“The Facebook” Grows Up

It’s absolutely mind-blowing to stop and think how much Facebook has changed during its 9 years online. Really, the only thing that’s stayed the same is its comforting blue-and-white color scheme. While the network’s most recent big announcement, graph search, delighted marketers to no end, the death of features in former years has lead to some serious backlash. If you were lucky enough to be in college and on the closed network during the golden years of 2004-2006, join us as we review the irresistible procrastination tools—er, we mean features, of years past:

1. Student-Only Status

Back when I joined Facebook in the summer of 2006, it was a closed network. No brands, moms, or grandmothers were allowed. Then high school students were allowed on, and finally, Zuckerberg announced on September 11, 2006 that anyone with a valid email address would soon be allowed access. I don’t know about you, but a hush fell over my college campus and students practically went into mourning knowing that they’d have to keep their content clean enough to avoid receiving a phone call from upset parents. But we all got over it and kept on Facebooking.

2. Whatever I Can Get

Facebook used to allow their users to accept multiple options for “what I’m looking for.” The career-minded among us listed “networking” as an option. You could also look for a relationship, friendship, or the not-safe-for-mom’s-eyes option of “random play.” However, a few college students just laid it all out and admitted they were looking for “whatever I can get.” This option disappeared by 2008, after 4 years of making college students and adults everywhere look just plain desperate for a date.

dead facebook features

image credit: valleywag

3. No News Feed

The vast majority of Facebook’s 1 billion users are likely in the dark about one of the network’s greatest secrets: News feed didn’t always exist. Once upon a time, you had to type your roommate or crush’s name into search and go directly to their profile to scope out their mood and weekend plans. At my college, we called this “Facebook stalking,” which is a dramatic way to describe something that was a bit creepy to begin with. What’s even more strange is that the backlash that erupted after news feed was introduced was mostly because they thought the feature was “creepy.” Can you even imagine life without it now?

4. Celebrity Doppelganger Week

Less of a feature than a trend that made Facebook explode was “celebrity doppelganger” week in February 2010. It was a very strange thing that the social network’s development staff can’t claim any credit for. In fact, no one knows who was actually responsible, but it seemed that half of the network’s users replaced their profile picture with a shot of an A-lister, politician, athlete or, well, you name it. The trend and the multimillion member group created in support of the fad quickly faded, but it made for a pretty surreal week of scrolling through Facebook.

5. Statuses That Started With “Is”

I’m going to feel old if no one believes me, but the ability to type Facebook statuses used to be more grammatically limited. Your prompt actually read “[your name] is….”

6. You Couldn’t “Like” Statuses

You know when you really want to say something, but just can’t word it right? It used to be a major feature on Facebook, until the “Like” button was introduced in February 2009. Prior to that, your only option was commenting or, well, not commenting.

7. Facebook Gifts

If you couldn’t afford 10 bucks for a bouquet of roses for your girlfriend, Facebook attempted to save the day in the form of virtual presents. Facebook gifts were short-lived, strange, and very heavily promoted by the network. Around Valentine’s Day 2007, you couldn’t log in without Facebook asking you to buy a $1 pile of pixels that represented something real and romantic.

8. No URLS

It used to be more or less impossible to advertise your awesome Facebook presence to potential employers. Tell me that I’m not the only one who nervously waited up to grab my name as a URL back in June 2009.

I know I didn’t even come close to listing all of the great and not-so-great Facebook features of yesteryear. Share your favorites in the comments!

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