By: Steve Retka
Facebook, which has become the gold standard for social networking sites, turned six years old yesterday. And while its creators and other business minds alike will continue to ponder where the online juggernaut will go in the future, I think we should take this opportunity to look back and admire how far it has already come.
It only took the networking website a couple of years to dominate the social lives of many around the world. It’s become the primary way of keeping in touch with friends far away, updating the masses with what we’re up to at any given moment, and defining whether or not our relationships are “facebook official”.
Yes, Facebook has redefined issues of privacy and what’s socially acceptable. And while there have been some morally ambiguous actions made possible by the social network, like the Missouri woman who had her family picture stolen from Facebook and used as advertising in the Czech Republic, it has done a lot of good as well.
I was lucky enough to witness the positive power of Facebook firsthand. I was attending school in Fargo during the massive flooding that hit much of North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota in the spring of 2009. There was a huge turnout of volunteers to help sandbag, but many were unable to be put to use since no one knew where to send them all. It was becoming an organizational and logistical nightmare. However, a local radio host I knew wrote in his Facebook status that he was going to a friend’s house the next morning to sandbag and included the specific address. The next day, nearly 200 people showed up to this one person’s house to help out.
For me, this became my defining moment when I knew that this Internet titan had the potential for even greater things. There’s no telling what other feats this social network will achieve, but for now we can all agree that Facebook has done pretty well for itself these past six years.