It’s hard to imagine a time before giant internet companies and robust social media platforms. In fact, for many alive today, it’s hard to even imagine a time before the internet existed. Moreover, anyone born into generation Z doesn’t even know what a world without the internet, interconnectivity, smartphones and social media even is! Let’s take a look at the evolution of social media throughout history and discover where we came from and where we are charted to go.
It might come as a surprise to know that the first instance of any type of ‘social media’ arrived back in 1844. That’s right--before computers were invented and prior to Edison’s invention of the light bulb! In 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph from Washington D.C. to Baltimore. The first message ever sent? ‘What Have God Wrought’.
Fast forward to 1969 and we encounter the military’s first attempt at creating a network for communication between universities. This was called ARPAN or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. It was a type of proto-internet that was used to share research information across vast distances. Unfortunately, when first tested, only two letters were transmitted: ‘LO’. They meant to send ‘LOGIN’ but someone hit enter too quickly!
The real beginning of what we would consider ‘social media’ or ‘social networks’ as we define them today would be back in 1997 when the internet really starting to be adopted by the public. Sixdegrees was created and lasted from 1997 to 2001 and had a peak user base of about 1 million members who could create profiles and become ‘friends’ with each other.
In 1999 we saw the emergence of creative blogs that kept us updated on the lives and happenings of our friends or folks we were interested in keeping up with. LiveJournal was the platform that emerged and allowed friends to keep each other updated on their lives. This would later become the basis for the ‘status’ posts on various social media platforms.
The 2000s saw the explosion of the internet and we began to realize just how impactful this world wide web and network of websites was going to be on our lives. In 2002 we saw the launch of Friendster, which was, in a way, the precursor to Facebook (which wouldn’t arrive for another 2 years). The following year, 2003, would introduce us to MySpace. The lifespan of this platform could be compared to a rocket; it burned really hot for a short period of time. Surprisingly enough, LinkedIn actually launched before the social giants of today. LinkedIn allowed users a place to post job openings, resumes and send private messages with other business-oriented individuals. By 2004, LinkedIn would have over 1 million users. Fast forward another 13 years and we just saw this business social network surpass 500 million users.
2004 was really the year where we saw drastic changes in the landscape of social media. The advent of Gmail came first in January. This was the first exclusive email system that began as invite only - a centerpiece of the Facebook model - which would launch the next month. Initially, Facebook would only be accessible to other students at Harvard but in the following months and years, we would see its humble beginnings abandoned and a--userbase of over 2.2 billion individuals would amass over the next 14 years.
The following year would be the birth of what is now the second most visited website in the world: YouTube. While not initially considered a ‘social network’ in the rawest sense, it has become a robust platform with hundreds of millions of users around the globe creating and sharing content on a daily basis and has thus evolved into a sort of video-based social media website.
From 2010 through the present day we have seen a renewed explosion of social media websites including Twitter, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Reddit, Twitch, Github and countless others. We now see countless scandals with these platforms in regards to tracking user activity and the mining of personal data on a level we could not have imagined back when social media first debuted. We’ve seen giants like Google and Facebook testify before Congress in regards to what is considered unethical treatment of user data. Essentially, social media went from a way to connect with friends and family to the user becoming a commodity and their habits being bought and sold by giant corporations.
At Emenator, we recognized the disparity and divergence of what social media was intended to be and what it has now become. We believe in the value of your privacy and present a more immersive experience that isn’t cluttered with advertisements and false information. Our vision is to create a platform used to share creative ideas within a community of like-minded individuals who are tired of being seen as a means to an end. You are valued as a member on Emenator and not viewed as a product--Emenator is a social network for the new era.
Experience the Emenator difference today by signing up for our membership. Our goal is to make waves and disrupt the current status quo that we believe should be rejected. We reject the idea that social networking should cost you your privacy. You deserve a more intimate interaction with those you wish to connect with and share your creativity with. Join us in reshaping the landscape so that it reflects you and what you value. The giant corporations treat you like a product. At Emenator, we value you as a member.