Dan Dryfhout is an avid digital marketer from Ontario. Dan loves snowboarding, mountain biking and in some occasions, long walks on the beach. He moved out west to better serve these passions, especially the beach walking...

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Two Decades of Connection: Celebrating 20 Years of Facebook

It is hard to believe it has already been 20 years, but Facebook (now Meta), has become a household name and taken the digital world by storm since its creation in February 2004. What started out as a directory that was built in a Harvard dorm room has now revolutionized how people connect online and interact daily. Throughout this post we will cover its history and a few key milestones in its journey to becoming the most popular social media platform today.

Facebooks Humble Beginnings

With the idea being derived from Harvard’s “face book”, a directory of students’ photo and personal information, Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates launched “TheFacebook” in 2004. With more and more things going online, the group thought they could execute a face book better than Harvard. This move paid off as by the end of the year it had expanded to over 30 universities.

By 2005, the social platform dropped “The” from the name and set the stage for growth across all ages. In 2006 Facebook moved beyond universities and has been open to everyone. Since then it has changed the landscape for social media and even molded our daily habits.

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Rapid Expansion

Once Facebook became public to everyone, the platform quickly became a household name. A major factor in this popularity was that the launch of smartphones was right at this time, becoming a catalyst to change the mobile landscape that we know today.

By 2008, Facebook overtook the classic MySpace (still missing music on our profiles!) and became the leading social networking site globally. After becoming the number 1 social media platform, Facebook made significant changes to the platform, including updating the News Feed, adding in the ability for developers to build third party apps, and creating the now famous “Like” button. While a like button may seem like a small change, this revolutionized user engagement and has become the default feature in all social media platforms and even websites across the globe.

In 2012, Facebook went public with one of the largest IPOs in tech history, raising $16 billion and valuing the company at $104 billion. In a bold move it also acquired Instagram for $1 billion, building out their family of apps and widening their user base.

The Era of Mobile and Controversy

With Facebook now cornering the market of social media platforms, we really saw the growth of the mobile experience as more and more users interacted with it on their smartphones. At the same time Facebook was experiencing their fair share of controversy. 

With mobile use becoming much more prominent, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, cementing its dominance in the global messaging market.
Facebook was scaling incredibly well in first world countries at this time, but their progress wasn’t without issues. They formed an initiative called Free Basics, which aimed to provide free internet access in developing countries, though it faced criticism for violating net neutrality principles. This was one of their first controversies (of which there would be many). In 2016, their largest scandal was underway with the US Presidential Election. It came to light two years later that Cambridge Analytica collected millions of users’ personal data without their consent, which they were able to leverage for political advertising to try to influence voter’s opinions. After the scandal, users became very aware of the value of their personal data and their right to try to control who has access to this information. This has compelled Facebook to adapt to its users evolving expectations and offer more privacy controls and advertising transparency.

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Strategic Shifts

By 2020 Facebook reached 2.7 billion monthly active users. With Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp maturing and not seeing large shifts of innovations within each platform, Facebook made strategic shifts within their business strategy.

In 2021, the company rebranded as Meta, reflecting its strategic pivot towards building an interconnection between their family of app experiences, as well as their move towards the “metaverse”. Meta has since continued to focus on virtual and augmented reality and has introduced both software and hardware under the Oculus brand (now named Meta Quest). While still in its infancy, Meta’ metaverse will continue to be a focus and area of growth for the organization while they continue to work on growing advertising revenue.


As Meta continues to dominate the social media landscape, it continues to be in the limelight and at the centre of discussions around privacy, democracy, and the future of the digital world. Despite controversies, its impact on social connectivity and digital marketing is undeniable. Over two decades, Facebook has morphed from a simple student directory into a behemoth of the tech world, continuously adapting and expanding its reach across our digital lives. As it continues to play a major role in shaping our online experiences, we’ll be keeping a close eye on its developments. Have questions about Facebook and what’s next for Meta? Reach out to us today.