Three Sites That Paved The Way For Facebook


With more than 500 million users, there’s no doubt that Facebook is the social media gorilla. Yet, Facebook has only been around for seven years, and was founded as an exclusive college-only network. The amount of growth and the changes that Facebook has brought about everyday life and business in less than a decade are astounding.

With most users checking their accounts daily, it seems almost unheard of to think of the days before Facebook. In this post, I’ll show you some of the sites that paved the way for the now social media giant.

AOL Chatrooms

One of the first “social” sites was AOL Chatrooms. Back in the days of painfully slow dial-up internet, there many of us were, my then middle school self included, talking away about our hobbies, interests and whatever random stuff we talked about those days online.

AOL Chatrooms really laid the foundation for the first social networks. Despite the shady characters who frequented many of the chats, it was one of the first places for both friends and strangers to build connections online. It helped establish an online community that would explode a decade later.


Fast forward a couple of years, there’s Xanga. It was all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, since it was half blog and half of a pre-social network. But nonetheless, it set the stage for sites like Friendster. Believe it or not, Xanga is still in existence more than a decade.


In 2002, Friendster was founded as a dating site. It quickly amassed an internationally following, and became the first “true” social network. It lasted for over four years, and equipped 9-10 million users.

Friendster paved the way for Myspace, Facebook and much later Twitter.

What sites did you frequent back in the pre-Facebook era?

How much do you think Friendster contributed to sites like Myspace and Facebook?

About the author

Jessica Malnik

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