Facebook: How Your Biggest Time-Suck Has Changed in 10 Years

Gone are the old demographics, status updates and photo styles. It's a new (social media) world order

As Facebook turns 10, we’re looking back on all the ways the site has changed over the years. Come along with us down social media memory lane, won't you?

1. It used to be for students

Once upon a time, Facebook was intended as a way to connect university students, and signing up for it required a dot edu email address. Boy, are those days ever over. Now, it’s a tool used liberally by folks of all ages, including multiple generations of families. 

2. In fact, young people are bailing

Sure, there are plenty of students and young people still on Facebook. But many in that category are fleeing the site, for various reasons. (See above: their moms and grandmas are getting on board. There goes the neighborhood!)

3. People used to talk about themselves in third person

Remember? That seems weird now that we’ve grown fully comfortable in our own Facebook-appropriate first-person voices. 

4. Today, status updates are way more varied

Once upon a time, we were required to start our status updates with “[Your name] is…?” Well, that was rather limiting when it came to our personal expression, and we ended up jumping through weird rhetorical hoops to fit the format. Not so much anymore. We express freely!

5. There was no such thing as a selfie in 2004

Now that selfies are such an omnipresent part of our social media vocabulary (hello, Oxford word of the year in 2013!), it’s hard to even remember a time before this style of portrait (often wildly abused) dominated our feeds.

6. Photo posting overall is totally different

The traditional format for pasting photos on Facebook used to go something like this: Have a birthday party or go on a vacation, take a bunch of photos on your camera, upload those to your computer, then post a complete album from the event on Facebook. Now, it’s much more a medium for posting one-off photos (sometimes of totally mundane things) that originate from mobile phones and pull from places outside Facebook, like Instagram.

7. Brands are now targeting Facebook

These days, we totally accept (or, ahem, more or less accept) that marketers are going to blanket our feeds with their brand messages. Often, we even court these messages by liking their pages. But that wasn’t the case in years past — when our "friends" were limited actual people.

8. It’s not just frivolous content

If Facebook used to be a place for casual shots (say, relaxing on a beach or drinking from red Solo cups) shared among friends, its purposes are a lot broader now. It’s a place for professional self-promotion, personal brand building and networking. (And no one really thinks their personal life on Facebook is inaccessible to their bosses or colleagues anymore, do they?) Further, it’s a place to share things that matter to us: culturally relevant news stories, articles, videos and more.

9. Everyone’s using it on mobile now

You may not even feel comfortable venturing back to this dark place down memory lane, but 2004 was a time before every last one of us had a smartphone. (You guys, the iPhone wasn’t even introduced until 2007!) Now 945 million of us (let that sink in) are accessing the network from our phones and mobile devices.

10. It’s totally ubiquitous

Back in the day, Facebook was a niche network, with about 1 million users in 2004. These days, what’s so compelling about it is that almost everyone you know — or used to know, or want to know — is on there, to the tune of 1.2 billion-plus users. Not too shabby a growth spurt for a 10 year old.

Let us know what we missed: What was the most important change to Facebook in the last 10 years?

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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