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How Facebook Has Changed Since NPR First Reported On It 13 Years Ago


When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress tomorrow and Wednesday, it will be a spectacle. Every lawmaker wants to ask him about how the world's largest social network treats its users' personal information. Facebook and Zuckerberg are household names.


Of course, it wasn't always that way. Let's travel back to that time when the word, Facebook, meant a real book with students' photos on pages. It's time for...



KELLY: A search through NPR's story archives takes us back to the morning of August 19, 2004. That is when NPR's Renee Montagne introduced a report about a website just a few months old that lets students at Harvard University learn a bit about each other.


RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: Thanks to the Internet and some crafty underclassmen, now you can get to know your roommate or mates without the inconvenience of actually meeting them.

CHRIS HUGHES: You know, later on in the all-freshman dining hall or at one of those super awkward ice cream socials, it might be much easier to start up a conversation.

MONTAGNE: That is Chris Hughes, a junior at Harvard. He is co-founder of the getting-to-know-you website thefacebook.com.

CORNISH: No mention of the other co-founder of The Facebook in that story. NPR listeners would have to wait two months more for that. On October 11, 2004, we aired a story by reporter Andrea Shea. Gone was the cheery mood from that first report. Harvard students had begun to point fingers at each other.


ANDREA SHEA, BYLINE: It's a classic he-said-she-said scenario. Last winter, when senior Tyler Winklevoss and his partners decided to get serious with their concept for ConnectU, they asked Mark Zuckerberg, a technically savvy sophomore, to write code for the fledgling site. He agreed. This is where it starts to get hazy and ugly.

KELLY: Zuckerberg denied stealing the idea for what would become Facebook from the twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. A legal battle dragged out for years. All of this is dramatized in the film "The Social Network," which was released in 2010.

CORNISH: Since those first mentions of Mark Zuckerberg and The Facebook, NPR has found many occasions to talk about both the man and the company. And with Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, this week will be no exception.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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