The majority of the world’s 3.57 billion Internet users have accounts with one or more of the leading social media platforms. Facebook alone had 2.16 billion monthly active users at the end of 2017, and is the undisputed social media leader in terms of global reach and profitability.
Social media is used via the Web or mobile apps for messaging and content publishing, but the boundaries of what constitutes social media are getting blurry.
WhatsApp is used for private messaging, but also as a business platform and for discovering and consuming news. And WeChat, the biggest platform in China, can be used for virtually everything people do online, including shopping, banking and browsing the Web.
When just a few companies have control over the private communications and personal data, photos and videos of billions of people, they wield enormous power over markets, our experience of the open Web (or lack thereof), global public discourse, free speech and our personal lives. How we hold them accountable, and whether we have the information to do so, is crucial to the health of the Internet.
Active users of most popular social media networks worldwide
Data source: Monthly active users of the most famous social networks, Statista, January 2018 *Platforms have not published updated user figures in the past 12 months, figures may be out of date and less reliable. **These platforms do not publish MAU data, user figures from third-party reports
Three companies tower above all others in counts of combined monthly active users of the social media platforms they own. Facebook owns: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. Google owns: YouTube, and Tencent owns: QQ, WeChat and QZone. Facebook is rocketing above the others, adding 1.196 billion users across its different platforms in just one year.
Social media networks of Facebook, Tencent and Google have the most active monthly users
Data source: Monthly active users of the most famous social networks, Statista, January 2018