What Is Facebook?

Learn why so many people can't stay away from Facebook

Facebook is a social networking website where users can post comments, share photographs, and post links to news or other interesting content on the web, chat live, and watch short-form video.

Shared content can be made publicly accessible, or it can be shared only among a select group of friends or family, or with a single person.

Person using Facebook on a computer
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

How Facebook Began

Facebook began in February of 2004 as a school-based social network at Harvard University. It was created by Mark Zuckerberg along with Edward Saverin, both students at the college. It wasn't until 2006 that Facebook opened to anyone 13 years or older and took off, rapidly overtaking MySpace as the most popular social network in the world.

Facebook's success can be attributed to its ability to appeal to both people and businesses and its ability to interact with sites around the web by providing a single login that works across multiple sites.

Why Users Like Facebook

Facebook is user-friendly and open to everyone. Even the least technical-minded people can sign up and begin posting on Facebook. Although it started out as a way to keep in touch or reconnect with long-lost friends, it rapidly became the darling of businesses that were able to closely target an audience and deliver ads directly to the people most likely to want their products or services.

Facebook makes it simple to share photos, text messages, videos, status posts and feelings on Facebook. The site is entertaining and a regular daily stop for many users.

Unlike some social network sites, Facebook does not allow adult content. When users transgress and are reported, they are banned from the site.

Facebook provides a customizable set of privacy controls, so users can protect their information from getting to third-party individuals.

Key Features of Facebook

Here are a few features that make Facebook so popular:

  • Facebook allows you to maintain a friends list and choose privacy settings to tailor who can see content on your profile.
  • Facebook allows you to upload photos and maintain photo albums that can be shared with your friends.
  • Facebook supports interactive online chat and the ability to comment on your friend's profile pages to keep in touch, share information or to say "hi."
  • Facebook supports group pages, fan pages, and business pages that let businesses use Facebook as a vehicle for social media marketing.
  • Facebook's developer network delivers advanced functionality and monetization options.
  • You can stream video live using Facebook Live.
  • Chat with Facebook friends and family members, or auto-display Facebook pictures with the Facebook Portal device.

Getting Started With Facebook

If you want to see for yourself why 2 billion monthly visitors can't stay away from Facebook, sign up for a free Facebook account online, add profile and cover photos, and search for people you know to start your friends list. You'll be part of the social media juggernaut before you know it.

  • What is Facebook jail?

    Facebook jail is when users temporarily lose commenting and posting abilities on Facebook. Sometimes, Facebook jail can be more like Facebook prison in the sense that it can refer to a user's account is banned permanently or suspended indefinitely.

  • What is Facebook Lite?

    Facebook Lite is a version of the Android Facebook app. It uses less data than the normal app and is primarily designed for older 3G and 2G networks. This version of the app is best for users with older phones and service packages.

  • What is a restricted friend on Facebook?

    Facebook allows users to put friends on a restricted list. When you restrict a friend on Facebook, this means that you will share your posts with these friends only if you select Public as your post's audience. You can also share posts with restricted friends if you tag them in the post.

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