On October 28, 2003, a Harvard sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facemash, the predecessor to Facebook. The site, comparable to Hot or Not, used photos from the “online facebooks of nine houses” and placed two next to each other at a time asking users to select the hotter person. Zuckerberg did this by hacking into protected areas of Harvard’s computer network and copied the houses’ private dorm ID images. Within its first four hours online Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views.
During the next semester Zuckerberg started writing code for a new web site in January 2004. In February 2004 he launched “TheFacebook” which was originally located at thefacebook.com. Almost a week after the site was launched three Harvard seniors accused the facebook creator of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, while instead he was using their ideas to build a competing product. The seniors complained to the Harvard Crimson, and the newspaper began an investigation. Later those three people filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg and subsequently settled.
At first the site membership was restricted to Harvard College students, and within the first month over half of the undergrad population was registered. In March it expanded to Standord, Columbia and Yale. Then it opened to other Ivy League schools and gradually most universities in Canada and the U.S. By the summer of 2004 Facebook was incorporated, and the entrepreneur Sean Parker, who had been informally advising Zuckerberg, became the company president. A high school version was launched in September 2005. A year later it was opened to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. Microsoft purchased 1.6% share of Facebook for $240 million in October 2007. In June 2011 Facebook reached one trillion pageviews, making it the most visited web site in the world, and as of July the social networking site has more than 800 million active users.