This Is What Facebook Memory Lane Looks Like on Its Ninth Birthday

The Atlantic Wire

Nine years ago today, nobody could have seen this. Well, except maybe Mark Zuckerberg, we guess. But it's been a very fast road since February 2004: a couple years, a couple lawsuits, more than 1 billion users, and a shaky IPO later, and you've got a Harvard computer-science student's side project pretty much invention a major new form of human communication. On the occasion of Facebook's ninth anniversary, pretty much the whole Internet has decided to get nostalgic. Here's how:

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Re-Living the Early Days 

Remember the Ivy League's social-media Wild West? Maybe not well enough. Because Buzfeed's Rob Fishman details the lives of the first Facebook members, and not all of these early adopters were the excitable nerds depicted in The Social Network. It took "a few minutes of mockery" to get Mark Kaganovich, also known as Employee No. 7, to put up a photo up on the original TheFacebook.com.  

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It's also kind of fun to see how we talked about that little social network in the news, like in this Harvard Crimson article that came out just days after Zuck launched the network. It's pretty quaint, as you can see from the headline alone: "Hundreds Register for New Facebook Website." Hundreds! Ha. There's also this laughable part about the "myriad privacy options":

“There are pretty intensive privacy options,” he [Zuckerbeg] 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.”

Zuckerberg said that he hoped the privacy options would help to restore his reputation following student outrage over facemash.com, a website he created in the fall semester.

"The Facebook" would go on to become "Facebook" as it launched at other schools besides Harvard and the Ivy League, but if only Zuckerberg knew how easy he had it on privacy then.

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Re-Visiting the Homepage

Remember what Facebook used to look like? The correct answer is sort ofFacebook has a retrospective of layouts from 2005 through 2009, which will quickly remind you just how the site went from ugly to, well, more ugly?

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Introducing The Facebook:

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No more "the":

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Notifications in the Profile feed:

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Introducing the Wall:

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A very prominent News Feed:

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Then in 2011 we got the Timeline, which made the site a little nicer to look at. And then came that big Graph Search bar this year (just take the tour already).

Re-Read the Long (Scary) Reads

For our more business-minded readers, you can also read how the baby network went from an "up-and-coming" network in 2005, to a social network "taking over our lives" in 2009, to a big business that plans on selling "you" in 2010, to a "mature" company about to have a $100 billion IPO. It doesn't end there.

Celebrate the Unsung Heroes

It's always Zuckerberg this and Eduardo Saverin that, but Wired's Cade Metz takes a look at the "data brains behind the rise of Facebook." Metz introduces us to the people behind Facebook's data infrastructure team, arguably some of the most important people at the social network — and thus in all of social networking. Facebook's data production, after all, will likely end up being its most important contribution to society, the Internet, and its own business. Read up, people. 

Really, Just Quit It with the Irony Already

Too easy? Yes. Too easy:

On this day in 2004 Facebook was launched, the world's largest birthday reminder service.

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 4, 2013

Happy Birthday to @facebook, without which I would never remember anybody's birthday.

— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) February 4, 2013
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