from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Website logo
“Facebook allows you to connect and share content with the people in your life.
An open and connected world.”
social network
languages English , Spanish , German , French , Chinese and 79 more
operator MetaPlatforms
user 2.5 billion monthly active users
Registration Yes
On-line Feb 4, 2004
(updated Dec 2019)
The "F" logo
The “ Like ” button has become a familiar icon

Facebook (proper spelling: facebook ) is a social network operated by the US company Meta Platforms . In 2019, sales were $ 70.7 billion .

Facebook allows the creation of personal profiles to represent oneself, pages for business or artistic presence, and groups to discuss common interests. The profiles can be networked with each other through friend requests or subscriptions, with an unlimited number of subscribers (similar to followers on Twitter ) being possible, but the maximum number of directly connected friends remains limited to 5000. In addition, Facebook offers a messenger and a development platform for creating application software .

According to its own statements, the network, which was founded in 2004, had around 2.5 billion members in the fourth quarter of 2019, who visited the site at least once a month. According to Alexa , in the fourth quarter of 2020, Facebook was ranked 8th worldwide (2016: 3rd, 2019: 4th, 2020: 7th) and 20th in Germany (2016: 6th, 2019: 7th, 2020: 15th) of the most visited websites . According to other statistics, it still had 30 million active users in Germany in May 2017, but this number fell to 25.9 million by the end of 2019.

Since its release, Facebook has faced criticism, particularly from European privacy advocates and security experts, for poor privacy practices. In 2010, the Federal Association of Consumer Centers in Germany even advised against using the offer.

Facebook's importance as a news channel was documented for 2015 by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford . According to this, 23% of 1,969 respondents of all age groups across Germany received news from Facebook. In the US, that figure was 41% of 23,557 respondents. According to a long-term study by the TU Darmstadt and the TU Dresden , around 91 percent of all online news from media companies in Germany in 2014 was distributed via the Facebook Like and Share buttons . Despite this reach, according to the user 's own information, only 5% of the entire news feed consists of news.


The name refers to the so-called Facebooks ( English literally: "face book", analogous to: "yearbook") with pictures of students that are distributed at some US colleges .


Mark Zuckerberg (2005)

In 2003, Mark Zuckerberg developed the website facemash.com , the predecessor of Facebook, while studying psychology and computer science at Harvard University . It was a rating system for the appearance of women that was only public for a few days due to protests. Zuckerberg posted photos of female students online without their permission and asked visitors to the site to choose the most attractive of two randomly selected photos.

Facebook in its current form has been in existence since the spring of 2004. Harvard's web-based version of the official, printed yearbooks had been slow to get off the ground due to privacy concerns. The expanded concept spread through the Ivy League universities and then worldwide. In September 2011, the platform reached around 800 million members worldwide. In addition to Mark Zuckerberg , students Eduardo Saverin , Dustin Moskovitz , and Chris Hughes were involved in the project. In addition, Napster co-founder Sean Parker joined the team as a consultant in 2004 and received a seven percent stake in Facebook. After being arrested for cocaine possession , Parker was forced to leave Facebook.

The company Facebook Inc. has existed since February 4, 2004. The initial listing on the stock exchange announced on February 2, 2012 was implemented on May 18, 2012. In the first week after the IPO, the share price fell from $38 to around $33. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Facebook of withholding information from small investors. They filed class action lawsuits for damages.

On February 19, 2014, Facebook Inc. bought messenger service WhatsApp for $4 billion in cash and $15 billion in Facebook stock. As part of the sale, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum joined the Facebook board of directors.

On March 25, 2014, Facebook Inc. announced the acquisition of Oculus VR . Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in Facebook stock.

In December 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would sell 99% of his shares in Facebook. On August 23, 2016, the Facebook boss sold the first block of shares worth 95 million euros to financially support the Chan Zuckerberg initiative. The company's share price was hardly affected. Since the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative is not a real foundation, but a limited liability company , Zuckerberg can keep taxes low and present himself as a benefactor in the media.

In the spring of 2018, the company came under increasing public scrutiny after the 2016 United States election manipulation special investigation revealed that Russian Federation agents had used Facebook to influence the US presidential election campaign. It also became known that the British company Cambridge Analytica misused data from up to 87 million Facebook users.

Three months before the 2020 United States presidential election , Mark Zuckerberg announced a series of actions to counter misinformation and hoaxes or fake news about Facebook. One of the many actions was the removal of sites like QAnon that spread conspiracy theories on Facebook. Facebook Inc. claimed to have discovered and deleted a total of 4.5 billion fake accounts on Facebook from January 2020 to September 2020.

In July 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to transform Facebook into the Metaverse .

On October 4, 2021, due to a self-inflicted error in the network reconfiguration, the platform was down for several hours from 5:30 p.m. CEST, which also affected WhatsApp and Instagram. WhatsApp employees were cut off from access to conference rooms.


Facebook at the 2010 London ad tech show
Rhaetian Railway locomotive as an advertising medium

Every Facebook user has a profile page where they can introduce themselves and upload photos and videos. This page can be accessed at www.facebook.com/Username . On the profile, visitors can leave public (or only for their friends) visible messages or publish comments on the profile owner's own posts. However, Facebook became known for the Like button , which allows you to express your approval of something with just one click. As an alternative to public messages, users can send personal messages or chat . Groups can be created for areas of common interest , and friends can be invited to events . Facebook also has a marketplace where users can post and view classified ads.

The identity of newly registered users is initially only checked using the e-mail address. In October 2010, an employee of TechCrunch news magazine reported that he had created a Facebook account in the name of Google executive Eric Schmidt with his correct email address . Since Facebook already allows actions such as setting up a profile and sending private messages to accounts that have not yet responded to the confirmation message, Eric Schmidt's fake account received private messages from various acquaintances who believed the account to be real.

Until 2012, the profile page was the home page on Facebook. To see all of your friends' activities, you had to go to each friend's profile page individually. With the introduction of the news feed, this information was automatically displayed on the home page.

profile and history

On December 16, 2011, the chronicle function ( English timeline ) was activated. The user should be able to display his life chronologically or keep a kind of diary. While the chronicle could initially be optionally activated by users, it has been automatic since autumn 2012 and is also activated as a Facebook start page on older accounts. All of the user's messages also appear here, and he can choose who is allowed to see them.

Facebook Pages

Facebook not only offers profiles for private individuals , but also so-called Facebook Pages for artists, well-known people, companies and brands . Unlike members' profiles and group posts, Pages are also visible to non-Facebook users. The following page categories are distinguished:

  • local business or place;
  • company, organization or institution;
  • brand or product;
  • artist, band or public person;
  • Entertainment;
  • good cause or community.

Many Facebook pages serve as part of social media marketing or public relations activities. As a rule, it is easier to acquire fans on Facebook the more emotional a product or service is.

Since October 2012, selected advertising customers ( Facebook Business Partners ) have been able to combine several pages under a single address and a uniform dashboard with a "Global Page" . Visitors see the appropriate content based on their language and location.

A site structure can be requested for companies with multiple physical locations. The Facebook pages of each location are subordinate to the main page in order to inherit content and user roles from the parent page. You can also assign individual rights and share content. Contact details and opening times can be set for each location and users are informed of locations in their vicinity via a map view.

Facebook groups

Any user can set up groups on Facebook, for example to discuss a topic like in an Internet forum . A group can be public (visible to everyone) or private (posts are only visible to members). Regardless of this, you can specify whether the group itself is visible to others or not. (These settings were called public , closed, and secret until August 2019 ). It can be specified that new members are admitted immediately, after confirmation by an administrator or after confirmation by each member. You can also set whether new posts by members are immediately visible to everyone or only after approval by an administrator or moderator. Many groups were formed to discuss current affairs in a city, to sell or give away things. In groups, there are some different functions compared to general use. In this way, a group administrator can see every group member, even if they have been blocked by them. All other group members, on the other hand, only see profiles and discussion contributions if the respective participant has not blocked the other one. Multiple administrators and moderators can be designated for a group.


Facebook has a search function to find friends or groups. On January 15, 2013, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Graph Search as a new search method. As semantic software, this can interpret conditions instead of just keywords , as was previously the case . Facebook wants to answer questions like Find all friends who were in Berlin yesterday. Graph Search supports People, Photos, Places and Interests. More content (posts, comments, events) and languages ​​will follow.

Since June 2013, Facebook has offered the option of using hashtags . These are intended to facilitate the search for current content. This also includes so-called trending hashtags , which are given particularly frequently in one's own circle of friends.


From 2008 to 2013, Facebook offered its own currency based on the model of Second Life , the units of which are called Facebook Credits . The virtual currency could be purchased with credit cards , for example . It could be used for commercial applications and games on Facebook, but could not be converted back into real money. Facebook kept a share of every transaction, initially 30 percent. The virtual currency could also be accepted by providers outside the social network via the Facebook API . On September 12, 2013, Facebook discontinued its own virtual currency and since then has also been using local currencies in APIs again. In 2019, Facebook founded Libra Networks in Geneva to launch an online payment service.


Facebook Watch is a Facebook video-on-demand service for series, shows, documentaries and user videos, launched on August 9, 2017. The service is available on mobile devices, computers and in the Facebook TV apps . The users should interact more socially with the videos, for example by watching, rating, commenting and seeing what the other users are saying.

Facebook Safety Check

With Safety Check , Facebook helps relatives or other potential victims to quickly find out about connected people in the event of disasters and similar events. The activation of the function is perceived by the media as a sign of catastrophes or other serious events such as terrorist attacks.

Facebook apps

Facebook created separate apps for the main functions (feed and profiles) as well as for sub-functions. These are distributed free of charge via the app marketplaces of the common operating systems.

Facebook app and lite version

The Facebook app is available for using Facebook on mobile devices . A lite version is also available for Android. This requires significantly less memory and a lower data volume than the regular app. But it lacks little needed functions. The Lite version was released in Germany on March 16, 2018. There is also a Lite version for Messenger.

Facebook Messenger

An application for text and audio communication for the operating systems iOS and Android exists under the name Facebook Messenger . It is integrated with Facebook's web chat function, but can be used independently as an app. Technically it is based on the open message protocol MQTT .

In cooperation with Skype , Facebook presented a video conference function on July 6, 2011 under the motto "Sometimes emoticons just aren't enough" . This requires a webcam . The conversation took place after a plug-in installation in the browser. There was also the option of automatically viewing contacts from Facebook in Skype. News from the network were also presented. Members of the social network could log into Skype without re-registering.

At the beginning of 2013, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the iOS version of Facebook Messenger would now also support free calls using Voice over IP . This service is now available in many countries, including Germany.

In November 2014 the company reported 500 million users, in July 2016 it was already one billion.

On April 28, 2015, Facebook launched its own free video call function via Messenger in competition with Skype and Facetime .

Facebook Creator

Facebook Creator evolved from the earlier Mentions app . This was only available to well-known personalities with a verified profile. Today, every site operator can use the app. The possibility of staying in contact with fans or followers should thus be improved. Posts can also be shared on Twitter or Instagram at the same time. Furthermore, Q&A can be held live. A Facebook creator creates videos for an audience. Statistics in the app primarily relate to video usage by viewers and subscribers. It is currently available for Apple and Android devices, and the service has been available in Germany since August 2014.

Facebook Business Suite

The Facebook Business Suite app is available for the professional management of business profiles and pages .

Facebook home

In April 2013, Facebook announced the launch of several applications for the Android operating system . Once installed, Facebook Home replaced the smartphone 's lock screen with new images and messages from friends. It was also possible to reply to messages and SMS without sharing the device. Since the end of 2013, Facebook Home is no longer available in the Google Play Store.

Third Party Applications

In August 2006, Facebook opened its platform to third-party applications via an application programming interface (API). Programs use their data with the permission of the users. Facebook members can integrate these programs, such as games and other communication applications, into their profile pages. In October 2009, more than 350,000 such applications were available. However, only a small proportion of them reach more than 100,000 users per month.

The opening of the platform helped to increase the number of users. Some apps are designed to spread quickly, violating privacy laws. To counteract this, applications can be blocked. However, in April 2019, during court hearings on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook emphasized that by using the Facebook page, you give up your right to privacy worldwide.

Some offerings help assess the privacy compliance of third-party applications.

Since spring 2012, the Facebook App Center has been bundling applications available for Facebook in a central location, such as in the App Store , in order to improve clarity and make Facebook more attractive for developers .


The social network is mostly financed through advertising . This is done on Facebook through so-called sponsored stories , which appear in the newsfeed like normal posts and can be commented on and forwarded if necessary. In principle, every Facebook page, every website and, for example, every Facebook event can be advertised. Placing advertisements is offered to all users, the price is calculated using a hidden auction system. The concept is constantly being adapted based on user behavior: In September 2017, the Ads Manager and the Power Editor were combined.

The effectiveness of advertising on Facebook is controversial. There are studies in which the return on investment was rated higher than with other media, especially compared to television . On the other hand, there are companies that judge the purpose of advertising on Facebook mostly negatively. For example, the automotive group General Motors decided in May 2012 to end campaigns on Facebook because this type of advertising on social networks had too little influence on consumers.

Due to worldwide criticism, Facebook has announced more transparency in the area of ​​political election advertising and is publicly providing data on election advertising and advertising on politically or socially relevant topics in the Facebook advertising report.

Development of user numbers

Facebook logo until July 2015
Facebook logo by 2019

According to Facebook, around 955 million members logged in at least once in October 2012. Personal user profiles are counted, but not so-called pages of music bands and companies, for example. In fact, on the one hand profiles can be used by several people, for example if a club creates a profile instead of a page, on the other hand individual people can create several profiles. User information such as name, gender, age and origin are usually not checked by Facebook and are not always true. However, there are clear terms of use, compliance with which can be checked in individual cases. Facebook itself estimated in mid-2012 that around 5 to 6 percent of monthly active profiles are fake or duplicate profiles, i.e. around 50 million. At the turn of the year 2013, Facebook calculated 76 million accounts that violate Facebook's guidelines (7.2% of all accounts: 5% duplicate user accounts, 1.3% misclassified accounts, 0.9% spam accounts). With a total of around 2.2 billion active users, Facebook deleted almost 1.3 billion fake profiles in the two quarters at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 alone. The following statistical statements therefore do not correspond to the number of people who actually use Facebook.

Number of users from 2004 to 2017 in millions
State overview
Most Member States (December 2021)
rank Country members
1. India India 349 million
2. United States United States 194 million
3. Indonesia Indonesia 143 million
4. Brazil Brazil 127 million
5. Mexico Mexico 96 million
6. Philippines Philippines 91 million
7. Vietnam Vietnam 74 million
8th. Thailand Thailand 55 million
9. Bangladesh Bangladesh 48 million
10 Egypt Egypt 48 million
11. Pakistan Pakistan 47 million

At the end of 2011, Germany was ranked 10th with 22.1 million members, Switzerland 49th with 2.73 million and Austria 50th with 2.68 million.

* A total of 211 states are reported on Facebook. However, the listing does not reflect the official UN list of countries . In addition to a large number of states that are not recognized by the UN as independent states, there are also a number of UN-recognized states that are not available for election on Facebook: Ivory Coast, Guinea, Iran, Cuba, Liberia, Montserrat, Myanmar, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Syria.

In 2011, South/Central America recorded the strongest growth rate with a growth of 77.3%, followed by Africa (+62.3%), Asia (+56.4%), Europe (+25.7%), Oceania (+ 10.9%) and North America (+6.3%). Brazil recorded the strongest absolute growth with 26.4 million, followed by India (+24.1 million), Mexico (+12.7 million), the USA (+10.4 million) and Indonesia ( +10.0 million). With 8.2 million (+58.8%), Germany had the sixth strongest overall growth. In Austria, 421,000 members (+18.6%) and in Switzerland 244,000 (+9.8%) were added.

In July 2012 it became known that Facebook in Germany was losing active users to a measurable extent for the first time. In May, 23.95 million users were active on the social network, but only 23.75 million in June. Irrespective of this, according to the annual report from Facebook itself at the end of December 2012, there were more than 1.06 billion active users worldwide. The 2020 annual report featured more than 1.8 billion users logging in daily.

Traditionally, Facebook releases little information about its members. However, in August 2012, a platform was created with Facebook Stories , on which selected users of the platform are presented. The focus is on entertaining or exciting members. Facebook is publicly seeking prospects for Facebook Stories.


Global market penetration (ratio of Facebook members to total population) was 11.7% at the end of 2011. In a continental comparison, North America has the highest value with a density of 50.3%, followed by Oceania (35%), Europe (26.1%) and South/Central America (24.9%). Africa (5.3%) and Asia (5.1%) bring up the rear.

State overview
Market Penetration (MD)
lf. Country md
1. Monaco Monaco 103.9%*
2. Iceland Iceland 66.1%
3. Gibraltar Gibraltar 65.4%
4. Faroese Faroe Islands 61.7%
5. brunei brunei 58.3%
market penetration
lf. Country md
211 China People's Republic People's Republic of China 0.04%
210 Turkmenistan Turkmenistan 0.2%
209 Samoan American American Samoa 0.3%
208 Niger Niger 0.3%
207 burundi burundi 0.4%

The US has a market penetration of 50.6%, Indonesia 17.6% and India 3.4%. Other national values: Germany 27.1%, Switzerland 35.0%, Austria 32.0%, GB 49.3%, Italy 34.5%, Japan 4.9% and Russia 4.9% (see vk.com ) .

* In December 2011, more people than the total number of registered residents of Monaco accessed their personal Facebook page from there.


Facebook does not show gender in its own statistics. However, based on planning tools for advertisements, a largely equal distribution can be assumed.

Since 2014, members using Facebook in US English have been able to choose from 50 gender labels.


Since 2017, the media has been reporting tendencies that Facebook is clearly losing out to young users, as they also frequently use platforms such as YouTube , Instagram or Snapchat . Among 14- to 19-year-old Internet users, the proportion of Facebook users fell from 90 percent to 61 percent from 2013 to 2017, while the proportion of Facebook users over 60 increased from 47 to 70 percent of Internet users. In the media, the question is raised as to whether Facebook will soon be the social network for older people (“Senior People's Meeting”).


The Facebook network is organized centrally: All stored data is under the control of Meta Platforms . The company also largely controls what data is shared with which users. Direct control by the network member is limited and there are no intermediaries. Communication between members is mediated via the central server.

The software used is proprietary on the server and client side , but extensive parts have also been published as free software.

At the end of 2012, Facebook operated about 180,000 servers in two data centers in the USA. According to Facebook, they process around 500 terabytes a day , which is fed, among other things, from 300 million new photos. With the help of software called Project PRISM , the data is evenly distributed across several data centers.

On June 12, 2013, Facebook opened a first European server farm in Luleå , Sweden . The city in northern Sweden was chosen to keep infrastructure cooling costs to a minimum.

Since the end of October 2014, Facebook has been accessible via its own address in the Tor network ( https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/ ), in order to facilitate access for people in countries where access to Facebook is made more difficult by censorship.

Facebook is currently planning and operating at least 12 data centers. Three are located in Europe (Ireland, Sweden, Denmark).


The operating system CentOS is mainly used as the operating system . Instead of the Apache HTTP server , which was used in the first few years, we now use our own software to deliver the websites. The server software uses the PHP programming language for which the HipHop interpreter was developed in order to optimize speed. Apache Cassandra served as the database until mid-2011 . It has been replaced with a combination of HBase , HDFS , and Haystack .

Some of the software created at Facebook has been released to the general public as open source software . Facebook also supports many projects financially. Facebook is a Platinum Sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation .


For mobile operating systems, Facebook ships "native" applications that the device's processor executes without an intermediary interpreting layer. Until August 2012, the iOS app was largely a web application implemented with HTML5 . The current app was rewritten in Objective-C due to the lack of speed .

As part of the Instagram takeover , Facebook released the Facebook Camera application for iOS, which has also been available in Germany since September 2012 . This is used to take and share photos on the social network, whereby you can apply filters to images like Instagram.

Facebook has been part of both operating systems since Apple iOS 6.0 and Mountain Lion 10.8.2 . You could log into Facebook and receive or send messages without installing additional programs. With iOS 11 and OS X 10.14 (Mojave) this integration was omitted.


The Open Graph Protocol is the successor to the Facebook Connect interface . It provides developers with access to the Facebook API . They can use data from the social network with their own applications. During the f8 developer conference in 2010, Facebook introduced social plugins as templates for external websites. With these plug-ins, you can integrate small applications into your own portals with minimal effort .

If you use such a module with WordPress , meta elements are automatically inserted into the header area of ​​articles and pages, so that content can be shared in a targeted manner in the social network. Individual articles or entire pages are automatically classified and semantically marked. Social plugins turn individual articles or websites into a graph object with a specific ID. Developers can get relevant details about individual objects via Facebook. Since individual articles can be classified by meta elements, Open Graph eliminates the need to create a separate page for each individual piece of web content that is to be shared on Facebook.

The process is as follows: You visit any website with a "Like" button. Clicking on it makes the activity visible in your own "Facebook timeline". Friends also get insights into these preferences. Conversely, you can see for yourself which friends marked content by clicking on the "Like" button. The most popular social plugins are the Like Button , the Like Box , and the Facebook Comment Box , which allows blogs to outsource their comments to Facebook. There are also applications for recommendations and an "Activity Stream".

As of July 2010, over a million websites were using Open Graph capabilities. Especially online media integrated social plugins to attract more visitors.


Since February 2010, Facebook has officially supported the XMPP protocol , on which Jabber Instant Messenger is also based. In this way, non-Facebook third-party applications could connect to the social network and participate in Facebook chat . In principle, the integration works with any XMPP-enabled client, Pidgin , Adium and iChat are explicitly mentioned in the official help . The e-mail address provided by Facebook or the short name of the profile was used as the user name for registration. With the switch to the Graph API v2.0 on April 30, 2015, support for XMPP was also discontinued and a login has not been possible since then.

Network Enforcement Act

Since the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) ​​came into force on October 1, 2017, Facebook in Germany has had a stronger obligation to remove hate comments and other criminal content. The NetzDG was criticized for the fact that social media operators could also block legal content for fear of fines. In the case of Facebook, this fear has hardly come true in comparison to other social media. While YouTube received 215,000 complaints from users for violations of the NetzDG in the first half of the year since it came into force, Facebook received 1,700 reported content, as users on Facebook can choose between complaints based on violations of the Facebook Community Standards and the NetzDG.

Protection of minors and dependency

In December 2009, Facebook formed an advisory board to regularly review user security practices. This consists of representatives from the following five organisations: Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, WiredSafety, Childnet International and The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).

With this, Facebook is taking another measure to create a safer environment for young people online, following the network's participation in the Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF) and agreements reached in 2008 with 49 United States Attorneys General and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia had signed for better protection of minors . In it, Facebook commits to the following principles:

  • to specifically warn minors against the sharing of personal data;
  • not allowing adults to find profiles of minors in search engines;
  • Complicate and log changes in profile age;
  • Filter content better and keep a list of pornographic offers and delete links to them.

Likewise, Facebook overhauled its privacy controls in December 2009 . When status messages, media or links are published, every user can now decide who is allowed to see them and who is not. Every Facebook user was asked to check their privacy settings. You can now differentiate between your own contacts, friends of friends and the entire Facebook network. Content from underage users should only be visible to friends, contacts and classmates.

Facebook also cooperates with MTV and the BBC against digital abuse and cyberbullying . Nevertheless, there have already been murders as a result of bullying on the network, for example in the so-called "Facebook murder" in the Netherlands in 2012, which killed a user who was spreading sex rumors about a former girlfriend online.

In April 2012, Norwegian researchers published the “Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS)”, a psychological test to determine the degree of addiction to a social network.

exit and exit movements

On May 31, 2010, the first Quit Facebook Day was held. "Deactivating" the account does not delete any data. Previously, users had to wait 14 days for their profile and data to be deleted. In early October 2018, Facebook extended this period to 30 days.

A study by the University of Vienna from 2013 examined the motivations for leaving Facebook. The most common reasons were concerns about privacy (48%) ahead of a general dislike of Facebook (14%), negative experiences with Facebook friends (13%) and feeling addicted to Facebook (6%). It found that people who quit Facebook are more concerned about their privacy, have higher Internet Addiction scores, and are more conscientious.

According to a study by researchers from NYU and Stanford published in early 2020, test subjects spent more time with family and acquaintances during a paid deactivation of their Facebook accounts, expressed greater well-being and felt less incentive to resume use. At the same time, both the level of information and the political polarization of the sample had decreased.

criticism and litigation


First and foremost, Facebook is accused of deficiencies in data protection or an overly careless handling of its users' data. Other points of criticism are the monopoly position, the acquisition of competing companies and the dissemination of false reports.

Most of the criticism relates to the intensive collection of personal data to create personalized advertising. In particular, the forwarding of address books via the WhatsApp app purchased from Facebook and the collection of data via third-party websites using the "Like" button, even from people who do not have a Facebook account, were criticized. Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Congress and the European Parliament for sharing user data with third-party companies without users' consent .

The facial recognition software used within the network was also criticized. Facebook urged users, with no indication of the legal ramifications, to add names to portraits isolated from group photos using facial recognition, but doing so without the consent of the subjects is prohibited. According to data protection officials, it is also "worrying that Facebook is building a facial recognition database with millions of users in the background for this function".

Facebook insidiously introduced many new things that were problematic in terms of data protection law, such as information about which "friends" are currently online and how (with a smartphone app or on a PC) or when they were last online. In May 2012, Stiftung Warentest criticized the fact that the Facebook app sent parts of the smartphone address book unencrypted and not anonymously.

Facebook operator Meta announced in November 2021 that it would shut down its facial recognition system. The records of more than a billion people or their stored face data would be deleted, said Jerome Pesenti, vice president for artificial intelligence at the new Facebook parent company Meta. However, Facebook does not want to say goodbye to the technology entirely. The company is trying to balance the positive use cases for the technology "against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have not yet established clear rules." We see "a number of cases where facial recognition can be of great value to users of the platform".

In France, on May 16, 2017, Facebook was fined 150,000 euros for its handling of user data. On May 18, 2017, the public learned that the EU Commission fined Facebook with a sum of 110 million euros for misleading information in the takeover of the short message service WhatsApp.

In February 2019, the Bundeskartellamt banned the merging of Instagram and WhatsApp data unless the users had given their express consent. Facebook appealed the ban.

In July 2019 it was announced that Facebook had to pay more than five billion US dollars in fines and change its structure for data protection violations.

In April 2021, unknown persons published a large amount of Facebook user data from a previous data leak in a hacker forum. It includes, among other things, around 533 million mobile phone numbers and 2.5 million e-mail addresses .

market position

At the beginning of March 2016 it became known that the Federal Cartel Office initiated legal proceedings against Facebook, the Irish subsidiary and the German offshoot in Hamburg on the suspicion that Facebook was abusing its market position through the contractual provisions for user data.

Additionally, as part of the ongoing legislative process to protect editorial content and reward public media and newspaper publishers accordingly, the Australian government has released a draft that could require Facebook to make payments for content.

In response, Facebook blocked regional content for all of Australia, particularly government content. This also affects the Covid-19 vaccination program and related health information.

As a source of information

During the 2016 US presidential election campaign , false reports circulated on Facebook that could have had an impact on voting behavior. For example, a message that the Pope supports Donald Trump was invented and was viewed millions of times. The New York Times criticizes that Facebook denies having any influence on elections. There is a problem with false positives and the echo chamber effect . The European Commission called for Facebook to do more to combat false reports.

The dissemination of hateful and politically or religiously radical content was repeatedly criticized.

Since March 2020, Facebook has been fighting false reports about the COVID-19 pandemic , deleting false claims and has banned the advertising of pseudo-drugs against Corona.

According to research by the Wall Street Journal in September 2021, 5.8 million accounts were on an internal Facebook list that had special rules. Facebook is said to have systematically protected prominent users from consequences if they posted false information, insults or even naked pictures of third parties. After the publications, the so-called Oversight Board, the group's formally independent review body, got involved.

In her 2021 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Maria Ressa attacked Facebook, calling the digital network a "deluge of toxic sludge" on social media. The tech giants "allowed a virus of lies to infect each one of us" to capitalize on hate.

dealing with contemporary history

The procedures for deleting user profiles are also under criticism. So e.g. For example, the profile of Norwegian author Tom Egeland was deleted because he used the world-famous photo The Terror of War in a report , which shows the then 9-year-old napalm victim Kim Phúc naked. Weeks later, Norway's largest daily newspaper , Aftenposten , was deleted for reporting on the case. When Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg commented on an open letter from the editor-in-chief of Aftenposten to Mark Zuckerberg on her Facebook page and in this context posted the photo "Terror of War", the picture was deleted from the post three hours later without her doing anything. Criticism came u. from the German Association of Journalists: "You have to be able to expect so much media competence from Facebook that a distinction is made between a contemporary historical document and child pornography".


In June 2020, several major companies, such as Adidas , Aviva , Coca-Cola , Ford , HP , Intercontinental Hotels Group , Mars , Starbucks , Target and Unilever announced that they will pause their ads on Facebook in July to support the Stop Hate support for-profit campaign. This movement accuses Facebook of not taking enough action against hate messages. According to the BBC, the boycott will hardly affect Facebook because the majority of advertisers are small to medium-sized companies.

Decisions of the German Federal Court of Justice on the general terms and conditions

In July 2021, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) declared Facebook's terms and conditions for deleting posts and blocking users to be invalid. The deletion rules as of April 19, 2018 are ineffective (Az. III ZR 179/20 and III ZR 192/20) because Facebook “does not undertake at the same time to inform the user about the removal of his contribution at least retrospectively and about an intended blocking of his to inform the user account in advance, to inform him of the reason for this and to give him the opportunity to make a counter-statement with a subsequent new decision".


A selection:


Facebook founded Social Science One to encourage research using their data. Facebook data is used for various scientific studies. A study examined how Facebook users interact with socially shared messages and showed that individuals' choices played a stronger role in limiting exposure to cross-sectional content. Another study found that most health science students purchased academic materials from others through Facebook.

Signals from Facebook are also used in the quality assessment of scientific work.


radio reports

web links

Commons : Facebook  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Facebook  – Explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations


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