HOW FACEBOOK WORKS
THE LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST
STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG LAST
How does Facebook work?
Facebook is a social networking website that, since its
inception, has exploded in popularity with people of all ages. On Facebook,
people can create a profile, upload pictures, make friends, play games, and do a
whole world of other things. But for those who are new to the site, it can seem
a bit overwhelming. With profiles and pictures, a public wall, applications,
third-party applications, and Facebook mobile, just exactly how does it all
Even though it may seem that Facebook has been
taking over the world for decades now, Facebook has only been around for 2004.
Back then it was created by Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
At the time all three were attending Harvard University and wanted to create a
site where people could go to connect with friends, meet new friends, and share
photos. It was originally called “thefacebook.com” and the site became so widely
popular in just its first month that the boys expanded it to include the
campuses of Yale, Stamford, and Columbia. By the next year, the site had
expanded so much that students from over 800 schools across the United States
could join and the site had 5 million users. It was in August of 2005 that the
site’s name was changed to “Facebook.”
Signing Up and Making Friends
Today, you don’t have to be a student to join the site and you don’t even have
to live in the United States. Facebook is open to anyone over the age of 13, in
any country in the world. All someone has to do to become a member of Facebook
is open a free account. There are a few stipulations however. One is the age
requirement of 13, and the other is that anyone who’s a member of the site and
between the ages of 13-18 must be attending school. Every member also must have
a valid working email address in order to sign onto the site. Once a person has
started to sign up for their account, they will be sent an email for
confirmation. Once confirmed, a person then has free access to the site, and can
start filling in their profile information, uploading pictures, making friends,
and taking advantage of all the other things that Facebook has to offer.
The first thing most people do once they’re signed
up on Facebook is to find friends. And Facebook has a few ways that you can do
this. The first is to browse through and join a network. These are divided up
into four categories: by region (cities or countries); colleges, places of
employment, and high schools. After joining a network, it’s then possible to
search through it to find people you know. It’s even possible to sort people
while you’re browsing by age, race, sex, and other different criteria. Facebook
can also search for people using your contact list in your email. Facebook will
simply search the names, and then search its database looking for those same
names. But Facebook still gives you one more option. If you know the name of the
person you’re looking for, you can just type it into the search engine found
within Facebook and it will search through its database and pull up a listing of
possible results for you. If you’re very specific with the name, it usually only
pulls up one or two, depending on how many groups the person is active in, and
Your profile on Facebook is the page that people
will be taken to when they want to come find you on Facebook. On your profile
page you can fill in various information, such as your relationship status,
where you work, and where you go to school. Facebook will then automatically
search for others who have the same information on their profile page and allow
you to see the people that are on Facebook with this same information. The
advantage is that you’ll be able to see at a glance many people who are already
on Facebook that you may know, but the disadvantage is that everyone can see you
too. There are different privacy settings that you can change but doing so
defeats the purpose of social networking and so, this is why it does it
When you first get your profile page, there will be
a few things already in place. These are: an area for you to upload a profile
picture (the picture everyone will see when they find your profile); a friends
area, which will display all of the people on your friends list; a personal
information section; a feed, which will tell you about the latest changes your
friends have made to their profile, and will tell them about any of yours; and a
wall, which is where your friends can leave notes for you. When you go onto
someone else’s profile page, if that person is not yet your friend, you’ll also
see an area that will permit you to invite them to be your friend. If they
accept your friend request, you will be added to each other’s friends list and
be able to access each other’s profile page.
When you log into Facebook, you’ll automatically be taken to your own Home page.
This is a page that only you can see, although many of the same updates may
appear on your friends’ pages as well. This page is a news feed, and will tell
you about any changes your friends have made to their profile pages such as
picture changes, or if they advanced in a game. You may also see whether a
friend has gotten their horoscope that day, or if they changed their status
update. In essence, anything that your friends choose to publish to their
profile page, you will see in your news feed, depending on how much news there
is that day.
A special type of profile is that of a business,
organization, artist, or other person or group who is trying to promote
themselves publicly. These profile pages are called “Fan” pages and generally,
personal information is not posted on these pages. Instead, information about
the company or group will be listed, and you can then choose to “Like” it. This
simply means you’ll now have access to anything posted on that profile, such as
invitations to events, news, and wall messages.
Facebook is pretty simple up to this point. You log
on, make friends, and talk to them. But, in come applications. Facebook
applications can seem very intimidating and overwhelming at first, especially if
you’re toying with the idea of creating a Facebook application. These
applications are what’s used when people are playing games, uploading photos,
and doing many more things on the social networking site.
The applications on Facebook are what has made it so
incredibly popular, and sets it apart from other social networking sites, such
as Twitter. On Facebook, there are two different types of applications:
first-party and third-party. The first-party applications are those that come
with the site, and are available to anyone who becomes a member, and there are a
few of them within Facebook. These are the different first-party applications on
- The photos application allows you to upload
photos, and the number you can upload is unlimited. It also allows you to
view the photos of your friends, as well as do a number of other things such
as “tagging” a friend, which essentially puts their name on the photo and
makes them aware that the photo is there.
- The video application on Facebook allows you to
do much the same as photos, uploading and viewing any that your friends
post. There are certain requirements but members can upload videos in just
about any format, and Facebook will convert them into Flash format.
- The groups application allows people to form
groups, inviting friends to events, posting information about a humanitarian
cause, or anything else that might be of interest to the public.
- The events application can be found within
other applications and allows people to invite other people to specific
- The Facebook marketplace application is a place
where people can go to buy and sell stuff. All sales are made directly
between members and Facebook only provides members with a place to do so.
They do not get directly involved with any sale.
- There’s also a posted items application in
Facebook. This application allows people to post things from the Web onto
their profile page. So for instance, if a member of Facebook comes across a
news article on the Web, they can post it on their profile page and all of
their friends will be able to see it.
- The gifts application is another that can be
used in Facebook to send friends gifts. Depending on the gift, some may cost
money but most don’t.
Just by looking at the applications that
automatically come with the site, it’s easy to see what a long way Facebook has
come since its inception. New applications are always being made and added to
the site, plus there are thousands of third-party applications. Third-party
applications are those that are not created by Facebook, and that are created by
regular people like you. Many sites offer application programming interfacing
(API), which is what allows members to create their own applications. These
third-party applications also don’t come automatically with your Facebook
profile. You must install them, and you must be careful when doing so. Although
most of the third-party applications on Facebook are perfectly safe, if you add
too many, your profile page will only become confusing for those who visit it.
Third-party applications do become a bit more
complicated. They don’t work the same way that first-party applications do
firstly because developers of third-party applications need to have access to
certain things and secondly because they don’t automatically appear on a
person’s profile page when they run them.
First, developers of third-party applications must
have access to a Web server that can store their application; Facebook’s server
will not hold them. These applications can also be Web-based, desktop-based, or
mobile-based. So a person can have an application on their Facebook mobile that
does not appear on their profile page. Another member could have a desktop
application that can be accessed that will give a person direct access to their
Third-party Facebook applications run on a
Representational State Transfer (REST) interface which makes the transfer of
data quick and efficient. With this interface, applications use Hypertext
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) GET or POST request. The GET request will access the
information and the POST request will send that information to be posted on a
certain page. This allows applications to pull information from members’
Developers also need to communicate with databases,
servers and web pages in order to function. The language that third-party
Facebook applications need to use is Facebook Query Language (FQL), which is a
lot like another language programmers use, Structured Query Language (SQL.) FQL
allows developers to see information about their users, which is essentially the
main purpose of it. Developers sometimes use this information to create target
marketing for specific audiences, or to see how much a person is browsing the
Web. While this is certainly something that makes Facebook applications so
unique, it’s also one of the main points that Facebook has been criticized for
because it can be argued that this violates a person’s privacy.
When developers want to get a bit more advanced,
they can use the Facebook Markup Language (FML.) This allows the application to
become much more integrated with a person’s profile page and can vastly change
the experience of the member by completely changing and personalizing their
Every application also has a canvas page. Both the developer and the user can
see the canvas page, however it works much differently for both of them. The
developer can put up anything they want on the canvas page and change it
whenever they want. A user however, will only see the canvas page when they
click on the icon for that application.
Facebook Mobile is
simply another way to use the site, and that’s through a cell phone. On any cell
phone that can access Facebook, it can work in three different ways: text
messages, mobile uploads, and mobile browsing.
If the cell phone uses text messages to access
Facebook mobile, it will rely on Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia
Messaging Service (MMS.) Not all phones are equipped with these but SMS allows
users to send and receive text messages. SMS only allows for 160 characters and
that’s why MMS was created. This works the same way as SMS but there is no limit
on how much a person may type. Text messaging allows people some access to
Facebook. When a person sends a text message to Facebook, such as when changing
their status update, the message will be sent to a mobile switching center
(MSC), and from there it will go to a signal transfer point (STP.) Even from
there it still has to go to a short message service center (SMSC), which will
then pass on the text message to Facebook and post it. If Facebook needs to send
a text message to a phone, such as when they send a notification, the process is
Mobile uploads work very much like text messages
but they use MMS. This allows the user to do much more, such as send video and
pictures. Not all cell phones allow for MMS and if they don’t, they will simply
send a text message to the cell phone, telling the person to check the website
to see what the message is they just received.
Mobile web browsing requires the cell phone to have
a 3G or Wi-Fi connection in order to access the site. If a person does have
these capabilities on their phone, they will be able to access the site just as
they would from their personal computer, by going through a web browser. They
will then be able to do anything on their profile page that they would be able
to from their home computer.
Facebook certainly has come a long way since it was
first created in 2004, and its popularity only continues to grow. Facebook
claims that it has 57 million active members, and “active members” only refers
to those people who have a profile and have logged in within the past 30 days.
And since 2007, it’s also said that Facebook receives 250,000 new registrations
every day. Of those Facebook members, most of them come from the United States,
with Canada bringing in a close second. The United Kingdom has the third most
amount of members on the site. It’s said that registrations on Facebook double
every six months.
Facebook is the second largest social networking site, but it’s number one in
image sharing. Because there are so many members, and so many more joining every
day, and the fact that members can upload as many photos as they want, it’s easy
to see why Facebook is ranked so high as an image sharing site. On average,
there are about 14 million images uploaded to Facebook every day.
The applications, especially third-party
applications, are constantly growing as well. There have been more than 7,000
third-party applications integrated into Facebook ever since the site started to
allow them in 2007. Each day sees about 100 more applications on the site, and a
Facebook poll showed that over eighty percent of their users have used at least
one third-party application.
So, with over 350 employees, rooms and rooms of
servers, and so many people using it, how does Facebook stay afloat financially?
If you’ve ever been on Facebook, you know that the site does have some
advertising on the site and that does help create revenue. However, most of the
revenue made by Facebook comes from private investors, from whom Facebook has
received more than $40 million dollars since it was created.