Human beings are social and each of us needs communication.

People have proved it with the help of cave paintings, hieroglyphics, letters and newspapers, telegraph and television, and so on and so forth.

However, the most important step in this direction was made at the dawn of the 21st century when Internet technologies gave people wide opportunities for communication. And you know what? Social networks continue to evolve every day. For example, a week ago Twitter integrated Periscope into profiles and the timeline.

In this article, you can read about the history of social networks from their beginning to the present time. Here we are going to describe the following:

If you want to grasp the history of social media, it’s useful to explore global social media statistics and delve into terms, studying the social media glossary.

All these facts will help you to feel comfortable on any social network and manage multiple social media accounts easy. 

The history of social media, KUKU.io review

Who were those genius people who invented social media? What was the first social media site? When did social media become popular? And what about countries? Where did social media start?  All these questions have the answers, so let’s dive in!

The roots and the history of social networking

Thanks to social media, the world is more connected now than ever. Social networks have become an integral part of our lives. People of different ages, professions, and interests use social networks every day and check their network success using social media reporting tools. And how it all began?

We will not dig deep into the history of communication channels that preceded social media. Of course, cave paintings can also be attributed to social communication, but this is another story. And it’s much more interesting to review the history of social media sites in the modern sense.

20th century and social media precursors

The history of Usenet

Usenet was first mentioned by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis in 1979. The system allowed posting articles or news posts to newsgroups. Usenet systems were responsible for the development of newsreader clients (the precursor to RSS feed readers). Nowadays Google and Yahoo! groups use many conventions established by the original Usenet.

BBS as one of the earliest known forms of social media

Bulletin board systems (BBS) became available in the late 70s. They were hosted on PCs and only one person could gain access to them at a time.

It was the first type of sites that let users log on and interact with each other. BBS remained popular until the late 1990s. It was the first real corporate attempt at accessing the Internet by online services like CompuServe and Prodigy.

Another one service created by a General Electric subsidiary in 1985 – Genie – was a text-based service. It was the first commercial rival of CompuServe.

The first social media, KUKU.io review

IRC and ICQ: instant messaging time

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was introduced in 1988. The service was used for file and link sharing and keeping in touch. It raised from BBS roots and was the real ancestor of modern instant messaging.

ICQ is a creation of Israeli company “Mirabilis”. It was developed in the mid-90s. ICQ is known as the first instant messaging program for PCs.

The history of social media: ICQ. KUKU.io review

Early social media

Forums and dating sites in the history and evolution of social media

Can we consider dating sites as the first social networks? Why not!

The first dating sites started to appear as soon as users started going online. The users were able to create profiles with photos and contact other users.

Forums also played a great part in online evolution. The descendants of BBSs were popular in the 70s and 80s but they came with more user-friendly interfaces. Many forum platforms were developed, including vBulletin and phpBB.

SixDegrees, Asianavanue, Blackplanet, Migente and many others

The first modern social media SixDegrees was launched in 1997. Users had an opportunity to create profiles and to become friends with other users. The site was quite popular and had around a million members at its peak. SixDegrees was shut down in 2001.

Asianavanue, Blackplanet and Migente cropped up in the years following SixDegrees’ launch (from 1997 to 2001). Their users could also create profiles and add friends (without approval btw). They could create personal and professional profiles.

The earliest social media. KUKU.io review

1999 and LiveJournal

LiveJournal started to work in 1999. It is a social network built around constantly updated blogs.

Each user’s journal has its own page that includes the comments of other users. Each user can create its friend list, follow other users and create groups. Actually, LiveJournal emerges as the precursor to the live updates we see in social networks currently.

2000s and social media advances

The early 2000s inaugurated some huge developments in social media world.

2002 and Friendster

Friendster (founded in 2002) was the first social network in the modern sense. It was an active platform with more than 115 million registered users. 90% of its traffic came from Asia. Friendster allowed users to discover their friends and expanded their networks. It was planned as a more safe place to meet new people than in real-life.

In 2015, Friendster made a decision to take a break and paused its services to make them more effective.

2003: LinkedIn and Hi5


LinkedIn was founded in 2003 as one of the first mainstream networks made for business. The site allows to post and to interact through private messaging. Gradually, other options have been added (groups, forums, new profile features, etc), so now it’s quite easy to manage LinkedIn business page and use it for brand awareness.

In 2004 LinkedIn introduced new features such as Groups and partners with American Express for business. In 2008 LinkedIn opened the first international office in London. Spanish and French language versions of the site were launched.

In 2013 the company reached 225 million members. Today LinkedIn has more than 467 million members.

The history of social media: LinkedIn. KUKU.io review


Another social network – Hi5 was also established in 2003. More than 100 million active members use it nowadays.

Hi5 users can set their profiles to be seen only by their network members or by Hi5 users in general. It’s mostly popular in Asia, Central Africa, and Latin America.

The earliest social media and dating sites

2004 and the beginning of Facebook flowering

What is the history of Facebook?

The history of Facebook began in 2004 when it was first introduced in Harvard and then was quickly expanded to other schools.

In 2008 Facebook became the most popular social media and continues to grow.

In 2012, Facebook introduced App Center that operates via the site. It is available on iPhones and Android devices.

Facebook allows users to post any kind of content and customize their profiles. It has added many new features over the past few years that make it more popular. People on Facebook are able to use private messaging and add posts on their walls. It’s easy to change privacy settings to allow different users to see different parts of the profile.

Facebook history, KUKU.io review-2016


Since the launch in 2004, MySpace has played the essential role in social life: political scandals or show business events.

By 2006 MySpace had grown to be the most popular social media in the world. The users of MySpace could completely customize the look of their profiles, post music from artists and embed videos from other platforms. In 2006 MySpace also announced MySpace IM – the instant messaging client that allows people to chat with their friends.

MySpace social media history, KUKU.io review

2005 and Youtube

YouTube was launched in 2005 and started to be the first major video hosting and sharing site. YouTube users have an opportunity to upload videos or embed them on other sites and blogs.

Key YouTube’s social features include comments, ratings and the option to subscribe to the channels of a user’s favorite video creators.

In October 2006, there were about 65 employees in YouTube office.

Today YouTube is the largest online video destination in the world. Every minute 24 hours of video uploaded to the site.

2006 and Twitter history timeline

2006 is known as the year of Twitter creating. There was a SxSW conference in 2007, after which Twitter gained a lot of popularity. There were many updates and optimizations in Twitter company history and on its base many third-party sites and apps were created.

All Twitter users know about 140 characters limit in a tweet. The reason for this limitation is that Twitter was originally designed as a mobile SMS-platform.

The history of social media: Twitter review by KUKU.io

Nowadays Twitter has great statistics: more than 310 million monthly active users, 1.3 billion accounts, about 3.900 employees, and so on.

The most retweeted tweet has got 3.33 million retweets.

Twitter popularity, KUKU.io 2016 review

2007 and Tumblr

Tumblr has gained popularity in recent years as a microblogging platform for millions of people around the world who can share there whatever they like. And 2007 was the year of its creation.

Tumblr is the golden middle between a livestreaming application and a microblogging platform.

According to statistics, there are more than 320 million blog accounts on Tumblr. Here you can post pictures, video, text and audio content, add links, conversations, etc. The network is easy to use, it’s similar to other microblogging platforms in the way that it lets you follow other Tumblr users and see their updates in a specialized dashboard feed.

2009 and Flickr

Flickr has become a social network in recent years. The network has groups and photos, allows people to create profiles, add friends, and organize images albums.

The key advantage of Flickr is that it allows users to license their pictures through Creative Commons License.

The history of Flickr, KUKU.io review

2010 and the success history of Instagram

It seems that the era of visual communication is coming.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has got great success in the social media world.

Today people all over the world use Instagram to connect with each other through social interaction and visual communication. And an important issue for them is how to get more Instagram followers for business.

Instagram allows users to upload visual content and share their photo and video stories. It contains many filters that can transform a mediocre photo into the Instagram masterpiece.

Instagram users are able to share their pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr or Foursquare. One of the most popular things about Instagram is the hashtag trend that is used in captions and comments. In 2013, Instagram made it easier to share publications by adding links to embed photos and videos.

Instagram role in the history of social media

Pinterest time

One more visual network was introduced in 2010 as a closed beta. Pinterest proceeded to operate in invitation-only open beta. In 2011 there was the launch of an iPhone app.

In December 2011, Pinterest became one of the 10 largest social media with 11 million total visits per week. In 2012, Pinterest was available for everyone without requests.

Today the company has more than 110 million monthly users. And this is not its limit.

The history of Pinterest, KUKU.io review

Among the more recent social networks, we can distinguish Periscope and Meercat. But it is too early to determine their history. It’s better to describe them in one of our following articles…

Social media and mass market

No doubts that social networking becomes a mainstream online activity. Single users, companies and brands, celebrities and VIPs continue to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networks on a regular basis.

Therefore it’s so important today to pick up high-quality and relevant service for social networks, which will assist to deal with posting and audience interests.

KUKU.io is one of these services that can help you to optimize your posting. With KUKU.io tools, you can publish your content automatically on all social networks. In addition, the service provides social media analytics reports that helps to manage networks easily.

The history of social media and KUKU.io anlytics tools

Free social media management tools

Well, it seems like social networks have come a long way since Usenet and BBSs time. And they continue to evolve and amaze us. They are adding changes and improvements almost every month and it’s sure to keep evolving in coming years.

What is your favorite social network? Would you like to know more details about the history of Facebook social networking or Twitter? Please share your thoughts in comments and we will add this information.

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