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Looking Back on a Decade of Social Media

Social media is one of the many indicators of how different life was 5, 10, even 20 years ago. The first social media platform was launched in 1997, and opened the doors for an entirely new method of communication. People were suddenly able to speak to their friends (and some strangers) without having to leave their home or tie up the landline. 

What was once used solely for keeping up with school friends or the latest gossip, has now become one of the most popular forms of communication. Every day, people log on to see news about the world, catch up with friends from college, and even meet their significant other. It all began 23 years ago.

Six Degrees was launched in 1997, and is considered by most to be the first social media platform. The website allowed users to build a profile, add other users as friends, and to send private messages, which are just a few of the aspects seen in modern-day social networking sites. 

Following the appearance of Six Degrees, blogging websites, such as LiveJournal began to gain popularity. The early 2000s saw the launch of several other popular platforms, many the first of their kind. Myspace made its first appearance in 2003, followed by Facebook launching in 2004. Youtube was launched in 2005 and gave users a new way to communicate: creating, viewing, and sharing videos. The end of the decade saw the introductions of popular sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. 2010 marked the beginning of the most transformative decade of social media.

With UT Social Media Week celebrating its 10th year, let’s take a look back at how social media platforms have evolved over the last decade.


Facebook hit its seventh anniversary in 2011, right as the Messenger app was introduced to the world. Less than 1 billion people were signing on monthly to keep

Decade of Social Mediaup with their friends and family. At this point in time, the “Like” button was only two years old, and the mobile application was still up for discussion. Through the early years of the decade, Facebook began supporting hashtags, allowing users to edit their posts, as well as the addition of live-streaming in 2015. The final years of the decade saw the addition of Marketplace and job searching, as well as approaching 2 billion monthly users.


Most liked pages of the decade, according to Social Blade:
  1. Facebook App (209 million likes)
  2. Samsung (160 million likes)
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo (124 million likes)
  4. China Global TV Network (114 million likes)
  5. Real Madrid CF (110 million likes)


The Instagram of 2011 is only a distant (and somewhat grainy) memory. The 

Decade of Social Media

beginning years of the platform consisted of hazy in-app filters, daily posting “challenges”, and many iPhone 4 selfies. The app was a very casual way of keeping up with friends and family through photos. Through the decade, the app has continually kept up with the ever changing landscape of social media. Influencers 

dominate the app with posed professional photos and paid sponsorships. Gone are the days of taking a grainy photo of lunch and uploading 5 minutes later with not a care in the world. The app has introduced live-streaming and a recent shopping platform within the app, just to name a few major changes through the years. It has also transformed from a solely mobile application to offering a desktop version as well.


Most liked posts of the decade, according to Statista:
  1. The World Record Egg – @world_record_egg (54.8 million likes)Decade of Social Media
  2. XXXTentacion’s Last Post – @xxxtentacion (23.5 million likes)Decade of Social Media
  3. Kylie Jenner’s First Photo of Her Daughter – @kyliejenner (18.5 million likes)Decade of Social Media


YouTube was officially registered in 2005 and quickly became the internet’s go-to source for viral (and regular) video content. In 2011, YouTube broke ground by

Decade of Social Mediaintroducing its live video services and allowing users to stream content on the site, and later in the year, it offered site analytics to content creators. Remember YouTube’s first video to crack 1 billion views? It was the 2012 music video to “Gangnam Style,” the song by Korean rapper Psy. This record was broken numerous times, with the most viewed video of all time being “Baby Shark Dance” in 2016,  which has gathered an astounding 8 billion views to date. YouTube is the second most visited website as of January 2021.


Most viewed videos of the decade, according to Statista:
  1. Baby Shark Dance – PinkFong (8 billion views)
  2. Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee (7.2 billion views)
  3. Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (5.2 billion views)
  4. See You Again – Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth (5.0 billion views)
  5. Johny Johny Yes Papa – Loo Loo Kids (4.8 billion views)


Twitter initially limited users to 140 character

Decade of Social Media

 tweets, without the option to share photos or videos. Modern day Twitter allows users to share photos

and video and share tweets of up to 280 characters. It has seen substantial  growth in terms of monthly users through the last several years, growing from 54 million in 2011 to 340 million today.


Most liked tweets of the decade, according to Twitter:
  1. Chadwick Boseman’s Passing – @chadwickboseman (7.5 million likes)Decade of Social Media
  2. Joe Biden Inauguration Day – @joebiden (4.2 million likes)                                       Decade of Social Media
  3. Barack Obama After Charlottesville Riots – @barackobama (4.2 million likes)              Decade of Social Media