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Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world, has 2. Other social media platforms including Youtube and Whatsapp also have more than one billion users each. These s are huge — there are 7. This means social media platforms are used by one-in-three people in the world, and more than two-thirds of all internet users. Social media has changed the world. The rapid and vast adoption of these technologies is changing how we find partners , how we access information from the news , and how we organize to demand political change.
Who uses social media? When did the rise of social media start and what are the largest sites today? Here we answer these and other key questions to understand social media use around the world. We begin with an outline of key trends and conclude with a perspective on the rate of adoption of social media relative to other modern communication technologies.
The first social media site to reach a million monthly active users was MySpace — it achieved this milestone around This is arguably the beginning of social media as we know it. In the interactive chart below we plot monthly active users, by platform, since This chart shows that there are 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.
TikTok, for example, launched in September and by mid 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. The data also shows rapid changes in the opposite direction. Once-dominant platforms have disappeared. In , Hi5, MySpace and Friendster were close competitors to Facebook, yet by they had virtually no share of the market. The case of MySpace is remarkable considering that in it temporarily surpassed Google as the most visited website in the US.
Most of the social media platforms that survived the last decade have shifted ificantly in what they offer users. With 2. YouTube, Instagram and WeChat follow, with more than a billion users. Tumblr and TikTok come next, with over half a billion users. The bar chart below shows a ranking of the top social media platforms, year by year. You can drag the slider in this chart to see the ranking for other years. The aggregate s mask a great deal of heterogeneity across platforms — some social media sites are much more popular than others among specific population groups.
In general, young people are more likely to use social media than older people. But some platforms are much more popular among younger people. This is shown in the chart where we plot the breakdown of social media use by age groups in the US. If they do, the age gradient would narrow. In this other chart we show the percentage of men and women who use different platforms in the US. The diagonal line marks parity; so sites above the diagonal line are those more popular among men and sites below are those more popular among women.
Bubble sizes are proportional to the total of users of each platform. 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. From a back-of-the-envelope calculation we know that, if Facebook has 2. Young people tend to use social media more frequently. In fact, in rich countries, where access to the internet is nearly universal , the vast majority of young adults use it. Our chart here shows the proportion of people aged 16 to 24 who use social networks across a selection of countries.
The increase in social media use over the last decade has, of course, 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 apps and websites accessed through mobile phones, tablets, computers and other connected devices such as game consoles. As the chart shows, this growth has been driven almost entirely by additional time spent on smartphones and tablets. There is evidence that in other rich countries people also spend many hours per day online. The next chart shows the of hours young people spend on the internet across a selection of rich countries.
As we can see, the average for the OECD is more than 4 hours per day, and in some countries the average is above 6 hours per day. Even on a global stage the speed of diffusion is striking: Facebook surged from covering around 1. How does this compare to the diffusion of other communication technologies that make part of our everyday life today? The rise of social media is an extraordinary example of how quickly and drastically social behaviours can change: Something that is today part of the everyday life of one-third of the world population, was unthinkable less than a generation ago.
Fast changes like those brought about by social media always spark fears about possible negative effects. Specifically in the context of social media, a key question is whether these new communication technologies are having a negative impact on our mental health — this is an important question and we cover the evidence at Our World in Data here.
Social media started in the early s. Click to open interactive version. Facebook has dominated the social media market for a decade, but five other platforms also have more than half a billion users each. Some social media sites are particularly popular among specific population groups. In rich countries almost all young people use social media. The rise of social media in rich countries has come together with an increase in the amount of time spent online. Some perspective on how fast and profound these rapid changes are.
The following chart provides some perspective. Wordpress Edit . Our World in Data is free and accessible for everyone. Help us do this work by making a donation. Donate now.Early social media
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Blast From The Past: 6 Early Social Media Platforms And How Their Influence Lives On