The Brief: Facebook is the world's largest social media platform.
Facebook is a social media site and app with over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide. It allows people to document their lives and to communicate with both their IRL friends and Facebook “friends.” Facebook features include photo and video sharing, video and text chat, themed groups, fan pages, an online marketplace, live streaming, and more. Facebook Messenger, used for chatting with friends, is embedded in the site when accessed from a desktop or laptop computer but must be added as an additional app on mobile phones and tablets. Users have their own profiles and can post media to their Timelines. Facebook is different from other social networks in that users typically use their real, full names and post about daily life, rather than any specialized topic.
Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, but they remain separate apps and do not require Facebook accounts for use.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg participating in the #10yearchallenge
Is Facebook Still Cool?
According to studies by the Pew Research Center, 51% of American teens used Facebook in 2018, down from 94% in 2012. This can be attributed to a number of factors. Many teens have reported that because Facebook is popular among adults including their parents and sometimes grandparents, the site is no longer “cool” too younger folks. Another factor is that other more teen-dominated social media platforms are available which young people prefer to use to connect with each other online. YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat were all more popular among teenage users in 2018.
Although Facebook may be losing active teenage users, many teens are still connected to the site in one way or another. Both Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook and some apps, such as Tinder require Facebook profiles to be linked in order to use them.
Safety & Privacy
Numerous Facebook-related security and privacy breaches have made headlines in recent years. These include the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook research app controversy, and other breaches like this one. This has caused some people to delete their Facebook accounts, both to express their disapproval and to avoid falling victim to a future privacy violation. Some of those who have done this posted about their experience on Twitter with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, encouraging others to do the same.
Facebook requires that users be at least 13 years of age in order to join. However, this can easily be worked around by simply lying about one’s date of birth.
While large-scale privacy violations are difficult to counter on a consumer level, Facebook’s privacy settings allow users to control who can see their profile and comment on their posts. The most secure settings require users to manually set their accounts to “private” so that only their Facebook friends can see what they post. General internet safety guidelines should also be implemented to ensure the highest possible level of safety.