Facebook is a social networking website owned by Facebook, Inc and based in California. In 2004 it was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, then a student at Harvard University, and was initially only for Harvard students, before expanding to other Ivy League colleges, then institutions worldwide, until finally opening to anyone aged 13 or over in 2007.
Facebook's system allows users to join networks of people organized by region, workplace or educational institution. It also allows membership of 'groups' on virtually any topic. The site is a popular resource for political campaigning and activism as well as for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues.
There has been some controversy surrounding Facebook's founding. In 2008, it was sued by the founders of ConnectU, for whom Zuckerberg had done work in college. In 2010, it was sued by Paul Ceglia, who claimed to own 84% of Zuckerberg's shares. This controversy was detailed in the acclaimed 2010 film The Social Network.
In 2007, the social networking research Danah Boyd published research claiming that the difference between users of Facebook and MySpace is a one of class. Boyd describes Facebook users as being primarily:
goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids... from families who emphasize education and going to college... primarily white, but not exclusively... in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities
Boyd compares this to MySpace:
MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.
In the context of the U.S. military, Boyd reports that "Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook". Elsewhere, Boyd has described MySpace as being "the ghetto of the digital landscape", the move by middle-class white teenagers from MySpace to Facebook as "a modern incarnation of White Flight", and the structural division along class lines of the two sites as dangerous and a potential breeding ground for intolerance and lack of understanding.
- Bob Van Voris, Lawyer `Unsure' Whether Founder Mark Zuckerberg Signed Contract, Bloomberg
- Danah Boyd, Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
- Gillian Reagan, In the Battle Between Facebook and MySpace, A Digital 'White Flight', The New York Observer