When Facebook was first launched, an educational institutions email address was needed to be able to register. In September 2006 it was made accessible to the public allowing, "anyone with a registered email address" to join, drastically expanding its target audience (Phillips). The site design has change much over the years and during this time, many new features were introduced, like being able to give friends gifts, post advertisements and develop custom applications like Scrabble and Graffiti. Facebook messages were also designed, allowing users to communicate "on the Web and on mobile phones regardless of whether they are using e-mail text messages or online chat services" (Wyld). This transformed Facebook into a site that is "tightly integrated into the daily media practices of its users" (Ellison). All of these changes allowed Facebook users to personalize this social network into a site that revolved around them and customized their page and experience for the individual's daily use.
Many benefits have come from the creation of such social-networking sites like this one. Facebook has expanded exponentially over the years, growing into a phenomenon connecting millions of people and giving them the option of staying in touch with friends from different locations, schools and work places. It allows people to use the site of a way to "interact with people they already know offline or to meet new people" (Ellison). Participants can join "virtual groups based on common interest," which allows these new friendships to form (Ellison). It also has the ability for people to stay in touch, who otherwise would not be, serving as a free way to communicate with people overseas. The social aspect of Facebook is what arguably draws many of its users to sign up, but it has many other benefits besides just keeping people connected. Applications have been developed which can add to the entertainment aspect of the site, as well as making people aware of different issues in the world. For example, Facebook currently gives their users the option to donate to particular causes, like the recent earthquake in Japan, which in turn educates more people about world news while at the same time raising money for a good cause. Facebook is also the ultimate address book, providing information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and instant messaging screen names to a multitude of people. Facebook quickly exposes mass amounts of people to important information, which is otherwise not so easily attainable.