what is the start of social media?

A Historical Look: When Was Social Media Invented?

This article presents a comprehensive exploration of social media’s historical evolution.

It traces the journey from early communication systems to the rise of transformative platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and others.

The piece also delves into key trends, technological advancements, and their societal and business impacts, thereby providing a holistic view of social media’s growth and its pivotal role in shaping today’s digitally connected world.

Key Takeaways

  • Social media has a long history, with roots in Morse code and the emergence of ARPANET in the late 1960s.
  • The first true social media platform, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997, followed by influential platforms like Friendster and MySpace in the early 2000s.
  • Platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, and WordPress emerged in the early 2000s, targeting specific communities and introducing new features like content monetisation and photo-sharing.
  • The rise of platforms like X former Twitter, Weibo, Instagram, and Pinterest brought new forms of communication, visual content sharing, and location-based features to social media.

The Dawn of Social Media: SixDegrees and Beyond

The dawn of social media marked the launch of SixDegrees, an innovative platform that pioneered the concept of creating user profiles and establishing online connections, laying the groundwork for the subsequent evolution of the digital communication landscape. This begs the question: when was social media invented? The answer lies in 1997, when SixDegrees made its debut. This marked the inception of an era where digital platforms would become integral to personal and professional communication.

When did social media start gaining momentum? The early 2000s witnessed an exponential rise in the usage of these platforms. SixDegrees’ revolutionary model was the catalyst, setting the stage for the advent of giants like Facebook and X.

The invention and evolution of social media has undoubtedly transformed global communication paradigms. You can learn about more social media statistics here.

The Big Players: Facebook, X and Others

In the realm of social media, industry titans such as Facebook and X have emerged as game-changers, shaping the digital communication landscape with their innovative features and widespread user engagement.

Launched in 2004, Facebook has nearly 1.7 billion users worldwide, while X formerly called Twitter, founded in 2006, engages 22% of U.S. adults. These platforms have revolutionised how information is shared and consumed, influencing global dialogue and cultural trends.

Businesses too have found a dynamic space in these platforms, utilising them for customer interaction, brand promotion, and market research. Despite controversies surrounding privacy and content moderation, these platforms continue to evolve, incorporating new features such as live streaming, augmented reality, and e-commerce capabilities.

Their enduring popularity underscores the profound impact of social media on contemporary society.

East Meets West: Social Media in China

While Western social media giants like Facebook and X dominate globally, China’s unique digital landscape has birthed its own influential platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, shaping a distinct social media culture.

WeChat, a multi-purpose platform, integrates social networking, messaging, and e-commerce, serving over a billion users monthly.

On the other hand, Weibo, often referred to as China’s X, boasts around 511 million users, presenting a microblogging platform that profoundly influences public opinion in China.

These platforms have been instrumental in advancing the country’s digital economy and have successfully embedded themselves in the everyday life of Chinese citizens.

Yet, they also operate under rigorous state censorship, reflecting the complex intersection of technology, society, and politics within China’s social media landscape.

When was social media invented?

Changing Times: The Rise of Visual and Location-Based Social Media

Shifting gears from the Chinese context, one needs to consider the emergence of visual and location-based social media platforms, as they have significantly transformed the way users interact and consume content online.

Platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have redefined the social media landscape with their visually-driven content, engaging users through images and videos.

On the other hand, platforms like Foursquare and Grindr have capitalised on the smartphone revolution, offering services based on user location.

These platforms have not only changed the dynamics of social interaction but have also introduced new avenues for targeted marketing and advertising.

As these platforms continue to evolve, they are set to redefine the boundaries of online interaction, creating a more immersive and personalised user experience.

The Modern Era: Monetisation, Fake News and the Future of Social Media

Over the past decade, all major social media platforms have introduced various monetisation strategies, creating a significant impact on the global advertising industry, while the pervasive issue of fake news continues to challenge the credibility and integrity of online information.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have become lucrative avenues for businesses, influencers, and content creators, transforming the digital marketing landscape. However, alongside the economic benefits, the surge in misinformation and disinformation in some user’s content posting strategy, particularly during significant global events, has raised serious concerns.

Looking ahead, the future of social media will likely see an increased emphasis on filtering out fake news, stricter guidelines for advertisers, and further evolution of monetisation models. Regardless, the dual challenge of maximising revenue while preserving user trust will dominate the industry’s strategic focus.


In conclusion, the advent of social media has revolutionised communication, shaping society and business operations significantly.

From initial platforms like SixDegrees to contemporary giants like Facebook, its evolution is marked by continuous innovation.

Despite challenges, including fake news and privacy concerns, social media’s influence remains profound, bridging geographical divides and fostering global connectivity.

As the landscape evolves, further research into its impact and potential developments is imperative for understanding its future trajectory.

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