Facebook started out as thefacebook.com, which was intended to be a social networking site for college students.
Originally, it was much more low-key than Myspace: A user needed an official school e-mail address to join. To a registered user, the interface worked somewhat similarly (a user could view everyone in his network, but would have to add friends from other networks to view their profiles). Because it came out in spring 2004, anyone who had graduated from college in 2003 or earlier was essentially forbidden from becoming a member, due to their lack of an official school account. Schools were also added piecemeal, so your friend might invite you to join, but find that your college wasn't in the site's database yet.
In 2006, regional, corporate and high school networks were established, leading to an outcry among college students, who felt that Facebook was becoming another MySpace; a counter-contingent appeared who disagreed. This outcry only intensified when the whole "official college e-mail address" thing was abolished later in the year and anyone with an e-mail address was allowed to join. The complaints later became Hilarious in Hindsight, as now it's MySpace that's trying to copy Facebook's every move, ever since it became Deader Than Disco.
As of 2012, Facebook remains one of the most popular (and actually still more low-key, it hasn't taken as much flak as whipping boy MySpace) networking sites out there. More and more sites are adding Facebook Like buttons on their pages, making it look as if it's taking over the Internet. It lacks most of Myspace's profile-customization options; no sparklies or rainbow-colored fonts allowed. This may be to the site's benefit, as this creates a more professional feeling. However, there are a huge number of applications that one can add to one's profile, for anything from horoscopes to celebrity-lookalike pictures.
There are also a number of entries for fictional characters, such as Michelle Dessler from 24.
Facebook's layout has gone through several major changes, each one triggering a mass epidemic of Ruined FOREVER. Ironically, each new update has people rushing to defend the old layout, deciding it was not so bad after all despite laying into that one prior. In addition to this, the media and some more tech-savvy members of the public have found a place to whip Facebook where it hurts the most: privacy. Over time, Facebook has implemented different levels of privacy for its user profiles (while urging people to use caution before posting any compromising photos or rants).
Facebook is home to a variety of third-party applications, including some rather addictive games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille. In fact, some individuals have Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of playing games.
A movie about the founding of Facebook, titled The Social Network, was released in 2010, directed by David Fincher, (Se7en, Fight Club) and written by Aaron Sorkin. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provided the soundtrack.
As with MySpace, the mere mention of Facebook in online forums and IRC channels can cause people to launch into long rants about why they don't use social networking sites.
It has led to the practice of "Facebook stalking"—looking at someone's profile, status updates and photo uploads to find out more about their lives (rather than, y'know, just talking to them directly). An especially useful tool if you either are curious about some stranger who has ninety-seven mutual friends, enjoy being a "detective", or are a Psycho Ex Boy-/Girlfriend (or, indeed, a thief, as Facebook offers great insight into when people are not at home, while also often giving enough information to find where that home is). Granted, however, it wouldn't be a concern if users simply didn't post this kind of info in the first place.
Facebook entered the stock market on May 18, 2012, at 11 a.m. EDT, under the abbreviation FB, with an IPO of about US$38 billion, which it broke even at the end of that day. Even after the purchase, Mark Zuckerberg has control over the entire company. This move has made him a multi-billionaire and he coincidentally married his longtime girlfriend in a secret wedding just days after. But Facebook also lost a lot of money due to the falling stocks, and a few lawsuits have happened that they'll need to deal with, in addition to an investigation by the U.S. Senate.
- Artifact Title: The term "facebook" once referred to printed directories that colleges hand out to students featuring everyone's photo and contact info -- essentially what Facebook originally aimed to imitate. Not so much now that it's open to the general public and has so many other features. Meanwhile, its massive popularity has caused a real-life inversion of this trope: Nobody would refer to such a publication as a "facebook" now (assuming they are even printed at all anymore).
- Banned in China: And Iran, Iraq, etc.
- Cloning Blues: There's a mass of clone scripts of this site out there.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Well, that's what some TV Tropes members seem to think of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO.
- It's still not so bad as MySpace, though.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Be warned that when you post even a slightly provocative picture on Facebook, there may be someone masturbating to it.
- Defictionalization: Samsung released a mobile device with a hard, tangible Facebook Like button on the keyboard.
- Flame War: Whether it's by commenting on other users' pages, trolling the walls of groups they don't like, or posting scathing rants on every conceivable subject, Facebook users are never at a loss for ways to start one.
- Food Porn: As on another major social networking site, people seem to feel an inexplicable urge to let the world know what they're eating for lunch (with pictures).
- GIFT: Mostly averted, since the site requires users to use their real names. But that doesn't stop some people from being Jerk Asses anyway—additionally, Facebook isn't always that vigilant, so a few users can slip past the sensors using fake names and cause trouble.
- Happiness Is Mandatory: See the Quotes page. It's the main reason why you merely "Ignore" or "Not Now" unwanted friend requests, or are unable to "Dislike" a post.
- Which leads to some odd situations, where if somebody posts something genuinely sad, like the death of a family member...well, "like" isn't exactly appropriate, is it? It sort of forces a comment.
- Oh, and when someone unfriends you, which they undoubtedly will, you will never be able to find out why.
- Home Game: Sort of. There are Facebook versions of Wheel of Fortune, The Price Is Right, Press Your Luck and Jeopardy!.
- Interface Screw: Every damn time they change the look, something is done differently.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Currently over 800 million active users, and it's expected to reach the 1 billion mark by August 2012. That's 14% of the entire world.
- Loose Lips: Two types of people who love Facebook? Private investigators and divorce lawyers. People forget that often anyone can read what they put online, although upping your privacy settings can reduce (but not eliminate) the risks involved. Remember: It's a bulletin board, not a diary.
- Lost Forever: You can change your name as it is displayed, but only up to four times. The fifth time you try to do so, you can only change to a name you've had previously.
- Misplaced Nationalism: Plenty of rather nasty nationalist groups can be found on the site. Luckily, reporting them can yield results if the people in charge pay attention.
- Even the more benevolent groups dedicated to a country will usually have a problem at some point with their walls being trolled by people of other nationalities who don't like them.
- Money, Dear Boy: In Spring 2012, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin ended his United States citizenship just when Facebook earned a record in wages, and entered the stock market. The reason: he won't need to pay $100,000,000 in taxes from its IPO.
- Moral Guardians: More than a few concerns raised by this group, including privacy and other things...
- New Media Are Evil: The typical reaction whenever Facebook changes its privacy settings.
- Noodle Incident: Reading peoples' profiles can often have multiple variants of these, proving that it is a Justified Trope.
- Hell, Failbook.com is a site dedicated to collecting these.
- Online Personas: Facebook users can fit every conceivable sub-trope of this one.
- Orwellian Editor: Users are able to delete any content they want, but there's always someone who takes a screenshot before incriminating posts get deleted.
- Overly Long Gag: Constantly receiving notifications from a thread you barely participated in can become this, but luckily this has been been fixed in recent months.
- Serious Business: Aside from the flame wars people start by commenting on more sensitive topics, friending/defriending, personal posts, comments and notes are taken very seriously, to the point where defriending someone is considered equivalent to spitting in his face. People expect to get sympathy for every problem with their lives there, so simple relationship breakups and accidentally burning a pizza become equivalent to Armageddon. Some users go so far as to report harassment if one decides to decline participation in an event, and will flat-out block you for simply not going to the said event.
- Remember, any relationship with another human being is not official until it's Facebook Official®. So if you post your wedding photos and haven't listed yourself as "married to [person Y]", it hasn't strictly happened yet until you have.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: You know at least one couple who send syrupy messages to each other in public on the site.
- The Internet Is for Porn: Even though anything but the most softcore photos will probably get deleted, people still try to sneak crap past the radar.
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: Hardest ever subversion / discrediting of this. About half the userbase is female, surprisingly like Real Life.
- The Tetris Effect: Spending too much time on Facebook can lead to seeing phantom notifications in the corner of your screen, or looking for the "like" button on forum posts.
- Unperson: The concept of "unfriending" – removing someone from the list of "friends" – taken to another level, where a former friend is also blocked from seeing the blocker's profile or otherwise contacting him/her via Facebook. Those who are blocked are virtually "invisible" to each other.
- Too Dumb to Live: If you post detailed information about when and where you plan on traveling for your honeymoon, and your address, and don't have strict privacy settings ... well, don't be surprised when your house gets burgled while you're away.
- Your Cheating Heart: Got a paramour on Facebook you're hiding from your partner? Sorry, they're going to find out eventually. There is no such thing as privacy on this site.