site became international and spread to schools worldwide. 

The following year, Facebook became open to non-students as well. 

“In mid-2008 the word Facebook passed sex in frequency as a search term on Google worldwide.”- David Kirkpatrick

Now, Facebook is the second most popular site in the world, right behind Google. 

  • How Facebook Beat Their Competition

One of the reasons that Facebook became so popular in such a short amount of time was simply timing. Timing is everything. 

During the beginnings of Myspace and Facebook, the internet was getting faster, so being online was much less of a hassle than it had been in the past. The faster speeds also helped with uploading photos and sharing content.

The timing was also right because of schools desiring to create online networks to stay relevant and embrace technology.

Zuckerberg was not only at the right time but also in the right place. He was a Harvard student and had access to thousands of brilliant brains which made it easy for him to create his dream-team.

One of Facebook’s co-founders was Chris Hughes, who later went on to work diligently on the Barack Obama campaign of 2008.

“Revenues were, according to well-informed sources, more than $550 million for 2009—up from less than $300 million in 2008. That represents a stunning growth rate of almost 100 percent. The same sources say that the company could exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2010.” - David Kirkpatrick 

The idea of social networking online was easily embraced by the college community because at that age socializing is something humans crave. 

  • Facebook Believes In Always Evolving 

Going back to 2005, Facebook users enjoyed the ability to have a profile picture. But, Zuckerberg and his team noticed they were often changing their pictures several times throughout the day as there was only one space for a picture.

That is why Facebook evolved. Zuckerberg and his team made it possible to have multiple pictures on a user’s profile via a photo-hosting service. They also developed a tag feature that allowed users to search for photos of a specific person. This made Facebook one of the most popular photo services on the internet. 

In 2006, Facebook further evolved by adding a newsfeed. The newsfeed allowed users to see updates from their friends. 

And in 2007, Facebook went live with the Facebook Platform to serve third-party developers who wanted to develop apps for Facebook.

One of the most trending apps is Facebook Marketplace, which allows people to sell, trade, and buy from their Facebook profiles. 

In 2009, the ‘like’ button was created. This allowed users to ‘like’ links, photos, and comments. 

  • Zuckerberg Had Famous Mentors

Zuckerberg was a great networker both on and offline. 

A lot of his friends and colleagues were skeptical about Facebook when he first presented the idea to him. But, with his charm and persistence, eventually many of them were involved in the beginning stages of the project. 

The chief financial officer was Eduardo Saverin, the Vice President was Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes was the spokesperson, and Andrew McCollum created the logo. Zuckerberg also had friends from prep school who he recruited during the early stages of Facebook, including Adam D’Angelo who was the first chief technology officer.

Zuckerberg was also smart to ask the advice of top-dog entrepreneurs including Sean Parker of Napster, Marc Andreesen co-founder of Netscape, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. 

  • Facebook’s Role In Politics

Facebook has definitely had a huge role in the way we discuss politics. And that’s because it connects 500 million people around the world who have different views of the political world.

Activism has become much easier and more accessible through Facebook. It is easy to share an opinion, create fundraisers and groups, and share articles regarding politics. It is easier than ever to stay updated!

For example, in 2008 in South Africa a group was formed via Facebook to protest hostile drug raids that were happening. In a matter of days, 3,000 members belonged to the group and photos and video encounters were posted for viewing. This increased awareness of the issue as well as helped to develop a petition. Eventually, because of the active talk of the issue, the police stepped in to address the raids. 

Elections have also been impacted by the power of Facebook. President Obama used social media to his advantage during his campaign against his opponent Hillary Clinton. He shared political views as well as personal tastes such as music in order to appeal to a younger crowd of voters. 

  • Facebook Has Changed How We Communicate

Facebook has become the go-to to contact friends, family, and strangers. And that’s because it’s quick and efficient and less time consuming than an email.

Instead of sending a mass email to friends and family to share how you’re doing, you can simply post a status for everyone on your friend’s list to see. We can also check up on our friends easily by simply clicking on their profile or sending them a message if they’re online. 

Facebook closes the gap between cities and small towns, strangers, and distance. It is easy to connect with anyone around the world. 

  • Facebook Is Creating Journalists

Many Facebook posts go viral if the content is good and shared at the right time. 

Unlike traditionally publishing, Facebook allows you to be your own writer and editor and report on anything you’d like. You can share your own work or the works of others to get “likes” and additional shares. 

Citizen journalism is on an uprise with people posting raw material on Facebook from crime scenes, devastations, protests, etc. There are even times when large new sources get leaks from citizens via Facebook before their team has been given the information to cover it. 

Facebook is a financial threat to traditional media because it is stealing advertisements that used to be posted on TV, billboards, or in newspapers. Now, companies want to see their ads on Facebook newsfeeds. Facebook ad sales tripled between the years of 2008 and 2009. 

But, instead of fighting it, traditional media is trying to work with Facebook in order to stay alive. 

One example of this is CNN teaming up with Facebook for a live messaging session during Obama’s inauguration. 

  • Facebook Has Changed Our Ideas About Privacy

The creation of Facebook has led people to be more open about their personal lives than ever before. Things that you would never share with your boss or your great-aunt are all of a sudden being revealed without thought.

Separating your personal life from your professional life on Facebook can sometimes be a challenge. You may not want your co-workers to know that you are actively dating and enjoy binge-drinking on the weekends, but with Facebook, you have one profile to display yourself to the world so it’s hard to hide those parts of yourself.

Even if you are careful about what you post on Facebook, you don’t have control over your friends tagging you in an embarrassing picture that may ruin your image. 

Zuckerberg and his team have however created privacy settings that will help in certain situations including having to approve friend’s posts on your timeline. 

The Main Take-Away:

Facebook is a business success story. The global platform evolved quickly to create a place for people to interact, stay active in social issues and politics, and change the way media is presented to the world. 

About the Author

David Kirkpatrick is a technology journalist, author, and organizer of technology oriented conferences. He is the author of The Facebook Effect, which chronicles the history of the company and elaborates on its global impact. He was formerly the Senior Editor of Internet and Technology at Fortune Magazine. He is the founder and CEO of Techonomy Media, Inc, a tech focused conference company. He graduated from Amherst Collect in 1975 with a degree in English and studied painting at the New York Studio for Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture for two years. He started his career at Time Inc as a copy clerk while working as a video artist. He has written profiles about legendary entrepreneurs such as Jack Dorsey for Vanity Fair. He writes articles about technology and society for Forbes magazines. He is known as one of the top technology journalists. Since 2006, he has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s International Media Council, which consists of 100 global media leaders. In 2006, after meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, David started writing about Facebook. Zuckerberg assisted him with his efforts. He left his job at Fortune to finish his book about Facebook. His book was on the New York times best selling list. 

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