Timeline of social media

This page is a timeline of social media. Major launches, milestones, and other major events are included.


Decade Description
1970s–1980s The PLATO system (developed at the University of Illinois and subsequently commercially marketed by Control Data Corporation) offers early forms of social media with Notes, PLATO's message-forum application; TERM-talk, its instant-messaging feature; Talkomatic, perhaps the first online chat room; News Report, a crowd-sourced online newspaper, and blog; and Access Lists, enabling the owner of a notes file or other application to limit access to a certain set of users, for example, only friends, classmates, or co-workers. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea of Usenet in 1979 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and it was established in 1980.
1980s–1990s As operating systems with a graphical user interface, such as Windows and Mac OS, begin to emerge and gain popularity, this creates an environment that allows for early social media platforms to thrive and exist.

Bulletin board systems (BBS) and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) were popular during this time period, and IRC is still widely used today.[1][2] The WELL, established in 1985, is one of the oldest still-operating online communities. Its name is an acronym for "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, coined by Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog.

1990s–2000s Various notable social media platforms such as Myspace and Facebook are developed and released, and blogging begins to gain popularity. Instant messaging platforms such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Windows Live Messenger also become increasingly popular.[3] Wikipedia is launched in 2001.
2010s Many social media platforms that have remained are now thriving, and new ones are appearing sporadically. This includes popular blogs, instant messaging servers, and various social networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Snapchat, and Twitter.[4]

With advances in smartphone technology, almost all social media services now have their own mobile apps.[5]


Year Event type Description
1972 Invention The discrete cosine transform (DCT) compression technique is proposed by Nasir Ahmed.[6][7] It has since become the most widely used data compression algorithm on social media,[8][9] enabling the practical transmission and streaming of digital media.[7][10] It is the basis for most media compression standards,[10][11][12] including digital image formats such as JPEG (1992), video coding formats such as H.26x (1988 onwards) and MPEG (1993 onwards),[7] and audio compression standards such as Dolby Digital (1991)[13][14] and MP3 (1994).[7]
1973 Invention Talkomatic is created by Dave Woolley and Douglas Brown at the University of Illinois, as a multi-user chat room application. It is an instant sensation among users in the PLATO System's online community.
1973 Invention TERM-Talk is created by the staff at the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, as an instant-messaging application enabling any two users on the PLATO system to conduct a live, character-by-character typed conversation on the bottom of the screen of their PLTO terminals. Soon many features would be added to it including "Monitor Mode," enabling one user in the TERM-talk to share their own screen with the other user, to ask questions or point out something that they're seeing. Years later this concept would be introduced as "Screen Sharing" or Remote Desktop Software.
1973 Invention PLATO Notes is created by 17-year-old student Dave Woolley at the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, as a conferencing and bulletin board forum system for communicating with the user community. In 1976, Notes expanded to enable any user to create a "notesfile" on any subject. PLATO Notes would serve as the inspiration for Lotus Notes developed by former PLATO users Ray Ozzie, Len Kawell, and Tim Halvorsen.
1974 Invention ARPANET evolved into the Internet following the publication of the first Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specification, RFC 675 (Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program), written by Vint Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine.[15]
circa 1980 Milestone Bulletin Board System (BBS) emerges as one of the earliest known forms of social media, and remains popular and under development until the late 1990s.[16]
1984 Invention FidoNet forms as BBSs start to exchange email in North America and later internationally.
1988 Invention IRC rises from the roots of BBS (and was initially intended to extend it), offering a similar service and experience.[17][18] It has remained in use to this day.

An example of a popular IRC client today is mIRC.

1995 Launch Classmates, originally launched as a list of school affiliations, is launched in December 1995. The site, founded by Randy Conrads, later incorporated features to help former and current classmates find and contact each other online.[19]
1996 Launch The Swedish social networking website LunarStorm, originally called Stajlplejs, is launched in 1996. The site, founded by Rickard Eriksson, was renamed LunarStorm in 2000 and has been described as "the world's first social media on the Internet" by the founder.[20]
1996 Launch ICQ is released by Israeli company Mirabilis.[21]
1996 Launch Bolt.com was started as the first social networking and video website.[22][circular reference]
1997 Launch, Milestone Social networking website SixDegrees.com is created.[23]
1997 Launch AOL Instant Messenger is released.[21]
1998 Launch Open Diary launches the first social blogging network, inventing the reader comment and friends-only content.[24]
1998 Acquisition ICQ is acquired by AOL, and the service is patented.[25]
1999 Acquisition SixDegrees.com is purchased by YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million.[26]
1999 Launch Yahoo! Messenger, another popular instant messaging service, launches.[21]
1999 Launch MSN Messenger (also known as Windows Live Messenger), a popular messaging, video and voice calling service, launches.[21]
1999 Launch LiveJournal, an early blogging platform and social network launches.
2000 Launch Habbo, a game-based social networking site, launches.
2001 Defunction SixDegrees.com shuts down.[16]
2001 Launch BlackPlanet,[27] African-American Social Networking Service
2001 Launch, Invention Windows Messenger is released, and is shipped with Windows XP. This is an integrated version of MSN Messenger.
2002 Launch Social networking and gaming site Friendster launches. The service would be popular in Asia and the Pacific Islands.[28]
2003 Launch Business-oriented social networking service LinkedIn launches.[29]
2003 Launch Social networking website Hi5 launches.[4]
2003 Launch Another business-oriented social networking website, XING, launches. This service is more popular in Europe.[30]
2003 Launch Myspace, one of the most popular social networking sites ever, launches.[31]
2003 Launch Skype, a very popular instant messaging and video/voice calling service (VoIP), launches.[32]
2004 Launch, Milestone Facebook, the most popular social networking service to-date, launches. It now features a voice and video calling service, as well as a widely used instant messaging service.[33]
2004 Launch Flickr, an image and video hosting website, launches. Many users use Flickr to keep personal photos, and it is also widely used as a platform for hosting images and videos that are later embedded in other websites and services (such as blogs).[34]
2004 Launch Orkut, a social networking website owned by Google, launches.[35]
2004 Launch Tagged, a social discovery website, launches.[4]
2005 Launch Bebo, a social networking website, launches.[36]
2005 Acquisition Myspace is acquired by News Corporation for $580 million.[37]
2005 Launch Qzone, a Chinese social networking website, launches.[38]
2005 Launch Reddit, an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website, launches.[39]
2005 Launch Renren, a Chinese social networking website, launches.[40]
2005 Acquisition Yahoo! acquires Flickr.[41]
2005 Launch Facebook launches its photos feature with no restrictions on storage (but without the ability to tag friends).[42]
2006 Launch DetroitCity, DetroitCity was launched in June 2006 The first social networking site focused on a local area. Features included profiles for people, artists and venues. Music upload, streaming local music, free analytics for artists and businesses and customizable news widgets for importing local feeds.[citation needed]
2006 Launch Twitter, one of the most popular social networking sites worldwide, launches. This website was very popular in Brazil and India.[43]
2006 Launch VK (VKontakte), an extremely popular Russian-based social networking service that resembles Facebook, launches. This service is very popular in Europe.[44]
2006 Launch Facebook launches News Feed. The original news feed is an algorithmically generated and constantly refreshing summary of updates about the activities of one's friends.[45]
2007 Launch Tumblr, a popular microblogging and social networking website, launches.[46]
2007 Launch FriendFeed, a real-time social media feed aggregator, launches.[47]
2007 Launch Justin.tv, a live-streaming that allowed anyone to broadcast video online, launches.[48]
2008 Acquisition AOL buys Bebo for $850 million.[37]
2009 Acquisition FriendFeed is acquired by Facebook for $15 million in cash, and $32.5 million in stock.[49]
2009 Launch Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, launches.[50]
2010 Launch Pinterest, a photo-sharing website, launches. This service allows users to submit images or "pins", then other users can "pin" them on personalized "pinboards". Users can then comment on each other's content and interact with it.[51]
2010 Acquisition AOL sells ICQ to Mail.Ru (formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies) for $185 million.[52]
2010 Acquisition Bebo is sold by AOL to Criterion Capital Partners.[53]
2010 Launch Instagram, a photo/video sharing and social media service, launches.[54]
2010 Launch Path, a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices, launches.[55]
2010 Launch Quora, a popular question-and-answer platform, launches.[56]
2011 Launch Snapchat, a photo/video sharing and social media service, launches.[57]
2011 Acquisition Microsoft acquires Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion.[58]
2011 Launch Google+, a social networking service, launches.[59]
2011 Launch Keek, a video sharing and social media service, launches.[60]
2011 Acquisition Myspace is sold to Specific Media by News Corp. for $35 million.[61]
2011 Launch LinkedIn files for an IPO and trades its first shares under the NYSE symbol "LNKD", at $45 per share.[62]
2011 Launch Twitch, a live-streaming service that is popular worldwide, launches. This service is a spin-off from Justin.tv, as it is more focused on broadcasting users playing video games.[63]
2011 Launch Twitter overhauls its website to feature the "Fly" design, which the service says is easier for new users to follow and promotes advertising. In addition to the Home tab, the Connect and Discover tabs are introduced along with a redesigned profile and timeline of Tweets.[64]
2012 Launch, Milestone Facebook goes public, negotiating a share price of $38 apiece, valuing the company at $104 billion, the largest valuation to date for a newly listed public company.[65]
2012 Launch Snapchat launches video sharing, allowing users to share 10 second videos.[66]
2012 Launch Tinder, a widely popular dating-oriented social networking service, launches.[67]
2012 Acquisition Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.[68]
2013 Launch, Acquisition Vine, a widely popular video sharing and social media service, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter for $30 million.[69][70]
2013 Launch Twitter files for its IPO, and begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The share closed at $44.90, giving the company a valuation of around $31 billion.[71]
2013 Launch Instagram launches video sharing.[72]
2013 Acquisition Bebo is purchased from Criterion Capitol Partners for $1 million by Bebo's founders.[73]
2013 Launch Instant messaging and video/voice calling service Google Hangouts launches.[74]
2013 Launch * Myspace re-launches, coming out with a re-designed website, and a mobile app.[75]
2014 Defunction Justin.tv shuts downs to focus work on Twitch.[76]
2014 Launch Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app, launches.[77]
2014 Launch Snapchat launches collaborative timelines based on events.[78][79]
2014 Acquisition Amazon acquires Twitch for $970 million.[80]
2014 Defunction Orkut is shut down by Google.[81]
2015 Defunction, Milestone Friendster shuts down due to "the evolving landscape in our challenging industry" and lack of engagement by the online community.[82]
2015 Launch Pinterest announces the launch of Buyable Pins, a special type of pin that can be used to make purchases within Pinterest itself. When users select a Buyable Pin, they have the option of choosing the item they wish to buy (for instance, choosing between different dress sizes and colors), and they can then make the purchase within the app using a variety of payment methods, including Apple Pay. Launch partners include Shopify and Demandware. The buyable pins are free to use, and Pinterest does not take a cut of the purchases made. However, Pinterest intends to allow sellers to promote buyable pins just as they can promote other pins.[83][84][85]
2015 Launch, Acquisition Periscope, a live video sharing app, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter.[86]
2015 Launch * Bebo re-launches as a messaging app for iOS and Android.[87][88]
2015 Launch Beme, a short video sharing app, launches. The creators are Casey Neistat and Matt Hackett.[89]
2015 Launch Discord, a free instant messaging and video/voice calling service (VoIP) designed for the gaming community, launches
2015 Launch Meerkat, an application similar to Periscope, launches.[90]
2016 Launch Triller, a video editing app, is converted into a social networking service by allowing users to follow each other and share their videos publicly.[91]
2016 Acquisition Microsoft says it will be acquiring LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and is expected to finalize the deal by the end of 2016.[92][93]
2016 Acquisition Time Inc. buys Myspace and its parent company.[94]
2016 Defunction, Milestone Yahoo! discontinues its services for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris clients in early August 2016. It will now only support Yahoo! Messenger on Android, iOS, and web clients.[95]
2016 Defunction Vine announced that Twitter would be discontinuing the Vine mobile app, later renamed to "Vine Camera".[96]
2016 Acquisition CNN acquires Beme, with the terms of acquisition remaining undisclosed.[97]
2017 Acquisition ByteDance acquires Musical.ly for $1 billion.[98]
2017 Milestone Snapchat files for its IPO, and begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The share closed at $24.48, giving the company a valuation of around $33 billion.[99]
2017 Launch TikTok, a short video sharing and social media service, launches.[100]
2017 Launch Co–Star, an astrological social networking service, launches.[101]
2017 Defunction Beme shuts down on January 31, following its acquisition by CNN in 2016.[102][97]
2018 Defunction Yahoo! Messenger shuts down on July 17, 2018.[103]
2018 Defunction Musical.ly shuts down and migrates its users to TikTok.[104]
2018 Defunction Path announces the termination of its service on September 17, 2018.[105] Its closure takes place nearly a month later, on October 18, 2018.[105]
2018 Launch Parler launches, billing itself as an unbiased and free speech alternative to larger social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.[106][circular reference]
2019 Defunction Google+ shuts down in April 2019 due to low user engagement and an API flaw.[107][108][109]
2020 Defunction Parler is shut down on all major service providers including Google, Apple, and Amazon due to the lack of "moderation policies and enforcement" posing a "public safety threat".[110][circular reference]
2020 Launch Clubhouse, an audio-chat social networking app, launches.[111]

(*) Such launches are not initial launches, but rather re-launches.

See also


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