When did it all begin, the great debate
There seems to be a lot of debate online about when social media really began. Some say back in the day of mailing letters and sending telegrams (Samuel Morse’s first telegraph, which he sent in 1844 between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore) was a form of social media as it was a way of sharing information, ideas and messages.
However, if we refer to the definition of social media as per dictionary.com “websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts” there are two things that would stand out.
“1. Social media must include online communication, meaning the history of social media cannot begin before the invention and widespread adoption of the internet; and
2. Social media depends on user-generated content. This is why typical websites and blogs do not get included in the world of social media. Only certain people can post to these sites, and there are significant restrictions on the types of content that get uploaded.” (Jones, 2015, “History of Social Media“, para. 6)
So it had to begin after the internet…
Compuserve was founded in 1969 and was the first major commercial internet provider in the US and it was known for its revolutionary features it introduced including a chat system and forums for various topics.
Community Memory was the first public computer-based bulletin board. It was set up in 1973 as an experimental service and is thought of as a pre-Web social service. It was installed next to a traditional bulletin board which musicians and others in the community used to post their business cards, flyers and ads. It provided groups of people who had never used a computer with access to technology and information-sharing.
Usernet was created in 1979 and officially launched in 1980. It began with three networked computers as a way to exchange messages and files between computers and over time, grew to include thousands of discussion groups. Google has added more than 20 years of Usernet archives to its service Google groups.
So, which came first…
Six Degrees is considered the very first social networking site allowing users to sign up with their email addresses, make profiles and add friends to their personal network. It was launched in 1997 and lasted until 2001 and had about 3.5 million users at its peak.
In 2002 Friendster emerged, it was similar to Six Degrees, you signed up with your email address, made friends but you could also share videos, photos and send messages to other users as long as they were in your personal network. It ceased operation in 2015 although it had reached 100 million users.
MySpace was born in 2003 and quickly became the largest social media website in the world. In 2006 it surpassed Google as the top visited website. Eventually, in 2008, Facebook replaced it in popularity, although MySpace still exists today.
Ryze is considered to be the first business networking site, launched in 2001, however it was quickly taken over in popularity by LinkedIn which was launched in 2003.
In 2004, Orkut was launched by Google, however it was never able to succeed in its quest to overtake Friendster and MySpace.
Flickr was born in 2004 as a photo hosting service and is still going strong with millions of photos and groups.
In 2005 came Yahoo! 360 Degrees and Bebo, both of which could not compete with Facebook.
And well, I would consider the rest (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat) where we are today. All of these networks were driven and created by their predecessors. Where will go next? Well, only time will tell.
Do you have other interesting information you have come across in the history of social media? Did you use any of the “original” networks? I didn’t, so I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the progression of social media.
Facebook: The History of Social Media https://bit.ly/3zKxfxy
Twitter: #History #SocialMedia https://bit.ly/3zKxfxy