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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (PAUL SAKUMA/Paul Sakuma/AP)
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (PAUL SAKUMA/Paul Sakuma/AP)

Five things about Facebook at 10 Add to ...

Likes

After drunken pictures of your room mates, the feature most associated with Facebook is the “Like” button. But it wasn’t introduced until the social network hit its five-year anniversary in February, 2009. As of December, 2013, users hit the “Like” button 6 billion times a day, on average. Just imagine how many times Facebook’s 1.23 billion users would hit “Dislike” if they could.

As a public company

Facebook investors had a rough ride after the company’s stock debuted at $38 in its initial public offering in May, 2012. 

1) In the months afterward the air slowly leaked out of the balloon, with the stock falling as low as $18 in the dog days of August, 2012. 

2) But shares began to rise rapidly in July, 2013, based on strong financial results. Facebook topped its opening price for the first time in more than a year in the week after it reported second-quarter (2013) revenue topped $1.8-billion and, crucially, mobile ad revenue made up 41 per cent of the total. 

3) According to the company’s Jan. 29 earnings statement, mobile ad revenue made up 50 per cent of the $2.59-billion recorded for the fourth quarter of 2013, the company’s first billion-dollar mobile quarter. These days investors are being advised to buy, with the stock topping $60, even as Facebook still struggles to make big profits on that revenue.

Facebook Canada

Canadians spend 8 hours a month on Facebook, on average, according to comScore data from 2012. The company says Canada is one of the most “engaged” countries on its network, with some 19 million monthly active users (MAU), 14 million of which are daily active users (DAU) too. But the future of the company is in mobile, and Canada is highly engaged there as well, with 13 million mobile MAU and 9.4 million DAU. The pitch Facebook makes to advertisers is often stated in these sorts of terms: “Game 7 of the Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals was watched by 5.1 million Canadians. On Facebook there is an audience of 14 million people every single day.”

Is there a cure for Facebook?

Are all the young people leaving Facebook? This has become a meme that bedevils the company, even though the evidence for it is weak, at best. A couple of Princeton scholars published “Epidemiological modeling of online social network dynamics,” a study (as-yet not peer reviewed) that compared the behaviour and life cycle of an infectious disease to the proliferation and decline of social networks. By comparing Google search results for Facebook and MySpace, the study predicted that Zuckerberg and Co. would lose 80 per cent of their users between 2015 and 2017. In a scorching riposte, Facebook data scientist Mike Develin wrote a blog post using the Princeton methodology, which many have called deeply flawed, that warned “This trend suggests that Princeton will have only half its current enrolment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all.” Worse, “Google Trends for ‘air’ have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left.”

There are many twists and turns in an online company, and it’s a mini-miracle that Facebook has made it to 10 years. Still, when predicting the death of a service with a billion users, perhaps a more meaningful source of data than Google Trends is required.

First!

The first reference to Facebook in The Globe and Mail was on Friday, March 4, 2005, a year and a month after Facebook launched. In it, writer Michael Kesterton described the new verb sweeping college campuses: Facebooking. On many North American campuses, says The Kansas City Star, “facebook” is now a verb, as in “I facebooked you last night.” It’s not an insult. Students post their profiles and photos on the website http://www.thefacebook.com, then choose the amount of access they want to give other students. It was created by Harvard students at first. Students need an “.edu” e-mail address at a Facebook-admitted college to register.”

The second reference in our archives didn’t come until Saturday, July 2, 2005, in a trend piece titled “Facebook an Internet sensation on campus.” In it, co-founder Chris Hughes (now the owner of U.S. political journal The New Republic and an Obama campaign donor) is quoted saying of the budding billionaire Mark Zuckerberg: “Instead of entering a company and working your way to the top, Mark has created something that has allowed him to start right off in the CEO seat.”

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