In 2004, a group of friends at college created an innovative new social media platform with the aim of connecting Harvard students through an online community.

14 years later, Facebook is one the most influential social networks in the world, boasting approximately 2.2 billion monthly users.

So how did a social network created in the confines of a Harvard dorm room go from being a student trend to an unprecedented, worldwide phenomenon?

It all began in 2003, when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg created an online programme called “Facemash”, which allowed users to objectify fellow students by comparing photos of their faces and selecting who they deemed as “hotter”.

While Zuckerberg faced punishment from the Harvard administration and narrowly escaped expulsion from the college altogether for his actions, “Facemash” provided the framework for what was to become Facebook.

Online “face books” already existed at Harvard at the time. These were online directories that featured photos of students alongside some information about them.

There wasn’t a single “face book” for the whole student body of Harvard university, which is why Zuckerberg came up with the idea to create one.

On February 4 2004, the first iteration of Facebook was born, then known as thefacebook.com and made available exclusively to Harvard students.

However, the truth about how Facebook came about isn’t altogether clear, due to the involvement of three Harvard seniors.

Six days after “TheFacebook” was made live by Zuckerberg and co-founders Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, they faced accusations by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra that the idea for the site had been stolen from them.

According to the Winklevoss twins and Narendra, they had approached Zuckerberg asking for his assistance in creating a social network for Harvard students called "HarvardConnection".

This claim was explored in the 2010 Oscar-winning film The Social Network, which depicted Zuckerberg meeting with the Winklevoss brothers and Narendra to discuss their idea before creating his own without their knowledge.

Following a lawsuit filed against Zuckerberg, eventually all three received a settlement in 2008 that included 1.2 million shares in the company each.

Facebook proved extremely popular with Harvard students when it was first launched, so much so that the site was soon also made available to students at Stanford, Yale and Columbia before expanding to numerous other colleges.