There’s been a lot of drama for Facebook this week. Mark Zuckerberg made headlines via the US Senate hearing on child safety and with Meta announcing its first dividend payout, the company value has surged by over 15%, adding more than £110bn to its valuation.
Facebook is still the most reliable place in digital media for brands to advertise and sell to a huge audience.
While the criticisms and op-eds roll in on whether or not social media CEOs like Zucks are doing enough to safeguard kids from mental health issues, Facebook is still the most reliable place in digital media for brands to advertise and sell to a huge audience.
With 3 billion+ users globally, it’s a juggernaut that can’t be ignored. And Meta makes its bread and butter from this income, so it's unlikely to rock the boat while it’s still ahead of all other social platforms. In fact, in the final quarter of 2023, Meta saw revenue rises of 25%.
Above: Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, recently faced the US Senate over child safety concerns.
Facebook has been a part of billions of lives for 20 years. Back in the day, users might grumble about how they couldn’t remove themselves from tagged images of their drunken night out with colleagues. Or how UX changes “totally ruined Facebook” for them. Or if anyone really wanted to be ‘poked’. I think we all like a good poke.
Today, Facebook takes home the first place trophy in terms of active users with 2.989 billion MAUs in April last year. That’s around a third of the global population. All the brands I work with want to get in front of that audience.
Facebook and Zuckerberg have faced and weathered many government hearings and not only survived, but thrived.
Over the decades, Facebook and Zuckerberg have faced and weathered many government hearings and not only survived, but thrived. The reason he is so resilient is that he’s the poster boy of corporate America. Congress knows that it can haul him up and berate him for an hour or so and he will be polite, play the game and agree to some suggestions in principle.
In contrast, Elon Musk and X is never going to put up with this kind of interaction. If anything, Musk would be more likely to tell congress to ‘fuck off’ and not play the usual corporate bro part.
Above: X owner, Elon Musk, "would be more likely to tell congress to ‘fuck off’" than his Facebook counterpart.
This is also why brands make headlines by pulling their ads off of X. Musk’s irreverent attitude means that the platform is at risk of losing money every time he posts something controversial. This is not the way that Zuckerberg handles his operation. He’s still a political figure, but is rarely seen sending out hot takes that are likely to tip his share values into a black hole.
The future is bright for Facebook. The idea that younger audiences are not going to be using the platform is not a huge problem when Meta owns so many other properties. It is also light years ahead of X in terms of becoming the ‘Everything App’ that Musk outlined as a future strategy.
The idea that younger audiences are not going to be using the platform is not a huge problem when Meta owns so many other properties.
Facebook already offers marketplace, dating, messenger, events, birthday reminders, gaming and other features. On top of this, Meta has made developments in terms of payment facilities for third party products, on-platform advertising and, in some markets, localised subscription models. These advances demonstrate that sustainably commercialising the business is becoming increasingly feasible.
When it comes to congress hearings, Facebook will always face criticism about content and censorship. All media have had to deal with how their content influences people; everything from TV and video games to comic books have been called bad for children. It’s part of how we deal with new technologies.
Chat-GPT is facing the same criticisms now. Of course, in the case of Facebook, this is user-generated content and moderation rather than content generation and the control that comes with it. It’s not the only platform that faces these issues.
Above: Facebook remains stable, profitable and popular.
To make Facebook fool-proof in terms of content is probably a pipe dream, but it has already developed AI applications to accompany its armies of moderators. In comparison, users can see similarly 'threatening' stuff on TikTok, via Google Search, or have it sent to them via malicious actors in Snapchat.
With a community in the billions, governing this amount of content is an almost impossible task, but with more regulation from governments, community reporting, innovation on other platforms and its own future moves, the problem can be tackled over time.
[Facebook] users can see similarly 'threatening' stuff on TikTok, via Google Search, or have it sent to them via malicious actors in Snapchat.
What Facebook has that many other platforms don’t, is stability. In a world where fast-moving information can seem barely comprehensible, let alone manageable, it’s a social space in which stakeholders – from advertisers through to shareholders and end users – have a way to connect on a daily basis, whilst appearing as though they never forget anyone’s birthday.
Not to mention that we get the occasional Poke, perhaps on our birthday?
Happy 20th birthday, Facebook!