The emergence of digital social networks has hardly been over a decade and we are going gaga about them. Even though Orkut has dwindled to extinction, the popularity of Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp should say something about these social media platforms. Facebook, founded in 2004, currently has over 2 billion users worldwide but, it seems to be losing active younger users who formed the core base. Pew Research Centre surveys show that the social media scenario among the teenagers have changed a lot within the last three years. It can be said that three years ago, the teens mainly used Facebook to share their thoughts and chat with their friends. But, nowadays, their habits revolve around more than one social media platform.
Platform User Statistics
The number of Instagram users have increased from 40 million in 2012 to 1 billion worldwide now. According to eMarketer, one can expect the US user base of Instagram to increase by 13 percent in 2018 while Facebook’s may only by 2 percent. WhatsApp currently, can be considered as the most popular messaging app in the world with nearly over 1.5 billion monthly active users.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook had revealed that almost 60 billion messages are exchanged every day. The statistics show that Facebook’s (parent group) two messaging apps (Instagram and WhatsApp) are placed in the first position in nearly 168 countries with a whopping 89 percent share in the market.
Privacy Issues and Regulations
Teens started breaking away from the platform of Facebook even before there was this huge privacy issue where Mark Zuckerberg apologised. Facebook has had to face privacy issues many times, starting at the point when it was barely two years old. In January 2018, Facebook had revealed to the users new privacy settings, where the users can better control their data. The Belgian court had asked Facebook in February to stop collecting private data regarding the Belgian users and delete those collected illegally. The General Data Protection Regulation law monitors the way companies store and protect user information.
The law also states that a breach of information should be disclosed within 72 hours. March 2018 had revealed about massive data theft (Cambridge Analytica scandal) from Facebook. The Facebook CEO and co-founder had gone on an apology tour and accepted that Facebook had not taken enough steps to protect the users’ privacy. Facebook will change its policies and allow restricted access to the data apps. They will only be able to collect a user’s name, email id and photo. Mark Zuckerberg had also said that Facebook will build a new tool which will allow the user to see which apps have access to their data, and will also be able to change settings. The new tool will allow the users to decide to reveal only what they want to the apps.
WhatsApp CEO and co-founder Jan Koum leaving the parent company
The co-founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum had sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014. Acton had left the group beforehand and Koum had officially announced his departure from the parent group on 30th April 2018, following the privacy issue. His post seems to reveal that he was not so comfortable with the way Facebook handled data privacy and encryption issue. The post also shows that WhatsApp is achieving new heights and the team is stronger than ever.
Mark Zuckerberg replied,
“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”
Instagram also continues to move forward with their live video feature and insta posts. Instagram has introduced a new long-form video feature where the users can post a mix of livestreamed content. The users will also be able to post repurposed vertical video from platforms other than Instagram. WhatsApp has launched a business version that ensures security and a platform for sharing information within a business. Another latest introduction for WhatsApp is the one-way broadcast communication stream for the groups. The group admin can change the settings such that they will be the only ones who will send messages, basically using it as a platform to announce something.
There is a catch-up feature for those who get re-added to groups they have tried to leave previously. Prior to this, WhatsApp had introduced the group video calling feature where a user can have conversations with more than one person face-to-face at the same time. During the time of WhatsApp acquisition by Facebook, it did not have end-to-end encryption.
Now, Zuckerberg boasts of having successfully built “the largest fully encrypted communication network in the world.” From the statistics about the number of users, WhatsApp and Instagram stand to overtake Facebook in the near future. Snapchat with nearly 191 million users and Twitter with 336 million users are not too far behind.