The Origins of Social Media

Where did it all begin?

Today’s culture is saturated with mobile and social media. There are over 3.7 billion live websites in the world, according to internet live stats. But before the internet became the go to for everything, and before Facebook became as common as French fries and baseball, social media was around. It may surprise you how long ago it really all began.

The Beginning Stages

If you really look at the internet and social media, then you will find that the origins began in the 1970s when the BBS, or Bulletin Board System, was used online to communicate with a central system. This system was highly in effective for the most part as you had to connect to the internet, type code, and then download the content. Those who remember (or where born) during the time of the apple and floppy disc understand the tremendous lag in times, the enormous amount of code just to do a simple mundane task, and internet connection speeds were well below the 4G networks we have now.

Social Media

This is not saying that the original social media board did not have its perks. BBS allowed for downloading games and for posting messages to other users. All brought to you by the telephone modem. And while the name may have changed from BBS and there may be more sophisticated forms of the system, as social media has evolved. It still remains a presence online.

The downfall of the BBS is that it mainly caters, now, to the downloading of pirated material or (at the least) copyright infringement. Consider Pirate Bay, Kazza, Napster (who could forget that one), and Music City Morpheus.

Enter Six Degrees

In 1997 Six degrees became the first official social media site. The platform was the first to organize the content of the internet, such as chat, profiles, bulliten boards, etc. into one location. Anthony Tornambe – The platform did not create anything new, but made it a portal to connect it all together. AOL, Yahoo, and MSN already had chatrooms and profiles established by 1997, however it was Six degrees which propelled these features forward.

Six Degrees allowed for users to create their own profiles, invite friends, make posts, and many of the primary functions that you find in social media today. What caused the downfall of the site was the pushy encouragement to gain more members. We call it SPAM messaging today. Apparently, even in 1997 no one liked to be bombarded with marketing content.


In terms of the modern day social media, MySpace is the first platform to really gain momentum. This was done in 2003. The quick rise and fall of the company was the birth child of Facebook. Granted, there were other social media sites which came during that time. Linked in began the same year and still runs strong. Friendster started in 2002 on the premise that you could connect with a circle of friends. The social media site grew to an impressive three million users within a year. Had it not been for the continuous failure of the servers, it may have continued to as a social media site. But all is not lost for the shareholders of the company. Freindster still functions as an online gaming site.

Myspace, when it launched in 2003 gave the social media world something which it had not experienced before, an avenue to express themselves. The social media site allowed for music, videos, and posts to be listed on the site. Where the site failed is that it did not transition and build upon the popularity. It remained oriented, and still remains so, to the musician. Additionally, the archaic layout of the site leaves much to be desired.

And finally, Facebook

Facebook is rather new. Though it leads in global popularity, the site did not go live until 2004. And though the 13 years have been good to the site, marketing and other limitations and invasions on privacy have caused a bit of a slag in new users. Add to this Google+ and other platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram which cater to the desires of selected Social Media users, and the site may have a run for its money in the next few years. But only if other competitors can stay in the mainstream of catering to the mobile media.

One of the reasons why Facebook has remained strong in social media is because it has had the insight to transition as trends transition. In simple terms, it knows the market. Whether this will keep the Mongol of social media afloat for another decade is yet to be seen. What is known is that upon reading this article, you can like, post, or share it to Facebook, almost instantaneously. BBS would be so jealous.