1972: Nasir Ahmed invents the discrete cosine transform (DCT). Since then, this has been the most widely used data compression algorithm in social media, enabling practical transmission and streaming of digital media. It is the basis for most media compression standards, including digital image formats such as JPEG, video encoding formats such as H.26 x and MPEG, and audio compression standards such as Dolby Digital and MP3.
1973: 17-year-old student Dave Woolley develops PLATO Notes at the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois as a conference and bulletin board forum system for communicating with the user community.
1973: Dave Woolley and Douglas Brown develop Talkomatic at the University of Illinois as a multi-user chatroom application - a sensation among users of the PLATO system's online community.
1973: Staff at the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois develop TERM-Talk as an instant messaging application that allows any two users of the PLATO system to have a live conversation, typing character by character on the bottom of the screen of their PLATO terminals. Shortly after, many features are added, including "monitor mode", which allows one user in the TERM conversation to share their own screen with the other user to ask questions or point out something they are seeing. Years later, this concept will be introduced as "screen sharing" or remote desktop software.
1974: The ARPANET evolves into the Internet after the publication of the first Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specification, RFC 675 (Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program), written by Vint Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine.
1980: Milestone Bulletin Board System (BBS) emerges as one of the earliest known forms of social media and remains popular and in development until the late 1990s.
1984: FidoNet emerges as BBSs in North America and later internationally begin exchanging messages via mailboxes.
1988: IRC emerges from the roots of BBS (and was originally intended to expand it) and offers a similar service and experience. It has remained in use until today.
1995: Start Classmates, originally launched as a list of school affiliations, is launched in December 1995. Founded by Randy Conrads, the website is later expanded to include features that help former and current classmates find and contact each other online.
1996: The Israeli company Mirabilis releases ICQ.
1996: Bolt.com launches as the first social networking and video website.
1997: The social networking website SixDegrees.com is launched.
1997: AOL Instant Messenger is released.
1998: Open Diary launches the first social blogging network and invents the reader comment and friends-only content.
1998: ICQ is taken over by AOL, the service is patented.
1999: SixDegrees.com is bought by YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million.
1999: Launch Yahoo! Messenger, another popular instant messaging service.
1999: MSN Messenger (also known as Windows Live Messenger), a popular messaging, video and voice calling service, launches.
1999: Launch of LiveJournal, an early blogging platform and social network.
2000: Launch of Habbo, a game-based social networking site.
2001: Closure of SixDegrees.com.
2001: Launch of BlackPlanet, an African-American social networking service.
2001: Windows Messenger is released and shipped with Windows XP. It is an integrated version of MSN Messenger.
2002: The social networking and gaming site Friendster is launched. The service becomes popular in Asia and the Pacific Islands.
2003: The B2B social networking service LinkedIn is launched.
2003: The social networking website Hi5 is launched.
2003: XING launches.
2003: Myspace launches.
2003: Skype - instant messaging and video/voice calling (VoIP), launches.
2004: Facebook, the most popular social networking service to date, launches. Today it also offers a voice and video call service as well as a widely used instant messaging service.
2004: Launch of Flickr, an image and video hosting website. Many users use Flickr to keep personal photos. It is also often used as a platform for hosting images and videos that are later embedded in other websites and services (such as blogs).
2004: Launch of Orkut, a social networking website owned by Google.
2004: Launch of Tagged, a social discovery website
2005: The social network Bebo is launched in England.
2005: Myspace is acquired by News Corporation for 580 million dollars.
2005: Qzone, a Chinese social networking website, launches.
2005: Launch of Reddit, an American website for collecting news, rating web content and discussions.
2005: Renren, a Chinese social networking website, launches.
2005: Yahoo! acquires Flickr.
2006: DetroitCity launches the first social networking site to focus on a local area. Features included profiles for people, artists and venues. Music upload, streaming of local music, free analytics for artists and businesses, and customisable news widgets for importing local feeds.
2006: Launch of Twitter, today one of the most popular social networking sites worldwide.
2006: Launch of VK (VKontakte), an extremely popular Russian-based social networking service similar to Facebook.
2006: Facebook introduces the News Feed. The original News Feed is an algorithmically generated and constantly updated summary of updates about the activities of one's friends.
2007: Tumblr, a popular microblogging and social networking website, launches.
2007: Launch of FriendFeed, a real-time social media feed aggregator.
2007: Justin.tv launches a live streaming service that allows anyone to broadcast videos online.
2008: AOL buys Bebo for 850 million dollars
2009: FriendFeed is acquired by Facebook for $15 million in cash and $32.5 million in shares.
2009: Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, is launched.
2010: Launch of the photo-sharing website Pinterest. This service allows users to submit images or "pins" that can then be "pinned" by other users on personalised "pinboards". Users can then comment on and interact with each other's content.
2010: AOL sells ICQ to Mail.Ru (formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies) for US$185 million.
2010: Bebo is sold by AOL to Criterion Capital Partners.
2010: Launch of Instagram, a photo/video sharing and social media service.
2010: Launch of Path, a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices.
2010: Launch of Quora, a popular question-and-answer platform.
2011: Launch of Snapchat, a photo/video sharing and social media service.
2011: Microsoft acquires Skype Technologies for 8.5 billion US dollars.
2011: Launch of Google's social networking service Google+.
2011: Launch of Keek, a video sharing and social media service.
2011: Myspace is sold by News Corp. to Specific Media for $35 million.
2011: LinkedIn files for its IPO and trades its first shares under the NYSE symbol "LNKD" at US$45 per share.
2011: Twitch, a globally popular live streaming service, launches. This service is a spin-off of Justin.tv, as it focuses more on broadcasting users playing video games.
2011: Twitter revamps its website with the "Fly" design, which the service says is easier to use for new users and promotes advertising. In addition to the "Home" tab, the "Connect" and "Discover" tabs are introduced, as well as a redesigned profile and a timeline of tweets.
2012: Facebook goes public and negotiates a share price of $38 per share, valuing the company at $104 billion, the highest valuation ever for a newly listed company.
2012: Snapchat introduces video sharing. This allows users to share 10-second videos.
2012: Tinder, a widely used dating-oriented social networking service, launches.
2012: Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.
2013: Vine, a widely used video sharing and social media service, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter for $30 million.
2013: Twitter files for its IPO and begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The share closes at USD 44.90, giving the company a valuation of around USD 31 billion.
2013: Instagram introduces video sharing.
2013: Bebo is bought back from the Bebo founders by Criterion Capitol Partners for $1 million.
2013: Google's instant messaging and video/voice calling service Google Hangouts launches.
2013: Myspace relaunches with a redesigned website and mobile app.
2014: Discontinuation of Justin.tv to focus on work on Twitch.
2014: Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app, launches.
2014: Snapchat introduces collaborative timelines based on events.
2014: Amazon acquires Twitch for 970 million US dollars.
2014: Orkut is shut down by Google.
2015: Friendster is closed due to "the evolving landscape in our challenging industry" and lack of engagement from the online community.
2015: Pinterest announces the launch of Buyable Pins, a special type of pin that can be used to make purchases within Pinterest itself.
2015: Periscope, a live video sharing app, launches shortly after being acquired by Twitter.
2015: Bebo is relaunched as a messaging app for iOS and Android.
2015: Beme, an app for sharing short videos, is launched. The creators are Casey Neistat and Matt Hackett.
2015: Discord, a free instant messaging and video/voice calling (VoIP) service designed for the gaming community, launches.
2015: Meerkat, an application similar to Periscope, launches.
2016: Triller, a video editing app, is transformed into a social networking service by allowing users to follow each other and share their videos publicly.
2016: Microsoft announces that it will acquire LinkedIn for US$26.2 billion and the deal is expected to close by the end of 2016.
2016: Time Inc. buys Myspace and its parent company.
2016: Yahoo! discontinues its services for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris clients at the beginning of August 2016. It will only support Yahoo! Messenger on Android, iOS and web clients.
2016: Vine announces that Twitter is discontinuing the Vine mobile app, later renamed "Vine Camera".
2016: CNN acquires Beme, although the terms of the acquisition remain undisclosed.
2017: ByteDance acquires Musical.ly for 1 billion US dollars.
2017: Snapchat files for its IPO and begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The share closes at USD 24.48, giving the company a valuation of around USD 33 billion.
2017: TikTok, a short video sharing and social media service, launches internationally after being launched in China in 2016 under the name Douyin. Criticism: It shares data with the state and allows censorship.
2017: Co-Star, an astrological social networking service, launches.
2017: Beme is shut down on 31 January after being acquired by CNN in 2016.
2018: Yahoo! Messenger will be shut down on 17 July 2018.
2018: Musical.ly ceases operations and migrates its users to TikTok.
2018: Path announces the closure of its service on 17 September 2018. The closure takes place almost a month later, on 18 October 2018.
2018: Parler launches and describes itself as an unbiased and free alternative to larger social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
2019: Google+ will shut down in April 2019 due to low user engagement and an API bug.
2020: Byte, a social networking service for short videos and successor to Vine, launches after three years of closed beta.
2020: The VZ networks dare a new edition
2020: Clubhouse, an audio chat app for social networks, launches.
2020: India bans Chinese apps such as TikTok, Likee and WeChat, due to deteriorating bilateral relations.
2020: Facebook buys Giphy
2020: TikTok introduces business ads manager for enterprises.
2020: Trump-affiliated Twitterers move to Parler.
2020: Reels is Instagram's answer to TikTok.
2020: Facebook launches dating feature "Secret Crush".
2020: All major social media platforms now have a "Stories" feature.
2021: WeChat has 1.2 billion active users
2021: Clash acquires competitor Byte
2021: After the storming of the Capitol was largely organized via Parler, Parler is shut down at all major service providers including Google, Apple, and Amazon. They fault the lack of "moderation policies and enforcement" Parler poses a "threat to public safety".
2021: Twitter launches the audio feature "Twitter Spaces".
2021: Twitter shuts down video broadcasting app Periscope and replaces it with Twitter Live.
2021: Parler is allowed back in the app store after moderation corrections.
2021: VZ.net is closed.
2021: Users can buy products via Idea Pins on Pinterest.
2021: China sues Tencent and restricts children's playtime. Video games are "opium for the mind". Chinese children can only play games for 3 hours a week - strictly controlled by the government.
2021: Houseparty disappears from the app stores.
2021: TikTok cracks the magic mark of 1 billion users per month.
2021: The new company "Meta" bundles Facebook with all associated apps and technologies. Long-term goal: to establish the "metaverse.
2021: The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has ruled that Facebook must sell Giphy again, otherwise competition between social media platforms and in the display advertising market could be affected.
2021: After Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms, Facebook's parent company Meta launches the third attempt of a virtual reality platform: "Horizon Worlds".
2021: Meta closes 1500 user accounts of cyber mercenaries who allegedly spied on opposition figures, journalists and human rights activists for money.
2021: Reddit is currently valued at $10 billion and plans to go public.
2021: The social app Supernova launches as an alternative to Facebook, Instagram &Co. It is supposed to be an app ""without hate, racism, homophobia and extreme politics".
2022: dpa and Facebook sign a contract according to which dpa will curate Facebook News.
2022: 4.6 billion people worldwide use social media
2022: Donald Trump launches his Trith Social network as an alternative to Twitter, from which he was banned after storming the Capitol.
2022: The social networks react to the war in Ukraine with various measures: Fact checks in Russian and Ukrainian, restriction of services and a ban on advertising for Russian companies are some examples.
2022: TikTok launches partnership with Cannes Film Festival.
2022: Russia bans Facebook and Instagram.
2022: StudiVZ is shut down for good.
2022: Twitter restricts accounts from governments that restrict access to free information.
2022: Pinterest introduces guidelines against climate fake news.
2022: Elon Musk buys 9% of Twitter.
2022: Twitter buys OpenBack
2022: TikTok becomes partner of the European Song Contest 2022
2022: Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion
2022: EU launches its own social networks
2022: Elon Musk stops his Twitter purchase - there are too many fake accounts. Twitter must now search for and delete them.
2022: TikTok becomes a partner of various music festivals in Germany and releases an album with Warner Music.
2022: TikTok launches a training program for SMEs to encourage them to share their brand messages on TikTok.
2022: Twitter launches "Twitter Circle," a tool that allows tweets to be visible only to certain groups.
2022: Youtube shorts and meta reels are becoming more important compared to "classic" posts.
2022: Ireland fines Instagram 405 million euros for violating data protection laws when handling data of children and young people.
2022: TikTok cooperates with the Frankfurt Book Fair.
2022: Iran blocks Instagram.
2022: Snapchat partners with LaLiga to attract older users.
2022: Google lets Truth Social into the Play Store.
2022: TikTok allegedly tracks its users, according to Forbes magazine. The company denies this.
2022: TikTok , Syco, Universal Music Group and Samsung join forces to launch StemDrop, a tool that allows TikTok users to create their own version of songs specially provided by well-known songwriters.
2022: TikTok cooperates with 14 German-speaking cultural institutions with #OnStage.
2022: After much back and forth, Elon Musk takes over Twitter after all. He fires more than half of the employees and the entire management team.
2022: WhatsApp launches "Communieites".This will allow users to connect related group chats under a single banner.
2022: Meta lays off staff en masse: 13% or about 11,000 people.
2022: Applications for the ESC 2023 (also) run via TikTok.
2022: Chaos reigns at Twitter. Advertising customers are bailing out. Bankruptcy is not out of the question. Elon Musk also sees Twitter as a bank in the long term.
2022: After the US Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), the FBI is now also investigating TikTok for possible links to the Chinese government.
2022: Elon Musk demands 80-hour weeks from the remaining employees - many quit.
2022: Researchers develop deep-fake AI to protect against facial recognition on social media.
2022: Trump and other "banned" people are allowed back in after a vote among Twitter users. Trump, however, does not tweet so far.