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A Retrospective of Facebook's Climb to the Top and its Current Position (Chart)

Researchers at the Visual Capitalist have recently mapped Facebook's prevalence and footprint on the world from 2008-2020. In lieu of that, let's discuss the results of such mapping, while taking a look back at the company's roots and where it stands now.

It's rather funny, and offers much testament to Facebook's resilience, that many social media services from back in the day are either decrepit or have simple vanished. Does anyone remember MySpace, for example? Or Friendster, even. Most of our current youth will scratch their heads at such names (they're also very lucky to have never encountered the ear-shattering sounds of internet connection in the 90's). But Facebook's still a household name, hosting people from all different walks of life.

2008 came as a wave for the social media apps, sweeping the well-established competition. An article by TechCrunch ranked Facebook second in the top most visited media sites of that year at an impressive 200 million visitors, only topped by Blogger. By early 2009, it had more or less carved a throne as the most popular social media site. And to think all of this derived from the drunken development of FaceMash.

Starting off 2020, over a decade later, the app was labelled the most popular social media platform across 151 of the 167 countries from whom data was compiled. The company's also seen a sharp trajectory upwards, as it went on to acquire many other brands under its wing. WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus quickly became subsidiaries of Facebook, and the company's profits kept marching up. The company's own estimates 40% of the Earth's population uses social media owned by the company.

Seems like the perfect underdog tale, no? A scrawny, down on his luck teenager goes on to put in his all, resulting in a multimillionaire platform. Well, there's an epilogue. And it's not as pretty as the closing chapters.

Facebook's seen rather rough terrain in recent years. Even if we retract the occasional bans and outages it gets in countries such as Iran or India, there's China to consider. A very large marketplace, which was completely barred to the company in 2009. It's also failed to gain particular notoriety in Russia, where the US-based site never got any solid footing. These failures have only been compounded upon by the legal quandaries the company has encountered in its home turf. A congressional hearing, and a lawsuit regarding illegal monopolization by the FTC have gone a long way in striking Facebook's public perception.

Facebook's at the top of the social media world right now, with nothing but success over the last 12 years. However, will this recent stream of legal inquisition derail that incline? Only time will tell.


H/T: VC / VI.

Read next: The Evolution of Advertising Over the Past Four Decades (infographic)

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