Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California and a flagship service of the namesake company Facebook, Inc. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
The founders initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students and subsequently Columbia, Stanford, and Yale students. Membership was eventually expanded to the remaining Ivy League schools, MIT, and higher education institutions in the Boston area, then various other universities, and lastly high school students. Since 2006, anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old has been allowed to become a registered user of Facebook, though this may vary depending on local laws. The name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students.
The Facebook service can be accessed from devices with Internet connectivity, such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones. After registering, users can create a customized profile revealing information about themselves. They can post text, photos and multimedia which is shared with any other users that have agreed to be their “friend”, or, with a different privacy setting, with any reader. Users can also use various embedded apps, join common-interest groups, buy and sell items or services on Marketplace, and receive notifications of their Facebook friends’ activities and activities of Facebook pages they follow. Facebook claimed that it had more than 2.3 billion monthly active users as of December 2018. However, it faces a big problem of fake accounts. It caught 3 billion fake accounts in the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019. Many critics questioned whether Facebook knows how many actual users it has.
It receives prominent media coverage, including many controversies. These often involve user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections), psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and content that some users find objectionable, including fake news, conspiracy theories, and copyright infringement. Commentators have accused Facebook of helping to spread false information and fake news. In 2017, Facebook partnered with fact checkers from the Poynter Institute‘s International Fact-Checking Network to identify and mark false content, though most ads from political candidates are exempt from this program. Critics of the program accuse Facebook of not doing enough to remove false information from its website. Facebook is the most downloaded mobile app of the decade from 2010 to 2019 globally.