Throwback Thursday: A Look Back at the First Days of Facebook

It launched 12 years ago today.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

On February 4, 2004, 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and his roommates launched TheFacebook—as it was known—while he was a psychology and computer science student at Harvard.

Today, Facebook might be the only way you’d remember anyone’s birthday. 

The social media network revolutionized global communication, among other things, and is partly to blame for FOMO. It changed the world 12 years ago on this day in myriad ways. So we decided to throw it back to an early report about Facebook, courtesy of a Harvard Crimson article dated February 9, 2004. Its headline reads “Hundreds Register for New Facebook Website.” Here are the highlights:

1. Zuckerberg couldn’t wait for Harvard to make their own “universal face book,” so he whipped one up in a week.

He created and coded the entire site in seven days out of frustration.

“I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week,” he told the Crimson.

2. Some 650 students joined in the first four days of its existence.

Compare that to the world’s one billion active Facebook users.

3. Privacy questions were already raised.

Zuckerberg assured the Crimson that his website’s search capabilities were restricted for those who didn’t “want everyone to be able to look up their information.”

“There are pretty intensive privacy options,” [Zuckerberg] said. “You can limit who can see your information, if you only want current students to see your information, or people in your year, in your house, in your classes. You can limit a search so that only a friend or a friend of a friend can look you up. People have very good control over who can see their information.”

4. He said he didn’t create Facebook with the intent of generating revenue.

Now Facebook is worth almost $250 billion. In another (interesting) statement, Zuckerberg told the college paper that he wasn’t going to “sell anyone’s e-mail address.”

5. An early LinkedIn was also a possibility.

“At one point I thought about making the website so that you could upload a resume too, and for a fee companies could search for Harvard job applicants. But I don’t want to touch that. It would make everything more serious and less fun.”