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  May 14, 2020



  1. Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world, has 2.4 billion users. Other social media platforms including Youtube and WhatsApp also have more than one billion users each.
  2. There are 7.7 billion people in the world, with at least 3.5 billion of us online. Social media platforms are used by one-in-three people in the world, and more than two-thirds of all internet users.

When did the rise of social media start?

  1. The first social media site to reach a million monthly active users was MySpace – it achieved this milestone around 2004. 
  2. Some large social media sites that have been around for ten or more years, such as Facebook, YouTube and Reddit; but other large sites are much newer.
  3. The rate of adding newer member has been phenomenal. TikTok, for example, launched in September 2016 and by mid-2018 it had already reached half a billion users. To put this in perspective: TikTok gained on average about 20 million new users per month over this period.
  4. The growth of Social media has been bidirectional. Once-dominant platforms have disappeared. In 2008, Hi5, MySpace and Friendster were close competitors to Facebook, yet by 2012 they had virtually no share of the market.
  5. Up-gradation and Modification have remained key to survive in this competitive world. Most of the social media platforms that survived the last decade have shifted significantly in what they offer users. Twitter, for example, didn’t allow users to upload videos or images in the beginning. Since 2011 this is possible and today more than 50% of the content viewed on Twitter includes images and videos.

Who uses social media? 

  1. In general, young people are more likely to use social media than older people. But some platforms are much more  popular among younger people.
  2. For some platforms, the gender differences are very large. The share of women who use Pinterest is more than twice as high as the share of men using this platform. For Reddit it is the other way around, the share of men is almost twice as high.
  3. The increase in social media use over the last decade has, come together with a large increase in the amount of time that people spend online. In the US, adults spend more than 6 hours per day on digital media.
  4. According to a survey from the Pew Research Centre, adults aged 18 to 29 in the US are more likely to get news indirectly via social media than directly from print newspapers or news sites.