Facemash, the Facebook’s predecessor, opened on October 28, 2003. Initially, the website was invented by a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, and three of his classmates – Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz. Zuckerberg wrote the software for the Facemash website when he was in his second year of college. The website was set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two student pictures side-by-side and let them choose who was “hot” and who was “not”.
That night, Zuckerberg wrote the following blog entries:
I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 pm and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland dormitory facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.—9:49 pm
Yea, it’s on. I’m not exactly sure how the farm animals are going to fit into this whole thing (you can’t really ever be sure with farm animals…), but I like the idea of comparing two people together.—11:10 pm
Let the hacking begin.—12:57 am
According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash “used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the ‘hotter’ person”. To accomplish this, Mark Zuckerberg hacked into Harvard’s security network and copied the student ID images used by dormitories and used them to populate his Facemash website.
Harvard at that time did not have a student directory with photos and basic information, and with the initial site generated 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online. That the initial site mirrored people’s physical community—with their real identities—represented the key aspects of what later became Facebook.
On October 25, 2010, entrepreneur and banker Rahul Jain auctioned off FaceMash.com to an unknown buyer for $30,201.