With more than 1 billion active users — including 618 million who log in every day — Facebook has become a virtual world unto itself. Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg originally started Facebook as a dorm room exercise to extend the popular printed college directory of incoming freshmen online, but he has since developed it into an international organization employing more than 4,500 programmers, graphic artists, and marketing and business development executives with offices across the United States as well as in Dublin, London, Milan, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, and Toronto. These days, on average, more than 3 billion posts are liked and commented on, and more than 450 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every single day!

For many, Facebook is a social experience, a place to reconnect with an old college chum or poke a new friend. But in April 2007, Zuckerberg did something so revolutionary that its aftershocks are still being felt throughout the business web. He opened his virtual oasis to allow anyone with a little programming knowledge to build applications that take advantage of the platform’s social graph (or network architecture). In that open software act, Facebook redefined the rules for marketers looking to gain access to social networks, and it will never be business as usual again.

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