Timeline of social media
This page is a timeline of social media. Major launches, milestones, and other major events are included.
|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. 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. 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.|
|1972||Invention||The discrete cosine transform (DCT) compression technique is proposed by Nasir Ahmed. It has since become the most widely used data compression algorithm on social media, enabling the practical transmission and streaming of digital media. It is the basis for most media compression standards, including digital image formats such as JPEG (1992), video coding formats such as H.26x (1988 onwards) and MPEG (1993 onwards), and audio compression standards such as Dolby Digital (1991) and MP3 (1994).|
|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.|
|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.|
|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. 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.|
|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.|
|1996||Launch||ICQ is released by Israeli company Mirabilis.|
|1996||Launch||Bolt.com was started as the first social networking and video website.[circular reference]|
|1997||Launch, Milestone||Social networking website SixDegrees.com is created.|
|1997||Launch||AOL Instant Messenger is released.|
|1998||Launch||Open Diary launches the first social blogging network, inventing the reader comment and friends-only content.|
|1998||Acquisition||ICQ is acquired by AOL, and the service is patented.|
|1999||Acquisition||SixDegrees.com is purchased by YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million.|
|1999||Launch||Yahoo! Messenger, another popular instant messaging service, launches.|
|1999||Launch||MSN Messenger (also known as Windows Live Messenger), a popular messaging, video and voice calling service, launches.|
|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.|
|2001||Launch||BlackPlanet, 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.|
|2003||Launch||Business-oriented social networking service LinkedIn launches.|
|2003||Launch||Social networking website Hi5 launches.|
|2003||Launch||Another business-oriented social networking website, XING, launches. This service is more popular in Europe.|
|2003||Launch||Myspace, one of the most popular social networking sites ever, launches.|
|2003||Launch||Skype, a very popular instant messaging and video/voice calling service (VoIP), launches.|
|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.|
|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).|
|2004||Launch||Orkut, a social networking website owned by Google, launches.|
|2004||Launch||Tagged, a social discovery website, launches.|
|2005||Launch||Bebo, a social networking website, launches.|
|2005||Acquisition||Myspace is acquired by News Corporation for $580 million.|
|2005||Launch||Qzone, a Chinese social networking website, launches.|
|2005||Launch||Reddit, an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website, launches.|
|2005||Launch||Renren, a Chinese social networking website, launches.|
|2005||Acquisition||Yahoo! acquires Flickr.|
|2005||Launch||Facebook launches its photos feature with no restrictions on storage (but without the ability to tag friends).|
|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.|
|2006||Launch||Twitter, one of the most popular social networking sites worldwide, launches. This website was very popular in Brazil and India.|
|2006||Launch||VK (VKontakte), an extremely popular Russian-based social networking service that resembles Facebook, launches. This service is very popular in Europe.|
|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.|
|2007||Launch||Tumblr, a popular microblogging and social networking website, launches.|
|2007||Launch||FriendFeed, a real-time social media feed aggregator, launches.|
|2007||Launch||Justin.tv, a live-streaming that allowed anyone to broadcast video online, launches.|
|2008||Acquisition||AOL buys Bebo for $850 million.|
|2009||Acquisition||FriendFeed is acquired by Facebook for $15 million in cash, and $32.5 million in stock.|
|2009||Launch||Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, launches.|
|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.|
|2010||Acquisition||AOL sells ICQ to Mail.Ru (formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies) for $185 million.|
|2010||Acquisition||Bebo is sold by AOL to Criterion Capital Partners.|
|2010||Launch||Instagram, a photo/video sharing and social media service, launches.|
|2010||Launch||Path, a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices, launches.|
|2010||Launch||Quora, a popular question-and-answer platform, launches.|
|2011||Launch||Snapchat, a photo/video sharing and social media service, launches.|
|2011||Acquisition||Microsoft acquires Skype Technologies for $8.5 billion.|
|2011||Launch||Google+, a social networking service, launches.|
|2011||Launch||Keek, a video sharing and social media service, launches.|
|2011||Acquisition||Myspace is sold to Specific Media by News Corp. for $35 million.|
|2011||Launch||LinkedIn files for an IPO and trades its first shares under the NYSE symbol "LNKD", at $45 per share.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|2012||Launch||Snapchat launches video sharing, allowing users to share 10 second videos.|
|2012||Launch||Tinder, a widely popular dating-oriented social networking service, launches.|
|2012||Acquisition||Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.|
|2013||Launch, Acquisition||Vine, a widely popular video sharing and social media service, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter for $30 million.|
|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.|
|2013||Launch||Instagram launches video sharing.|
|2013||Acquisition||Bebo is purchased from Criterion Capitol Partners for $1 million by Bebo's founders.|
|2013||Launch||Instant messaging and video/voice calling service Google Hangouts launches.|
|2013||Launch *||Myspace re-launches, coming out with a re-designed website, and a mobile app.|
|2014||Defunction||Justin.tv shuts downs to focus work on Twitch.|
|2014||Launch||Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app, launches.|
|2014||Launch||Snapchat launches collaborative timelines based on events.|
|2014||Acquisition||Amazon acquires Twitch for $970 million.|
|2014||Defunction||Orkut is shut down by Google.|
|2015||Defunction, Milestone||Friendster shuts down due to "the evolving landscape in our challenging industry" and lack of engagement by the online community.|
|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.|
|2015||Launch, Acquisition||Periscope, a live video sharing app, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter.|
|2015||Launch *||Bebo re-launches as a messaging app for iOS and Android.|
|2015||Launch||Beme, a short video sharing app, launches. The creators are Casey Neistat and Matt Hackett.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|2016||Acquisition||Time Inc. buys Myspace and its parent company.|
|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.|
|2016||Defunction||Vine announced that Twitter would be discontinuing the Vine mobile app, later renamed to "Vine Camera".|
|2016||Acquisition||CNN acquires Beme, with the terms of acquisition remaining undisclosed.|
|2017||Acquisition||ByteDance acquires Musical.ly for $1 billion.|
|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.|
|2017||Launch||TikTok, a short video sharing and social media service, launches.|
|2017||Launch||Co–Star, an astrological social networking service, launches.|
|2017||Defunction||Beme shuts down on January 31, following its acquisition by CNN in 2016.|
|2018||Defunction||Yahoo! Messenger shuts down on July 17, 2018.|
|2018||Defunction||Musical.ly shuts down and migrates its users to TikTok.|
|2018||Defunction||Path announces the termination of its service on September 17, 2018. Its closure takes place nearly a month later, on October 18, 2018.|
|2018||Launch||Parler launches, billing itself as an unbiased and free speech alternative to larger social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.[circular reference]|
|2019||Defunction||Google+ shuts down in April 2019 due to low user engagement and an API flaw.|
|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".[circular reference]|
|2020||Launch||Clubhouse, an audio-chat social networking app, launches.|
(*) Such launches are not initial launches, but rather re-launches.
- Timeline of Facebook
- Timeline of Instagram
- Timeline of LinkedIn
- Timeline of Pinterest
- Timeline of Snapchat
- Timeline of Twitter
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