How the Internet Has Evolved Since Facebook Launched

With Facebook's huge IPO in the news, Megan Garber takes a look at how much the Internet has evolved since Thefacebook came on the scene.

With Facebook’s huge IPO in the news, Megan Garber takes a look at how much the Internet has evolved since Thefacebook came on the scene.

Facebook launched in 2004. Today, it has more users than the entire Internet had in 2004.

Before Facebook roamed the web, the digital world was dominated by big, bulky websites that assumed they’d stay big and bulky: Microsoft and its Hotmail, Time Warner and its AOL, Ask and its Jeeves. It’s striking how much the Internet has changed since Facebook sprinted onto the scene — and more striking still how much Mark Zuckerberg’s production did to change the course of that scene.

Back in 2004,


I’m dubious that Zuckerberg’s creation, popular as it became, is the reason for much of this. It was, after all, limited to students until late 2006 and MSN, AOL, and Lycos were on their way out  and blogs and Wikipedia were mainstream by then.

Indeed, I’d say that blogs have had a much greater impact on the Web than Facebook. Specifically, hastening the leveling effect that Garber alludes to in her intro. Back when OTB launched in January 2003, the differences between amateur and professional websites were instantly obvious. Nowadays, they’re not only harder to spot they’re largely irrelevant. A web page is a web page is a web page these days and the portal model is long gone.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. merl says:

    I like how the top searches were for woman. Probably looking for nude pics.

  2. Herb says:

    Another way the internet has evolved…my 16 year old nephew does all his facebooking….on his phone.

  3. Unfortunately most people are so stupid, that they unveil their whole live at facebook, provide all kind of data, etc..
    Too many people live in the “facebook-world” only – no (or only a few) real, “human”, personal friends, buddies..
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not so bad to stay in contact with people who live far away, but too many people “forget” that there’s also a “real” life, offline…
    And: the world doesn’t need to now every detail of your day…