The History of Social Media: A Timeline

  • August 6, 2018

By Verity Jennings

Four people using social media
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2,800,000 BC: Humans first appear on the earth. Somehow, they manage to learn to express themselves and communicate with each other despite a complete lack of memes and emojis.

1792: The telegraph is invented. The first telegraph message ever sent? “New telegraph, who dis?”

Image showing world's first selfie.

1839: The world’s first “selfie” is taken by amateur chemist and photography enthusiast Robert Cornelius.

1890: The telephone is invented. Sadly, it is unable to take photographs or send text messages yet, rendering it almost completely useless.

1891: The radio, an early precursor to Spotify, is invented.

1940s: The world’s first “supercomputers” are built. The world’s scientists begin developing ways for those supercomputers to communicate with each other. Their dream? To finally be able to publicly share photos of their lunch.

August 6th, 1991: The worldwide web is unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Dial-up noises ensue.

Image showing Six Degrees logo.

1997: The world’s first social networking site: “Six Degrees” is born. Remember them? Neither do we.

January 2000: The millennium bug shuts down everything and ushers in a second dark age. Just kidding. Nothing happened.

2001: Six Degrees shuts down forever. Wait, who?

December 2002: Linkedin is born. The world’s headhunters and hiring agencies lick their chops in anticipation of how easy their jobs are about to become.

Image showing Friendster logo.

March 2002: Friendster is launched. People with very few friends suddenly have lots of friends. The socially awkward of the world rejoice.

Image showing Myspace logo.

August 2003: Myspace is founded, and profile glitter becomes a thing.

February 2004: Facebook goes live, bringing chain emails to social media.

June 2005: The world’s angriest website, Reddit, is launched.

February 2005: YouTube is born, sounding the death knell of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

July 2005: Myspace reaches 22 million users and is growing at a rate of 2 million per month. Everyone can see this THIS bubble will never, ever burst.

October 2006: YouTube is acquired by Google for $1.65 billion, and promptly fades away into obscurity.

March 2006: Twitter goes live.

September 2006: The Facebook “Newsfeed” goes live. Facebook’s grip on what the world tightens.

Image showing hashtag.

August 2007: The hashtag (#) debuts on Twitter. #awesomeidea

October 2008: Spotify goes live. The zombie hand of the music industry bursts through the ground in front of its tombstone.

September 2009: Facebook announces that it is cashflow positive for the first time. Mark Zuckerberg high-fives himself in the mirror repeatedly for 6 straight days.

March 2010: Pinterest goes live. The world’s craft enthusiasts rejoice and the phrase “Pinterest fail” becomes a thing.

October 2010: Instagram is launched and hits 1 million users by December. Taking photos of one’s meal before eating it increases by 10,000,000,000,000%.

July 2011: Snapchat is launched just in time. Everyone’s parents now have Facebook accounts, which is awful.

April 2012: Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion, almost cornering the global market of  selfies and dinner photos.

October 2012: Facebook reaches 1 billion active users. The world wakes up to the fact that a for-profit corporation now owns one of its most important communication channels, and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

June 2015: Friendster shuts down. Wait, who were they again?

Image showing Justin Beiber with dog ears.

September 2015: Snapchat introduces its “filters” feature, allowing users to add animal ears and rainbow puke to their snaps. The internet LOVES it.

September 2016: Snapchat re-brands itself as “Snap inc” and releases smart sunglasses called “Spectacles”. They promptly sell 10 of them.

March 2018: It is revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested troves of user data without their consent and used this data for political purposes. Facebook stock plummets.

April 2018: Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress. The world sees how weird becoming one of the world’s richest humans can make you.

April 2021: Phrasee announces the impending arrival of AI-optimized content for social media!

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