From Myspace to Elon and Twitter: A rundown of social media’s history

A social media timeline

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, s

The social media world has been set ablaze after Elon Musk purchased the Twitter platform last year for $44 billion.

That’s one massive figure. A number that can make one forget about how far social media has come.

In light of the billion dollar acquisition anniversary, here’s a quick rundown of social media’s history, from the humble beginnings to the billion-dollar industry it has become:

Credited with being the first social media site is back in 1997. The name is essentially what it sounds like, the theory that the world is connected to everyone else by no more than six degrees of separation.

The original social site set the groundwork for having a list of “connections,” signing up with an email address, and having messaging between users.


Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams holds up a promotional shirt (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Friendster was the first challenger to the social media game, taking on Six Degrees, in 2001. Friendster originally had more of a dating spin attached to it, which would help set up people with friends in common. Status and mood updates became a thing with Friendster.


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How the story goes is that Friendster got too popular and couldn’t handle all the internet traffic. Enter Myspace, who could, and did handle every social media need for years starting in 2003.

Everyone remembers their first friend: Tom from Myspace. Profile music and a “top eight” of friends became a thing as well.

The site still operates today but isn’t nearly as popular.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Staff

Still around the center of our world today, Facebook… or “The Facebook” began in 2004. It was started as a site exclusive to students at Harvard, then college students, and then it eventually exploded in 2006 when… essentially anyone over the age of 13 could join. It surpassed Myspace in 2008 in terms of page visits.

The 2010 film “The Social Network” made the inner workings and background of the social media company very public, including some behind the scenes work of the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg. Although the film’s accuracy is open for debate.


(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Technically LinkedIn began in 2002 before Facebook–eventually they took off after Facebook and Myspace’s popularity did as LinkedIn became known as the “Myspace for adults.”

To this day… it’s still that.


(Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

The year 2006 saw YouTube bring videos to the small (computer) screen. The first ever YouTube video named “Me at the zoo” sure is something. Now a video of… almost anything can be found on YouTube.


(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Elon’s soon-to-be baby in Twitter broke into the game as Twttr in 2006. It was originally designed to give text-message like updates between friends, which has since turned into the ultra news focused site we know it as now– the 2016 elections helped there. Eventually expanding to over 140 characters along with the hashtag invention in 2007 were influential as well.


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In 2010, Instagram was launched. It almost instantly blew up and separated itself as essentially a smartphone-only app based on photo sharing. It became so popular so fast that by 2012, Facebook owned Instagram.


(Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Another app that saw photos lead the way was Snapchat. This time, the exclusivity was for the lack of time you could see the image as any snap sent would eventually disappear forever after a certain amount of time.


(Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

The shift from photos to smartphone videos began in 2016 with TikTok. But the outlet really took off when it left China and hit the global market just in the past two years.

Prior to TikTok, the foundation was laid by others such as Snapchat and Instagram allowing video “stories” to be posted. China also was in the social media game with Weibo in 2009 when the country banned Facebook and Twitter that same year. Weibo was ironically enough called a Facebook-Twitter hybrid.

Story originally appeared on List Wire