The Evolution of Facebook’s Mission Statement

facebook 4 0 The Evolution of Facebooks Mission StatementFacebook’s mission statement seems simple: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

But examine the changes in language from their slightly more subtle tagline, before they edited it in 2008: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”

Facebook, now at a $6.5 billion valuation according to The New York Times‘ Brad Stone, seems to be trying to reshape itself. No longer for merely posting pictures of drunk people from the holiday party, Facebook now empowers users to change the world by posting links, connecting with other influencers, sharing stories, and donating and buying products. Facebook shifted their own power status by being more open—allowing people beyond the Ivy Leagues to join the site and allow developers to build applications on the platform. Since everyone seems to be on Facebook (even our dads!), every brand, media company, gamer, author and Sal and Susie feel like they have to join so they can engage with the rest of the world. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s “portal for the masses,” as CNET’s Dan Barber put it.

Michael Galpert, co-founder of the Web-based creative application suite at Aviary.com, put together a blog post  and a slideshow this morning, displaying how Facebook’s tagline has changed since it was founded. He used “the way back machine and Chris Messina’s Flickr page,” to create it, Mr. Galpert wrote. Here’s an outline:

–Thefacebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges [Harvard only][2004]

–Thefacebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges [Limited to your own College or University][2004]

–The Facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools [Now there are two Facebooks: one for people in college and one for people in high school] [2005]

–Facebook is an online directory that connects people through social networks at schools [2006]

–Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you [Facebook is made up of lots of separate networks – things like schools, companies, and regions] [2006]

–Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you. [upload photos or publish notes – get the latest news from your friends – post videos on your profile – tag your friends – use privacy settings to control who sees your info – join a network to see people who live, study, or work around you] [2007]

–Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you. [Use Facebook to… keep up with friends and family, share photos and videos, control privacy online , reconnect with old classmates] [2008]

–Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life. [2008]

–Facebook gives people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.[2009]

Facebook representatives did not return messages for comment about this evolution of their mission statement, the process of each tagline’s creation and how it influences the company.

But Mr. Galpert gave The Observer his own take: “Facebook in the early days strived to make everyone connected via their social network,” he wrote in an email. “Now that everyone is connected they have to show the world how this connectedness becomes more powerful by being open. It took them 5 years to do and will probably take another 5 to evolve into something else while staying true to Mark Zuckerberg’s ideal of connecting ones social graph.”

Looking at Facebook’s mission statement also had Mr. Galpert considering his own company’s purpose—to make creative digital editing software accessible to everyone (like those who don’t have a fancy Adobe Photoshop package) and every type of artist. “We continue to strive toward our mission of making creation accessible to artists of all genres,” Mr. Galpert wrote to The Observer. “As this becomes more of a reality the way people create content will be different and therefore our mission will evolve but still keep its underlying principles.”

Is Mr. Zuckerberg’s principles for his “people,” or Facebook’s advertisers? Or both? You decide.

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