The History of Facebook: Part 3

In our previous post, The History of Facebook: Part 2, we continued our series on Facebook with the second part of a three part series on the history of the company.

In this post, we continue on with Part 3 – our third and final look at the history of Facebook.

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The History of Facebook: Part 3

The common thread in Facebook’s growth from 1 million users in 2004 to more than a billion in early 2013 is innovation. The 32 feature introductions and other notable events in this list demonstrate a commitment to improving the Facebook experience for its members. It also demonstrates a kind of clueless­ness about how some features will affect their users as well as a general push to make more and more of members’ data available to the public (more on this in a bit).

It’s clear from the following table, however, that, while market leader MySpace languished, Facebook’s innovation fueled staggering growth in numbers of users and revenue.

Table 8 — Facebook User and Revenue Growth



Revenue (millions)











August 26, 2008



April 8, 2009


September 15, 2009



February 5, 2010


July 21, 2010






These are very impressive results, you’ll have to agree. Facebook members must really love the site, right?

Wrong. And far from it. Facebook is the fourth most-hated companys, ranking in the bottom five percent of private companies, and jostling for position with companies from traditional hated industries such as airlines and cable companies.[1] We can speculate as to why, and there are probably many reasons, but we think two major reasons are Facebook’s tendency to make big changes without warning, without asking what their users want, and their steady erosion of their members’ privacy, making more and more of members’ information available to the public by default.

The difference between Facebook’s default privacy settings from 2005, the year after the site debuted, and now is remarkable. Whereas once almost everything was private by default, today almost everything is shared with the world by defaults, according to researcher Matt McKeon.[2]

Over the years, the only two personal details that have remained unexposed to the public Internet by default are your contact information and your birthday. Of course, Facebook enables you to change your privacy settings to prevent the sharing of this information, but doing so can be quite difficult. Facebook has finally gathered all its various privacy controls in one place, but it still can be a bit of a chore to change them all.[3] Be sure you check out these links at the bottom of the page: Applications and Websites and Controlling How You Share. It’s easy to overlook these, but they are very important.

Of course, if you are using Facebook for your enterprise, perhaps you’re not too concerned about privacy. But if you have volunteers or other supports using Facebook on your behalf, and community members connecting with you on Facebook, it’s good to know the facts. We cover setting your privacy settings in the upcoming post Control Your Privacy Settings.

Next up: Why Facebook?

The History of Facebook: Part 3 is the 119th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 323. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

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[1] The 10 Most Hated Companies in America – Yahoo! Finance

[2] McKeon’s The Evolution of Privacy on

[3] Facebook’s privacy settings: