Timeline: Social Media

Key dates in the evolution and increasing influence of social media

by Jennie Wood
2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 Present
May 1
Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, launches.

StumbleUpon, a website that recommends web content to its users, begins.
March 22
Friendster, considered the granddaddy of social networks, launches.

Technorati, a search engine for blogs, goes live.
LinkedIn begins. LinkedIn strives to be known as a business-related social networking site used by professionals from its inception.

May 23
Wordpress, a publishing platform that hosts blogs, is released.
Myspace is launched.

January 4
Google begins Gmail.

Flickr, an image and video hosting website, goes live.

March 1
Facebook, a social networking service which began at Harvard, expands to other universities.

Yelp, a social networking site where users can review local businesses, begins.

December 5
DIGG, a social news website, goes live.

December 30
Facebook reaches one million members.
Youtube, a video-sharing website, goes live.

Mashable, a news website and blog, goes live.

September 2
Facebook becomes available to high schools in the United States.

October 1
Facebook becomes available in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Myspace becomes the most popular social networking site in the United States.

July 15
Twitter, a website for mini-blogging and social networking, begins.

September 5
Facebook launches its news feed feature to a mixed reaction. Users are not used to their every move being tracked in one general stream.

September 10
Google acquires Youtube.

October 4
WikiLeaks, which publishes submissions from anonymous sources, begins.
March 1
Facebook reaches one million active users in the UK.

StumbleUpon is acquired by eBay.

May 24
Facebook starts allowing developers to use the site as a platform for games and widgets, leading to the success of popular games such as Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz, and Mafia Wars.

July 29
Apple releases the iPhone in the United States. iPhone users can access social media sites and apps through their phone.
Facebook becomes the most popular social networking site, surpassing Myspace which had been in first place since June 2006.

Facebook Connect is revealed. Facebook Connect enables users to log onto third-party websites, applications, gaming systems, and mobile devices.

July 4
TweetDeck begins. TweetDeck is a desktop application for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, and other social networking sites.

October 7
The App store opens via iTunes.

Twitter becomes the third-highest-ranking social networking site. Its previous ranking was 22.

March 11
Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, goes live.

June 25
When Michael Jackson dies, Twitter servers crash after users send 100,000 tweets per hour.

July 14
The book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal is released. The book is later adapted into a movie, The Social Network.

Wordpress reaches 202 million users.

Flicker hosts more than 4 billion images.
Twitter users are sending 50 million tweets per day.

Facebook now delivers more than half of all U.S. social medial referral traffic

May 10
Google Wave, a web-based platform designed to merge email and social networking, is released to the general public. By the end of 2010, Google would hand it over to the Apache Software Foundation.

Twitter users are sending 65 million tweets per day, roughly 750 tweets per second.

July 6
Lady Gaga becomes the first living person to have 10 million friends on Facebook. She is second overall only to Michael Jackson who has 14 million friends.

July 21
Facebook reaches 500 million active users. The site reaches the mark less than 18 months after it hit the 200 million active user mark.

October 1
The Social Network, a film about Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerburg, opens in movie theaters in the United States.

October 26
Lady Gaga becomes the first person to receive one billion overall views on YouTube.

WikiLeaks begins releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.
January 28
Egypt shuts off all internet access in an effort to contain activists from organizing protests which threaten to end the reign of President Hosni Mubarak. The block is temporary and does not put an end to the protests.

Social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook help activists organize an uprising in Egypt. The trend of using social networking websites to organize protests and demonstrations continues throughout 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa. Various governments attempt to shut down social media and internet access to crackdown on protest movements throughout 2011 to varying degrees of success.

February 22
An Egyptian baby is named Facebook to honor the role that social media played in Egypt's revolution.

WikiLeaks begins publishing files on Guantanamo Bay detainees.

August 11
The British Parliament considers turning off social networking sites. Protesters use social networking sites to organize violent riots throughout the country. After exploring whether it is right or even possible to cut off social networking sites in England, the government decides not to do so.

August 19
StumbleUpon surpasses Facebook as the site that delivers more than half of all U.S. social media traffic.

August 22
A teacher in Missouri sues the state over what has become known as the Facebook law. The new state law prevents teachers from contacting students through non-work related websites. The teacher's lawsuit argues that the new law makes it illegal for her to chat with her own child over Facebook.
April 15
Social media becomes a major source of information about the Boston Marathon bombing. It is the first major terrorist attack in the U.S. during the age of Facebook, Twitter and smartphones. Many Americans receive news of the bombing and search for clues about the suspects on social media. Several anonymous posters name people online who they believe are involved in the bombing. Once the suspects are identified, investigators look at the suspects' Facebook accounts for evidence and clues for motives behind the bombing.

April 24
A retired police detective's Facebook post provides authorities with a lead to the driver involved in a 1968 hit-and-run death. Douglas Parkhurst has been identified via Facebook as the driver of the car that did not stop after hitting a four-year-old girl in upstate New York on Halloween night in 1968. Police have been following hundreds of leads, but the break comes when retired police detective Russ Johnson posts information about the case. A former resident of the area in New York where the crime happened sees Johnson's post and comes forward with the information that leads the police to Parkhurst.
January 16
For the first time ever, a trial based on alleged defamation via twitter begins. Attorney Rhonda Holmes is suing her former client, rock musician and actress Courtney Love over a tweet in which Love claimed that Holmes had been “bought off” in a case related to the estate of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana singer and Love’s deceased husband. The case is being referred to as the Twibel trial and could have major legal implications for any Twitter user. The Los Angeles Superior Court has already rejected an argument by Love’s lawyers that language on Twitter should be interpreted differently than if the same words are used in a more formal setting. This is the first trial of its kind, but the second time Love has been sued over her tweets. Three years ago, a fashion designer filed a lawsuit against Love over a series of insulting tweets. However, that case never went to trial because Love settled out of court for $430,000. The following week, the jury votes in favor of Courtney Love. After only three hours of deliberation, the jury rules that Love's 2010 tweet suggesting that her attorney had been "bought off" was not defamatory.

April 14
Islamist militant group Boko Haram is accused of kidnapping about 280 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria with the intention of making the girls sex slaves. The mass kidnapping—and the government's inept attempts to rescue them—sparks international outrage and anti-government protests in Nigeria. A social media campaign helps increase news coverage of the kidnappings and puts pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to take action against Boko Haram.

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