Ten years on, Facebook is still the world's biggest and most popular social network and, despite claims from many commentators and teenagers that its time has now come and the site is about to wane, nothing could be further from the truth.
Facebook currently boasts 1.23 billion monthly active users, 60% of whom visit daily — that's actually a 16% jump year-on-year and, more importantly, it is making serious money. Its profits for 2013 were US$1.5bil (RM5.01bil).
But as well as attracting a user base equal to a quarter of the world's population (and growing), over the past decade Facebook has managed to ingrain itself into popular culture and modern language in a way that no other tech company, with the notable exception of Google, had before managed.
To 'friend' and to 'unfriend' are now verbs, as is to 'unlike,' and to 'poke' now means to tell someone else you exist.
However, some of the doomsayers preaching Facebook's demise do have a point. Facebook's launch was pre-mobile Internet — Facebook predates YouTube, Twitter, the iPhone, the Android operating system, tablets and Google Glass — and new social sites such as Pinterest or Tumblr or Instagram that have sprung up in its wake have been focused on delivering one element of what Facebook was already offering, and usually offering it optimised for mobile devices.
One of the reasons Snapchat has overtaken Facebook as a site for sharing photos (350 million a day and counting) is because it enables its users to do so privately on a network where they're not 'friends' with their parents.
However, one of the most startling statistics when Facebook announced its quarterly results in January was its number of mobile users — 945 million active monthly users and growing, fast.
The key to Facebook's survival and its fight to remain socially relevant is to not simply focus on mobile, but to break down the many features it offers — sharing images, messaging, checking in, sharing stories, etc., into separate, mobile apps, while the website remains an umbrella destination — and that is exactly what Facebook is doing.
To celebrate its 10th birthday it launched Paper, a news curation and sharing app that will give Flipboard a real run for its money and that will be going live on February 3 in the US. It is one of many apps that are set to come over the next three years.
"Connecting everyone means giving the power to share different kinds of content with different groups of people," said Mark Zuckerberg of the decision to focus on mobile during his conference call. "This is something we focused on by launching separate mobile apps beyond the main Facebook app — Messenger and Instagram are great examples of this."
And by different groups of people he is referring to the fact that the younger generation are being turned off by Facebook because it is full of their extended family — uncles, aunts and parents. But then again, of course it is: today's parents were last decade's early-adopter teens and young adults.
Zuckerberg knows this better than anyone and understands that the key to making Facebook truly global is to fragment it and package it up for different types and ages of consumers.
As he explained during the recent earnings call: "If you think about the overall space of sharing and communication, there's not just one thing that people are doing. People want to have the ability to share any kind of content with any audience. There are going to be a lot of different apps that exist, and Facebook has always had the mission of helping people share any kind of content with any audience, but historically we've done that through a single app."
And, when Facebook or its app is second best to another service, pull out the checkbook — just like it did with Instagram and attempted to do with Snapchat. But whatever the future holds, one thing's pretty certain: that it will be a future in which Facebook continues to exist. After all only one third of the world's adult population has Internet access.
"We're looking forward to our next decade and to helping connect the rest of the world...It's been an amazing journey so far but what's ahead is even more exciting," said Zuckerberg.
Facebook by the numbers:
1.23 billion active monthly users
750 million active daily users
6 billion — number of 'likes' on an average day in December 2013
25 million — number of small and medium sized businesses with an active Facebook page or profile
200 million more users access Facebook daily via mobile than via desktop — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014