The Historical past of Social Media in 33 Key Moments


The historical past of social media is an extended and storied one. It’s bursting with pivotal moments just like the launch of Instagram Tales, to that one time Zuck was on trial for Fb privateness points, to…truthfully, let’s simply take a look at the whole social media historical past timeline.

So sit again, calm down, and be part of us whereas we glance again at what as soon as was the long run.

The 33 most necessary moments within the historical past of social media

The primary social media website was born (1997)

On one of the first true social media websites,, you can arrange a profile web page, create lists of connections, and ship messages inside networks.

The location amassed round a million customers earlier than being purchased out for $125 million, solely to shutter in 2000.

The precise reply to “when was the primary social media website launched” is debatable. SixDegrees was actually one in every of the primary, however it’s a must to outline what a social media website is earlier than you may say which is the primary.

For instance, the PLATO system, developed by the College of Illinois in 1970, had many options of an early social media community however was largely utilized in academia.

So, how previous is social media? It relies upon, however early social media platforms began to pop up within the late 90s to early 2000s, with the expertise budding as early because the 70s.

Scorching or Not (2000)

Who can neglect The location invited customers to submit images of themselves so others may price their attractiveness. Scorching or Not is rumored to have influenced the creators of Fb and YouTube and nurtured tens of millions of insecurities.

After being bought off just a few instances, it’s at the moment rebranded because the courting app, Chat & Date.

Friendster (2002)

Launched in 2002, Friendster was initially going to be a courting website that will assist arrange folks with buddies in frequent. You can create a profile, embrace “standing updates,” and reveal your temper.

Sadly, the location’s spike in reputation in 2003 caught the corporate without warning. The flood of visitors took a toll on Friendster’s servers, impacting customers, who more and more regarded to attach elsewhere.

Myspace: “A spot for buddies” (2003)

Friendster rival Myspace (initially styled as MySpace) rapidly grew to become the go-to website for tens of millions of hip teenagers.

Its customizable public profiles (which frequently featured music, movies, and badly shot, half-nude selfies) had been seen to anybody, a distinction to Friendster’s personal profiles.

2005 marked the apex of Myspace. The location had 25 million customers and was the fifth hottest website within the US when it bought to NewsCorp. And that was the beginning of its decline from ultra-trendy to ultra-tacky.

Gaining traction: LinkedIn, YouTube, and WordPress (and extra) arrive (2003-2005)

In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facemash, described as Harvard College’s reply to Scorching or Not. “The Fb” adopted in 2004. Registering its one-millionth person that very same 12 months, the location grew to become simply “Fb” in 2005.

Across the similar time, a tidal wave of different social media websites swept ashore:

Twitter hatches (2006)

Twitter (née twttr) took flight in 2006.

The primary tweet ever, posted by co-founder @Jack Dorsey learn: “simply organising my twttr.” and actually set the tone for future tweets. Dorsey originally envisioned twttr as a text message-based tool for sending updates between buddies.

TechCrunch reported twttr’s first customers had been sending breaking life updates like: “Cleansing my condo” and “Hungry.” (My, how instances have(n’t) modified!)

LinkedIn “within the Black” (2006)

In sharp distinction to different networks, LinkedIn was the primary to supply customers paid premium packages. Its Jobs and Subscriptions space, the location’s first premium enterprise line, helped herald income within the early days.

“So far as we’re involved, a 12 months of profitability is however a ‘style’ of the success we aspire to attain at LinkedIn,” mentioned social media supervisor Mario Sundar in a blog post lauding 2006 as LinkedIn’s first 12 months “within the black.”

YouTube makes companions, the OG influencers (2007)

By YouTube’s elephantine beginnings, the thrill grew. Between its beta stage in Could 2005 and the December 2005 launch, the location gathered almost eight million every day views. Forward of its acquisition by Google within the fall of 2006, the location grew to 100 million movies watched by 20 million devoted customers.

In Could 2007, YouTube introduced its partnership program. The partnership program made it doable for YouTubers like Mr. Beast to make tens of millions immediately. This second basically marked the start of social media influencers.

Tumblr and the age of the microblog (2007)

In 2007, the social community described as “Twitter meets YouTube and WordPress” got here a-tumblin’ alongside when 17-year-old David Karp launched Tumblr from his bedroom.

Quickly after, the time period micro-blogging grew to become broadly used to explain each Twitter and Tumblr, noting the alternate of ‘small’ quantities of content material.

The hashtag arrives (2007)

The strict 140-character restrict for tweets set Twitter aside from rivals, together with Fb and Tumblr. However Twitter’s significance was actually outlined by the hashtag, an emblem that’s helped political organizers and common residents mobilize, promote, and create consciousness.

Hashtags have additionally helped plant the seeds that sprouted actions reminiscent of #Occupy, #BlackLivesMatter, and #MeToo. Additionally, timesucks like #SundayFunday and #Susanalbumparty.

As the story goes, Twitter early adopter Chris Messina, proposed the hashtag for organizing tweets. It wasn’t till a few months later, that the #SanDiegoFire hashtag was sparked to combination tweets and updates in regards to the California wildfires. In 2009, Twitter capitalized on the hashtag by including hyperlink capabilities.

Welcome Weibo (2009)

China’s Sina Weibo, or just Weibo, is basically a Fb and Twitter hybrid that launched in 2009, the identical 12 months Fb and Twitter had been banned within the nation.

Together with WeChat and Douyin, Weibo stays one in every of the most popular social networks in China.

FourSquare “examine in” drops (2009)

Location-based app Foursquare was one of many first that allowed customers to “examine in,” whereas sharing suggestions all about their favourite neighborhoods and cities. They earned virtual mayorships whereas they had been at it.

You might not bear in mind Foursquare (or weren’t but born throughout its heyday), however likelihood is, you’ve used the corporate’s tech. Foursquare’s geolocation API was used for geofilters and placement tagging in apps like Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

Grindr revolutionizes the hookup (2009)

Grindr, on the scene in 2009, was the primary geosocial networking app for courting geared in direction of homosexual and bisexual males, serving to them meet different males close by. It revolutionized hookup culture and paved the way in which for a lot of different geolocation courting apps (like Tinder) for straight and queer folks alike.

Introducing Instagram (2010)

On July 16, 2010, one in every of the first Instagram photos to be published by co-founder Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) was an uncaptioned, closely filtered shot of a marina.

Instagram posts have turn out to be fairly a bit extra subtle, largely as a result of platform’s success, and Instagram’s now the most downloaded app globally.

Pinterest has us pining to pin (2010)

Pinterest went dwell in closed beta in 2010, launching in 2011. Pinning rapidly grew to become a favourite new interest (and verb) for home gods and goddesses.

As of 2022, Pinterest had 445 million monthly active users, proving simply how fashionable the location stays.

Snapchat’s disappearing act (2011)

Nearly precisely a 12 months after Instagram, soon-to-be rival “Picaboo” launched, rapidly rebranding to Snapchat following a lawsuit by a equally named firm.

The app’s early success tapped into the ephemeral nature of life’s moments, permitting customers to put up content material that will vanish after 24 hours. (To not point out giving us all the flexibility to puke rainbows.)

The disappearing snaps appealed to the teenager demographic the app first attracted. Snapchat was additionally the right various for teenagers to seek out their buddies and flee their households on Fb.

Google Plus needs in on the social gathering (2011)

2011 was additionally the 12 months Google tried to roll out one other reply to Fb and Twitter, following earlier failed makes an attempt. Google Plusinvitation-only system dropped in 2011, giving new customers entry to 150 invites they might ship out earlier than the official opening. Demand was so excessive that Google ultimately needed to droop them.

Sadly, the social community’s launch was no match for social juggernauts like Fb and Twitter. Google Plus struggled to accrue its opponents’ staggering utilization numbers, and it will definitely fizzled.

Twitch launches (2011)

Twitch, the massively fashionable online game live-streaming website, was initially launched as a subsidiary of Justin.television, a normal curiosity streaming website that launched in 2007.

Apparently, A LOT of individuals (like 45 million unique viewers by 2013) love watching live-streamed video video games. Amazon noticed the spike and rapidly scooped Twitch up.

Fb celebrates one billion and acquires Instagram (2012)

Eight years after its launch (from Zuck’s Harvard dorm room), Facebook announced its person base had reached one billion customers.

“In case you’re studying this: thanks for giving me and my little crew the distinction of serving you. Serving to a billion folks join is wonderful, humbling and by far the factor I’m most pleased with in my life,” Zuckerberg mentioned.

This was additionally the 12 months Facebook acquired Instagram for a billion dollars, a notable second within the timeline of social networks.

Vine reshapes the way in which we view video (2013)

Vine launched in 2013, however not earlier than Twitter purchased the video-sharing app for $30 billion. The premise was pretty easy—movies shared on Vine may solely be as much as 6 seconds lengthy—however rapidly spawned a definite style of humor that also resonates immediately.

Regardless of the fast success, the app had a reasonably fast demise on account of apps like Snapchat and Instagram following with their very own video-sharing capabilities.

Slack (2013)

Slack dropped the identical 12 months as Google Hangouts and introduced social media to the company world in a approach LinkedIn didn’t.

Slack presents staff a spot to socialize on-line inside firms and business professionals a spot to socialize with others in comparable Slack teams.

Patreon (2013)

Whereas early social media influencers constructed followings on locations like YouTube and Twitch, the monetization of their followers leveled up with Patreon.

It was created by developer Sam Yam and musician Jack Conte, who needed to create an earnings stream from his YouTube movies. The platform permits patrons to subscribe to month-to-month or unique creator content material.

Yr of the Selfie (2014)

Twitter proclaimed 2014 because the “Year of the Selfie” following Ellen DeGeneres’s Oscar picture. That selfie has been retweeted greater than three million instances, setting a Twitter file and profitable Twitter’s award for “Golden tweet” of the 12 months.

The live-streaming wars start (2015)

Meerkat was the primary app to start out the live-streaming craze (RIP). Then, Twitter developed Periscope and received the streaming wars (for some time).

Periscope grew to become the go-to app for streaming and watching dwell occasions. Having a shower with hearts anytime you hit the file button was all the motivation anybody wanted. It was so fashionable that Apple awarded the app the iOS app of the year in 2015.

Now, live-streaming is a normal characteristic in main apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Fb. RIP to Periscope, 2015-2021.

Instagram launches Tales (2016)

Taking a web page from Snapchat, Instagram launched “Stories,” permitting customers to put up picture and video sequences that disappear inside 24 hours (though they will now be saved and archived).

Filters, stickers, polls, hashtags, and highlights to boost Tales have made the app much more addictive.

In 2023, Instagram introduced “Reside Story Replay,” a characteristic that lets you replay your dwell movies in your Instagram Tales.

The U.S. election and social media’s faux information disaster (2016)

You can argue that 2016 was a no-good, very dangerous 12 months for social media and, by extension, democracy.

It was the 12 months subtle info warfare was waged utilizing “troll factories” on social media used to unfold disinformation, together with false claims and conspiracy theories, in the course of the U.S. presidential election.

Fb has since revealed that 126 million People had been uncovered to content material by Russian brokers in the course of the election. In 2018, Fb, Twitter, and Google representatives appeared before the U.S. Congress to testify as a part of ongoing investigations into Russia’s makes an attempt to affect the elections.

A star (TikTok) is born (2017)

Douyin, an app by ByteDance, was launched exterior of China beneath the title TikTok. TikTok’s reputation burns by way of Asian international locations. It grew to become broadly popularized in North America in 2019, at about the identical time Lil Nas X launched Previous City Street on the platform, which rapidly went viral.



♬ Old Town Road – Lil Nas X

Twitter doubles the character restrict (2017)

Twitter doubled its signature character restrict from 140 to 280 characters.

The most important change, together with the introduction of Twitter threads (aka Twitterstorms), now means tweets that may make you go WTF are more and more unavoidable as everybody makes the most of their 280 characters.

Fb goes on trial for information privateness (2018)

In early 2018, it was revealed that Fb allowed a researcher from Cambridge Analytica (one who labored on Donald Trump’s presidential marketing campaign) to harvest data from 50 million users without their consent.

Going through mounting stress to handle information privateness, Zuckerberg participated in 5 days of hearings earlier than the U.S. Congress.

Instagram’s foray into video (2018 – 2021)

In 2018, Instagram elevated its one-minute video restrict to 1 hour and launched a brand new app, IGTV, devoted to long-form video. Additionally they debuted Reels, an Instagram video feature, in 2019.

In 2021, Instagram merged IGTV and Feed movies right into a single format: Instagram Video. This created 4 several types of video codecs on the app: Reels, Video, Tales, and Lives.

Social commerce emerges with Fb and Instagram Outlets (2020)

The worldwide pandemic shifted the way in which folks seen ecommerce, rushing up adoption charges astronomically.

Fb and Instagram introduce Shops, a approach for customers to buy in-app and companies on the platforms to simply promote. This characteristic marks a shift within the rise of social commerce.

Facebook and Instagram launched Shops and heralded the age of social commerce

Supply: Bed.threads on Instagram

New platforms like Clubhouse and BeReal proceed to interrupt floor (2020-2022)

As we entered a brand new decade, social media platforms continued to pop up throughout the digital panorama.

Clubhouse, a social audio platform, grew to become extraordinarily fashionable in the course of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. Nevertheless, it struggled to stay related as pandemic restrictions eased.

BeReal, a photo-sharing app that prompts customers to put up one unfiltered picture per day, made a giant splash in 2022. Although it was at one level the preferred social networking app within the App Retailer, it nonetheless stays to be seen if BeReal is the subsequent TikTok.

The BeReal app claims to offer an unfiltered look at your friends' lives

Supply: BeReal

Elon Musk buys Twitter, app updates comply with (2022)

In 2022, billionaire Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion. The possession change is adopted by a collection of app updates, together with paid verification, seen view counts on tweets, and an unprecedented look into the recommendation algorithm.

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