Social Media Changes Over Time


Savannah Andrews, Chief Editor

Social media has been a big part of our lives for the most part, but how did it all start? And what has changed in the apps we use today? A good majority of teens and young adults use some sort of social media in their day-to-day lives, but it was not always the way it is now.

The first well-known and most recognized social media platform is called Six Degrees. It was first introduced in 1996 by its founder Andrew Weinreich. Even though it was a recognizable platform few people connected to the internet at the time, not as many people joined the website, unlike today where billions of people are all now connected and have some sort of social media. Like today, Six Degrees founded in 1996 was the first social media site that was a way to stay connected with friends and to create your profile, it allowed its users to send messages to friends. It was even brought back once the internet was a little more popular, in the article A chronological history of social media written by Christopher McFadden, “in 2000 it was purchased for $125 million and shut down in 2001, but brought back a few years later.”

In 2003, Myspace took off as a social media site; it introduced the world to a new way of interacting online— starting up what we find familiar such as posting photos and videos, today on our social media platforms unlike SixDegrees who was a lot less about posting, and more about messaging friends. It introduced a way of following and interacting with friends through comments and posts that you as the profile owner could post photos of your life to share with others on Myspace. It was so popular in fact that it was the most used website in 2006. Around the same time, Facebook started up in 2004 but was only available to students at Harvard for two years until released to the public in 2006. In 2008 Facebook passed Myspace as the most popular social media site up to today where it has 2.5 billion users being the biggest platform to ever be in use, bigger than any other social media platform ever.

Facebook is not the only popular social media platform right now, another one is Instagram with over 1 billion users used by teens and young adults to share their pictures and videos. Snapchat is another video and picture-sharing social media with over 293 million users, which according to The Pew Research center Snapchat is used by people between the ages of 18-24, they make up about 78% of the regular users. Another popular social media site is TikTok that has 800 million regular users, The Pew Research center their statistics shows that about 50% of its users are under the age of 35, and the majority being 16 to 24. TikTok is only videos that usually consist of songs, comedic skits, and many other forms of entertainment. There are many other platforms used by many people, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are a few examples of what social media looks like. 

Updates— if you have a social media app on your phone, every once in a while that app needs to update. Most of the time it is little things that programmers of the app need to work out, or users gain a new feature to use, the setup when opening the app may look different, or the app may end up looking completely different, many different things can be redone to an app. Another big change often made is when another person or company buys it, this can lead to many changes done with the site. 

There are many new changes in the popular Social media sites mentioned above, including live streams are a new thing on many sites. Stories originated on Snapchat, and have spread out to other platforms that also added this feature. A big part of new advanced technology is the algorithm using it to find things that you are interested in, it brings up posts that are like what you have looked at before, some apps are better at this than others such as the TikTok algorithm that changes all the time based off of all the things you do in the app, all the way down to how long you watch a video. All the pictures, videos, and ads that you like, or save are all used in a way that will keep you on any of the apps for a much longer time so that when you open the app, you get lost in it, losing hours of your time. In the 2020 documentary, the social dilemma dives deep into how effective the algorithm really is.  Social media is very addictive to most people because it is all geared toward your certain taste, because of the algorithm. 

Products placed in a certain way in ads persuade you to buy that product, and because the entertainment part of the app finds things that interest you, the ads to find products that you are more interested in as opposed to putting a random ad in, and hoping someone interested will see it, Instagram has even put in a feature for shopping through the app, so that it’s easier to buy the product you are looking at right then and there. While this is effective in getting you interested in posts and online products, there are a few problems with the algorithm on most sites, sometimes the wrong things get filtered out, posts are often reported by someone who gets offended by the post to the company in charge of the app, but sometimes they are not looked at and are quick to take it down. Filtering through videos is a need when taking down videos that are offensive, or inappropriate.

During people’s time at home, social media was a good way of curing boredom, and because it is so addictive, all people can use it as a way to get lost for hours at a time. At a time where we could not leave our homes and see friends or family members, it was quite helpful to see what they were up to and to keep in contact with them through social media. There were even changes done to some sites to accommodate for the distance, the creators gave us the features in the app to video chat with our friends. 

Now that in-person school is available so that students can come and see their friends face to face. Social media helps to keep in touch with others, but it is less needed for interacting with school friends. There are also more restrictions when it comes to being on phones and going on social media during school because it takes away from the time set for education. When at home there are more opportunities to get on social media as much as you want.