1. The College Facebook
Feast your eyes on this North Carolina Junior College directory circa 1928. All the building blocks are in place: names, addresses, majors. If only they’d known PHP, they’d be billionaires right now.
2. The Mug Shot
The first nationwide photo-sharing platform. If you were notorious enough, they’d even throw in status updates.
3. The Social Register
Any time after 1880, this is what you checked to catch up on the comings and goings of your city’s socialites. Of course, it was restricted to the social elite — so it might be more like Facebook circa 2005.
4. The Bathroom Wall
It’s got open commenting, an easily navigated reply space, and a surprising quantity of Aerosmith lyrics. Looks like a news feed to us.
5. The Obituary Page
I’ll go out on a limb and call this hands down the closest the 20th century came to a modern day Facebook. There are pictures, friends and even an early version of the timeline. (They called it “biography” in those days.) The only difference is that everyone involved is recently dead — but you can’t quibble over every little detail.