20 years of Facebook: remember the main controversies of the social network

Facebook turns 20 this Sunday (4), celebrating a milestone of over 3 billion monthly users while trying to deal with the new technologies that threaten to take its place. The platform started very different from what it is today.

When it was launched on February 4, 2004, the social network was known as “The Facebook” and could only be accessed by university students. The project led by then student Mark Zuckerberg took on a look more similar to its current one the following year.

Facebook has changed a lot since its debut in 2004.Facebook has changed a lot since its debut in 2004.Source: Facebook/Reproduction

After removing the “The” from the name, the site started accepting any internet user aged 13 or over. From then on, news feed, like button, groups, Messenger, reactions and several other new features came, in addition to the purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Controversies are also a hallmark of the social network that had Orkut as its first major rival, involving data leaks, the dissemination of hate speech, fake news, etc. Below we recall some of the Facebook's main controversies.

Zuckerberg's controversies

Mark Zuckerberg has been involved in several controversies in recent years.Mark Zuckerberg has been involved in several controversies in recent years.Source: Getty Images/Reproduction

The very origin of Facebook is shrouded in controversy, leading to legal disputes between the founders. One of them was between Zuckerberg and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who accused him of intellectual property theft.

Another co-founder, Brazilian Eduardo Saverin also fell out with his former friend after having his shareholding diluted. Over the years, the billionaire has been involved in several other controversies, such as the one that almost resulted in a fight against Elon Musk.

Data leak

The Cambridge Analytica case influenced the 2016 US elections.The Cambridge Analytica case influenced the 2016 US elections.Source: Getty Images/Reproduction

A Facebook's main controversy came to light in 2018, when the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica was accused of collecting data from tens of millions of users of the social network. The information was used for political purposes, helping Donald Trump's campaign, according to the complaint.

For failing to guarantee user privacy, Facebook received a billion dollar fine. The sanction applied in 2019 by the US Federal Trade Commission was US$5 billion.

Change from Facebook Inc to Meta

The company's name change makes a reference to the metaverse.The company's name change makes a reference to the metaverse.Source: Getty Images/Reproduction

Another great moment in the history of Facebook was the change of the name of the social network's controller to Meta, a Greek word that means “beyond”. The exchange carried out in 2021 signaled the investment in the metaverse, a mixed reality environment.

The idea was to show that big tech could go beyond social networks. However, the metaverse has not yet taken off and today has lost space for investments in artificial intelligence.

Facebook vs other apps

The relationship with competitors was not always good.The relationship with competitors was not always good.Source: Getty Images/Reproduction

The corporation led by Zuckerberg also has a vast history of controversies against its competitors. One of them had the TikTok as a targeta platform that is among the favorites of young audiences.

In 2022, Facebook was accused of financing a smear campaign against the short video app by hiring a digital consulting company. The initiative included the publication of articles in which TikTok was cited as a toxic environment for young people.

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