The History of Social Media Since 2003

October 11, 2023

By [email protected] (Lindsay Kolowich Cox)

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Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since Facebook was founded? Perhaps many of you feel like it was just yesterday when “friend” was a noun.

The same goes for YouTube, which made video accessibility and shareability online as simple as can be. And Twitter, for that matter — sponsored tweets have only been around since 2010!

It’s interesting to look back at these iconic moments in the last 20+ years of social media. In this post, we’ll go over a complete timeline of social media history and what each network’s usage stats look like now.

Table of Contents

What is the history of social media?

The history of social media is characterized by constant innovation, technological advancements, and transformation.

The Early Years

The early years of social media (1970s – 1990s) laid the foundational elements of the platforms we know today.

  • 1971 – Ray Tomlinson sent the first email, marketing the beginning of modern electronic mail.
  • 1978 – The Bulletin Board System (BBS) is introduced, allowing users to upload and download software and data, read news online, and exchange messages with people in online communities.
  • 1985 – America Online (AOL) is founded, and it lets users communicate online via email and messaging.
  • 1997 – Six Degrees is launched, and it’s one of the first recognizable social media platforms compared to those. Users could create profiles, make friends, and send messages.
  • 1999 – Livejournal became available, allowing people to share information about themselves with friends and other users. It’s one of the earliest blogging platforms and is still operational in 2023.

Birth of The Original Social Networks

What followed the first wave of “social networks” are the platforms we know today, or the initial stages and first versions of those we use today. Friendster, founded in 2002, is one of the first. It lets users connect with friends, share pictures, and discover new content. A steady stream of platforms followed.

  • 2003 – LinkedIn is launched as a professional networking platform that connects people in a business context.
  • 2003 – Myspace is introduced to the world as a platform for customizable profiles, music sharing, and blogging. It became the largest social media platform when it was in its prime.
  • 2004 – Facebook, originally for Harvard students, was founded. Users connected with their friends and shared their thoughts. Facebook is now the world’s most popular social networking platform, with 2.9 billion monthly active users. The image below is what the …read more

    Source:: HubSpot Blog