Since its humble beginnings, Facebook has come a long way. What started out as just "Thefacebook" in 2004 that was aimed toward college students at Havard University has grown to be the largest social media network in the world.

Over the years, we have seen some major changes to the site, including being able to share and tag photos with friends, the News Feed and the "Like" feature.

While some updates caused an uproar among users (remember the Mini-Feed?), others have become indispensable to the platform, such as the having the notifications on the top navigation bar. We can no longer imagine Facebook without with features like the Timeline (which merges together the Profile and Wall pages) that launched back in 2011 and Pages for brands, which first launched in 2007. Then again, other features fell flat and were later removed, such as the ability to send friends gifts.

Facebook has continued to evolve over the years, aiming to always focus on the user experience. As of late, the company has introduced lots of new features that are changing the way we interact on posts, read the news, celebrate friends and more. Here's your guide to all the recent changes, and how to use these latest features.

Facebook Live For Android

Facebook Live is the network's livestream broadcast feature that is similar to the service that video apps like Periscope and Meerkat provides. First introduced to public figures on iOS in August 2015 and followed by users with verified Pages four months later, the feature launched for all iOS users in January of this year. Facebook just announced on Friday that Android users will now be able to to join in on the fun.

Live works by allowing users to broadcast live videos, with with the ability to see who is currently watching and respond to comments as they appear in real-time. What's cool about Facebook Live is that the video then gets saved as a traditional video on the user's Timeline so that other friends, family or fans can watch if they missed it.

To use this feature, users tap on Update Status and select the Live Video icon located on the bottom right for iOS. Android users also go to Update Status, but instead tap on Live Video in the drop-down menu.


What would Facebook be without the "Like" button? Not only does this feature make users feel the love from family and friends when they post a new photo or share a major milestone, but it also helps brands get some insight as to the types of posts that gain more traction as they try to build up their social media presence.

Facebook just launched Reactions on Wednesday, the expansion on its like button that now allows users to more appropriately share how they feel about a particular post. While the Like button is still available, uses can now use animated emojis that include: Love, Haha, Sad and Angry.

This means users are no longer forced to like a post about a friend who shares a loss, and can now react with the "Sad" emoji. Just watched a hilarious video? Use the "Haha" emoji. To do so, just hover over the like button on the desktop version, or press down on the like button on the Facebook app.

Facebook Canvas Ads

Not all the recent changes have just been for everyday users. Facebook also introduced a new option for advertisers that is letting them take over the entire smartphone screen. It is called Canvas, and with it, advertisers have the option of using images or video in their full-screen ads.

However, users will have to actually click on the ad for it to go full-screen. If and when they do, the ad will then show up in that user's Timeline. Users will also be able to swipe through a carousel of images, zoom in and out and tilt for panoramic views, depending on the media used in the ad.

Canvas ads aims to better engage users, spread outreach and enable brands or businesses to better use their stories to showcase their products.

Instant Articles

Facebook launched Instant Articles for iOS users in October 2015, followed by the launch for Android two months later, after previously announcing that it would bring news articles directly to users' News Feeds in May 2015. Facebook now revealed this month that is looking to expand the access to this feature to more publishers to join the existing ones taking advantage of it. These include BBC News, Buzzfeed, National Geographic and the New York Times. Starting on April 12, Facebook will open its Instant Articles program to both large and smaller publishers, including freelance writers who are looking to increase the amount of potential views their stories receive.

Instant Articles provides a faster and more interactive way for users to read articles that appear in the News Feed. Facebook said that Instant Articles load 10 times faster than standard Web articles on its mobile app and include features like auto-play videos, tilt to pan photos and interactive maps.

Other recent updates include the following:

Birthday Cam: Only available for iOS users, Facebook's new Birthday Cam allows users to put a more personal touch on their well wishes on a friend's birthday by sending videos. When it's a friend's birthday, their profile will feature a celebratory banner that the user can tap on to record a video message of up to 15 seconds that will be posted on the birthday guy or gal's Timeline.
Relevant Stories: Facebook announced earlier this month it is making an update to News Feed that will look at the probability that users would want to see a specific story at the top of their feed and the probability that they would like, comment or share that story. They will rank stories higher in the feed on which they think people would take action and what they think people would want see on top.
Messenger Updates: The Facebook Messenger app has seen quite a lot of updates in just one year. This includes video calling, emojis, Businesses on Messenger, the ability to send and receive money and Photo Magic and recently began testing its digital virtual assistant "M." Most notably, the company partnered with Uber for its new Transportation feature that allow users to request a ride, see the driver's status, notify friends that they are on the way and pay for the ride.
Facebook Sports Stadium: The company launched this feature in January, which allows users to experience sports in real-time with friends and other fans around the world. Facebook Sports Stadium brings all the posts from friends, including comments on plays, posts from experts, teams and journalists with access to their Pages, live scores, stats and play-by-plays and game info in one centralized location. Users can get to this feature by searching for a specific game; it was initially rolled out for American football games, but will soon support more sports.
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