Facebook, the Social Web

Facebook is a social tool that puts you in connection with the people around you.
It is also used as a promotional tool by businesses.

Anyone over the age of 13 can join the social networking site. It was originally intended for students to Harvard, but this now belongs to history.
Facebook has a traffic similar to that of Google et by the way of new services is a concurrent to Youtube, Flickr, Gmail and since April 2010, Wikipedia too.


Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004 one year after MySpace and two years after Friendstr. The name comes from photos of groups distributed by university students in memory of the past year. It was designed for Harvard but was propagated to other universities and colleges and has then spread to other institutions.
It is now open to all.
The site was once called thefacebook.com. On August 23, 2005 the domain name facebook.com was bought for $ 200,000.

Facebook is not the first social network. It was preceded by Friendster (2002) and MySpace (2003) and other less notable as SixDegrees.com (1997).

Microsoft owns now 1.6% of the shares in the company.
Launched in April 2010, Open Graph is an API for connecting Web sites to Facebook so they can use information about members.
The company is pursuing a strategy of expansion and diversification with the acquisition of other companies, Instagram to share photos, Whatsapp for messaging on mobile, Oculus Rift for virtual reality.

The Ceglia Case

Paul Ceglia claims he is owner of Facebook on behalf of a contract he signed with Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, the second was to perform a job of webmaster for the first, both for Streetfax and a site to come, The Face Book, and was to receive $ 1,000 for each of these two works.
The contract appears suspicious, especially since Paul Ceglia is on trial for embezzling U.S. $ 200,000 of his customers.
Zuckenberg hired an army of experts and detectives to investigate Ceglia and documents he produces. A long list of scams on his part is already released and it appears that this case is a bad idea.
On October 26, 2012, Paul Ceglia was arrested for fraud. He is accused of having doctored documents and destroyed evidence.

Why to register?

One can find the following reason ...

What can be found on Facebook

The wall
It is a space on the profile of each member where he can display notes and where you can post messages to his address. It is visible to authorized members of a group. You can attach documents, pictures, etc…
Community pages
The Community pages are wiki pages devoted to a topic, and formed by contributions from members interested in this subject.
In fact Facebook created an alternative to Wikipedia.
These are icons that are accompanying sent messages. They are posted on the wall.
Small ads may be placed for free. Sell, trade…
A user has a function to send a poke to another. This is a way to interact. This serves to attract attention and can be taken as an advance. Originally, it was just the word “poke”, but applications can now attach action to this function.
A new service with the same name is to provide to friends photos that disappear once you saw them.
The status zone can tell what you are doing at this moment.
Facebook has become (since May 24, 2007) a platform on which one can develop applications that use the core functions of the site.
For examples Fun Wall creates a multimedia video wall, with graffitis, and so on. Top Friends makes a management of friends. Compares People makes comparisons on the statistics of members. Super Poke enables us to do things with (virtual) other members.
It is in fact an application, which presents a list of recent actions of a member in its space.
The user can put online his diary with photos and text. Navigation in the course of time is facilitated. This diary is shared with friends.
Facebook is also a site for sharing video whose features are similar to those of Youtube but the essential difference is that they are displayed only on the site in order.
However, external scripts allow to download them and view them elsewhere (see resources).
Group chat and video calls
To reply to Google+ competition, this service of chat by video in the browser appears in July 2011. The service works over Skype (now owned by Microsoft).

Drawbacks and risks of Facebook

All information posted on the site can be collected and used politically or for the purpose of investigations by the police. Access to the site is often blocked by universities or governments because of the content of messages they do know and movements that are growing easily thanks to quick spread of messages.
The Beacon system that allows the use of information about members for the purpose of targeting advertising has been strongly criticized. Indeed, the activity of members to third-party sites was centralized on Facebook and reused when members returned on these sites as well as those of their friends.
Also many members have a fictitious profile, which corresponds neither their name nor their personality. Names of personalities are used repeatedly. Voyeurism is the basis of the site and fakes its flaw.

Max Schrems, an Austrian student in law has asked Facebook in 2011 to provide, in accordance with EU regulations, all data stored about him. He apparently had a long activity on the site since he received a CD with 1222 files. All interactions he had with other subscribers have been registered. All data he has deleted was still present in the recorded content.

Software powering Facebook

The software that enables Facebook to process billions of pages per day, while remaining responsive. With the exception of Haystack and BigPipe, internally developed, software are all open source and freely usable on any server.

Language of pages: The system and applications used a particular language derived from HTML and called FBML now deprecated and replaced by HTML + JavaScript.

Databases: MySQL for common tasks and created Cassandra, now maintained by Apache to replace MySQL for unstructured data, more efficient on very large networks. But Cassandra seems little or not used by Facebook now.
This is complemented by Memcached, a cached manager working between applications and the database, which avoids to repeat frequent queries.
Apollo is a new noSQL database similar to HBase, for low-latency systems.
GraphQL is the database language used by mobile applications. Its peculiarity is that a request, expressed in JSON has the same form as the response: the query contains the field names, the answer adds the data contained in these fields.

Programming languages: PHP has been compiled in February 2010 with the Hip Hop compiler made by Facebook, but it is open source. All software so are executed in binary code but the company then turned to a virtual machine and has even developed its own version of PHP, Hack, with statically typed variables.
Actually Facebook uses besides PHP many different languages: Java, C++, Haskell, OCaml and even D. To interface programs written in these different languages, Thrift generates the appropriate code for Web services.

Storage. Next to MySQL for data, Haystack is a storage système providing an efficient access to photos. It manages the 80 billion photos stored by users (June 2010).

Server of pages: BigPipe runs parallel loading pages (wall, stream, chat, etc. ...). It has been developed by Facebook.

User Management: Scribe manages access to the site for users.

Data analysis: Hadoop is another Apache project to perform massive calculations on data. Hive is a complement to Hadoop, he allow to use its calculations with queries similar to SQL.

Contents transfers : Varnish is an HTTP accelerator acting as a buffer.

Open Graph

Open Graph replaces Facebook Connect, a way to use the services of Facebook on any Web site, in which competition and Google responded with Xauth.
Open Graph proposes to make websites nodes of a unique social network of which Facebook would be the center. Members' profiles, their relationships with others, become accessible from all Web sites and used by them.

Open Graph is probably interesting for business account (not its goal), but concerned for the respect of privacy.
There have been many negative reactions and accounts deactivation from major web people after the announcement of Open Graph.


in 2012

In April 2010:

In December 2009:

In December 2007:

Sites and documents