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From Dorm to Dominance: Growing Pains as Facebook Turns 15


FILE - The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters is seen in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook, trudging through its awkward teenage years, is turning 15 on Monday.

Launched in 2004 as "TheFacebook," the service was originally intended only for Harvard students. It's now a massive global business that connects some 2.3 billion users. It was born in an era of desktop computers, years before the iPhone, and ran no ads.

At the time it was impossible to imagine that someday countries like Russia and Iran would try to use it for sophisticated information operations in order to influence elections around the world.

FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy, April 11, 2018.
FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy, April 11, 2018.

In 2004, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's biggest problem may have been almost getting kicked out of Harvard. Zuckerberg's 2019 worries include the threat of government regulation of the empire he has built and the gnawing possibility that despite its stated lofty goals around connecting people and building community, Facebook may not be good for the world.

Today, it's hard to take a subway in New York or a tram in Budapest, Hungary without overhearing the word "Facebook" or "Instagram" in conversation or seeing their apps open on passenger phones. The social network has transformed the world, for better and for worse, and its effect will be debated for years.

Here are some numbers that give an idea of Facebook's past, present and future:

  • Number of monthly users as of Dec. 31, 2018: 2.32 billion
  • Number of daily users as of this date: 1.5 billion
  • Number of people in the world with internet access: 3.9 billion
  • Year Facebook reached 1 billion users: 2012
  • Number of users affected by the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal: up to 87 million
  • 2018 revenue: $55 billion
  • 2018 profit: $22 billion
  • Number of employees in 2018: 35,587
  • Number of employees in 2004: About 7
  • Year the iPhone launched: 2007
  • Year Facebook launched its iPhone app: 2008
  • Year Facebook bought Instagram: 2012
  • Money it paid to buy it: $1 billion
  • Money it paid to buy WhatsApp a year later: $19 billion
  • Amount Facebook spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2018: $12.6 million
  • Amount it spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2010: $259,507
  • Initial public offering stock price on May 18, 2012: $38
  • Lowest stock price, reached on Sept. 4, 2012: $17.55
  • Highest stock price, reached on July 25, 2018: $218.62
  • Market value Facebook lost the next day , a stock market record: $119 billion
  • Kuwait's GDP: $120 billion
  • Mark Zuckerberg's net worth as of Friday: $62.4 billion
  • Date he said the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced elections was "pretty crazy": Nov. 10, 2016
  • Date he wrote on Facebook he regrets saying that: Sept. 27, 2017
  • Number of hours Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018 on election interference, privacy and other issues: 10
  • Number of followers he has on Facebook: 119 million
  • Number of kids he has: 2

Sources: Facebook, International Telecommunications Union, Forbes, FactSet, lobbying disclosure forms

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