To commemorate the fifth birthday of Facebook, the ultimate social networking site, here are five reasons it has changed the face of Internet communication forever.
1) Facebook created the definitive social networking experience.
In a world where most of our daily communication comes in the form of e-mail, IMs, and other Internet-based methods, Facebook has fused these elements in one package. With more than 150 million active users, Facebook is, quite simply, where it's at. It has e-mail; it has IM; it has Twitter-infused status updates; it has everything one needs to find and reconnect with old high school buddies, make new friends, and build a cohesive online community.
Facebook is used by businesses, non-profit organizations -- even presidents. Practically everyone who values connectivity in this high-tech world of disembodied communication has latched onto Facebook as a central hub for engagement.
2) It has a streamlined, smooth interface.
Facebook's overhaul of its popular user interface caused quite a stir when it debuted. Groups gathered, hoping 1 million angry shouts would restore the look. Months later, people have accepted the alteration and no one has really made a cohesive argument for its original state for some time.
But what's most important about Facebook's interface is that it's easy to use, and relatively difficult to get lost within. Tabs guide users through the variety of posted items, and an iPhone app makes it easy to log in on the go. Put frankly, it's beautiful in its simplicity.
3) It gave users an alternative to its crappy cousin, MySpace.
MySpace is a mess; it's like an HTML epileptic fit. Besides its reputation for being the stomping ground of sexual predators and its rather filthy casual sex underpinnings (it's not nicknamed MeatSpace for nothing), MySpace complicated social networking with its failed ambitions. Everything MySpace has tried to do to separate itself as a different entity -- namely MySpace Music -- has been met with failure and criticism.
Facebook took a different approach and focused on the core of its raison d'etre: social networking. Though Facebook accomplishes much more than that, its basic content stands alone.
4) It's a hub for education and student communication.
Schools and publishing companies flock to Facebook as a way to connect students with other students. Through study groups, help guides, and other forms of student interaction generally relegated to different sites spread all over the Web, Facebook has proven to be a successful and effective catalyst for student success.
Sure, Facebook is a huge time-suck, and probably distracts more students from cracking books than motivates them, but when it does push students towards achievement, it wins.
5) Great apps.
The death of Scrabulous shocked the Facebook nation. People had grown so accustomed to logging in and playing an alternate version of Hasbro's Scrabble that when it disappeared, it was sorely missed. Thankfully it returned as Lexulous, and Hasbro has implemented its own fantastic iteration called -- wait for it -- Scrabble.
But it was the moment that Scrabulous died that signified how important and cherished Facebook apps are to users. They're easy to install, fun to use, and a great way to pass the time.
In just five short years, Facebook has become a household name for communication. It has captured the minds and hearts of a generation and turned into a phenomenon unlike what its creators could have expected. So three cheers for Facebook, and to another great five years.