Mass communication has been an important part of our society for centuries, starting with the printing press, moving to radio, on to television, later to social media and everything in between. But in honor of this Social Media Day, let's dive into the various social media platforms and how they originated and evolved.
Enjoy this (brief) history of mass communication in the modern age.
Facebook launched in 2004 (making it a wisened 13 years old), and, with 1.97 billion active users, it is the leading social platform in the world. Mark Zuckerberg launched the site, “The Facebook,” at the time, when he was attending Harvard. It was conceived as a social networking site for the campus. At the time he was accused of stealing other people’s ideas and computer software in order to create the network. (We all saw the 2010 movie, The Social Network, yes?) Facebook since rolled out to other college campuses, then to high-school-age users and finally across the country to anyone with an email.
Founded in 2010 by Stanford students Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram grew very quickly in the time since. The founders launched the app, and it was an instant sensation, gaining more than 10,000 users within the first day. The main problem upon launching the platform was keeping the server up, with excessive activity slowing it down. (Not necessarily the worst problem to have.) They wanted Instagram to be an easy way to share images on the go. Instagram added its first filters in 2011, and, just a year later, Facebook bought it for $1 billion.
The idea of Twitter started when former Google employees sought to make a platform to share podcasts. But when iTunes launched its podcast platform, Odeo (Twitter's former name), became irrelevant. That is when the founders, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Noah Glass and Jack Dorsey, started brainstorming new ideas. They liked the idea of people posting a status of what they were doing and calling it "Twttr," which eventually evolved into the current fully fledged name of "Twitter." The first tweet was sent on March 21, 2006, and said, “just setting up my twttr."
Snapchat was developed and subsequently launched in 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, who were all Stanford students. They wanted a way to talk to people and better show their emotions while communicating—but in private, one-to-one conversations. After considerable thought, they started developing a platform they called "Pictaboo," which had a slow start. After Brown left the company, Spiegel and Murphy changed the name to Snapchat and spread the word about the platform, which now boasts 166 million daily active users.