Social media has become such an entrenched part of our everyday lives that it is easy to take for granted how recent an invention it is. It may surprise you to know that social media was in its infancy in the late 1990s and came to fruition in the early 2000s. The first notable social media network, “Six Degrees” was founded in 1997 and the group of social media sites that we use today developed from there.
In this article, we explore the history of social media and how social media sites have developed into the platforms that we know and use today.
Six Degrees was founded in 1997 by Andrew Weinreich. The platform offered what by today’s standard can be considered to be basic functionality. Users were able to create profiles and ‘friend’ each other. The platform reached a peak of one million members between 1997 and 2001.
LiveJournal followed Six Degrees in 1999, offering a platform where users could maintain a blog and post a series of updates in order to stay up to date with their friends. In many ways this can be considered to be a very early form of a WordPress platform. This format was adopted by Facebook for their statuses feature.
Friendster emerged in 2002 as one of the first social media sites. Users of Friendster could contact other members, maintain contacts and share online content and media. It was considered to be one of the original full-function social networks.
LinkedIn was founded in 2003 as a business focused network. In its original form, it provided a platform where users could post their CV and private message other professionals. By 2004, LinkedIn had grown its user base to 1 million users. Today LinkedIn has over 500 million users and is the leading social media platform for professionals.
MySpace launched in 2003 and quickly became the most popular social network in the US during 2006. It offered a featured rich platform that is perhaps the most similar network to the networks that we now all use. The network included personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos.
In early 2004, Facebook was launched by the now famous Mark Zuckerberg. He created Facebook with his friends at Harvard. In its early form, the site was limited to Harvard students until it then extended into a network where students could connect with students from other US universities. Now Facebook boasts a user base of over 2 billion users and also includes a popular advertising platform, Facebook Ads.
Twitter launched in mid 2006, offering a new way to broadcast your story and thoughts to the world. Users were able to set up a profile with a bio and post tweets using hashtags. By 2010, Twitter had grown to a stage where 65 million tweets per day were being sent out on the platform.
Instagram was founded in late 2010 as a photo sharing app that was available exclusively on iOS. Users could upload photos and videos and apply various filters. The photos and videos can be organised by hashtags and location information.
In 2011 Snapchat, an image messaging app, launched. The app has developed significantly to include features such as stories which have been used by brands to reach the younger generation. The app has become particularly popular among teenagers who use it to communicate with their friends and interact with content created by brands.
Social media has continually evolved since the late 1990s, coinciding with a desire for an ever more connected world. However, recent data protection breaches and data privacy worries have been a cause for concern for many users, especially those who are older and inexperienced.
Free-to-use platforms have to generate revenue in order to survive. Many social media platforms choose to do so with advertising, which can undermine user privacy and result in an interface that is dominated by intrusive adverts.
We believe that social media can and should be different. Our platform prioritises security, safety and privacy.
Link-ages was founded in 2017 as a group of apps that are designed with older people in mind. The group of apps consist of Link-ages Hub; the app for older and inexperienced users, Link-ages Go; the app rest of the family and Link-ages Shadow; our optional companion app. Our apps are different from traditional social media networks as they are based on a subscription model that protects the privacy of its users and delivers a platform that is entirely ad-free. By charging a small subscription fee for our apps, we do not need to allow advertising in our apps or sell on customer information.
Our founder, Fiona Willis, is passionate about helping older people make the most of the opportunities that being online can offer. She created the concept of a group of apps that create a private, safe and secure network where older people can communicate with their family and friends.
The apps have been developed extensively in the last year with features including video calling, picture sharing, resizable tiles and a digital diary being added. Earlier this year, Link-ages Hub was made available for Android devices, making our apps accessible on the two leading app platforms, iOS and Android.