Threads is the latest Meta app to launch.
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Facebook is the oldest platform under the Meta umbrella.
The company has also acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.
This year Meta launched Threads, a competitor of X (formerly known as Twitter).
In October 2021, Facebook became Meta, with the goal of the rebranding being to better reflect the company’s focus on the Metaverse. However, the platform called Facebook did not get a name change. Facebook.com and the Facebook app are still called Facebook.
Meta currently has three main platforms under its umbrella, including Facebook itself. Each of Meta’s applications is targeted at different user needs. Here’s how they break down.
Facebook is by far the oldest platform under the Meta umbrella and, indeed, was what Meta was originally named after. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg nearly two decades ago in 2004. It’s grown to be among the largest social networks to exist, with over two billion active monthly users.
While most social media users from the early 2010s and prior started on this platform, over the past few years Facebook’s user demographics have been publicly perceived as having shifted, largely skewing to older people.
Originally a part of the Facebook app itself on all platforms, Messenger is now a standalone app. The private messaging app for mobile devices exists as a secret option for those using desktop computers and laptops in places where the Facebook domain may be blocked.
Through Facebook Messenger, you can privately message with other users and even take part in group messages. Some Facebook users opt to use Messenger as a way to communicate with their relatives who are still active on the platform.
Instagram is a photo- and video-based social network that was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010. It quickly grew to over a million users just two months after the launch of its iOS app. Two years later, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.
At the time of acquisition, Instagram had fewer than 17 employees but quickly grew to 1,500.
For the first years of its existence, the platform catered mostly towards picture-based content, allowing for shorter text descriptions without the features found on Facebook, such as internal links. However, the platform has pivoted throughout its history.
In 2016, Instagram adopted Instagram Stories for short-form media content that expires after 24 hours. The move was seen as following on the success of disappearing content on Snapchat.
When TikTok rose to prominence, Instagram pivoted once again. This time, the platform launched Reels in response. Reels allow for short-form video content reminiscent of TikTok. Ironically, a major use for Reels is the resharing of content originally posted to TikTok.
While TikTok saw a boom in short-form video content throughout the pandemic, that success has not entirely rubbed off on Instagram’s Reels. According to a 2022 internal report, Reels engagement has lagged far behind that of TikTok.
In terms of demographics, Instagram is still a favorite with younger audiences. According to a Piper Sandler survey in 2021, approximately 80% of teenage respondents reported using Instagram compared to 27% using Facebook.
Threads is the newest social network to reach mainstream popularity, benefitting from its tight integration with Instagram.
You need an Instagram account to sign up, which has allowed users to essentially migrate their followers from Instagram.
Threads grew at a remarkable speed, surpassing 100 million users in the days following its initial launch, according to estimates from data-tracking platform Quiver Quantitative. The growth rate surpassed that of viral app ChatGPT.
Whereas Facebook is targeted toward longer form content and is shifting to older demographics, Threads is designed to compete with the juggernaut of short-form text-based content that is X (formerly called Twitter).
As Paris Marx wrote for Insider last month, Threads is lacking some of the key features normally expected of a social network in 2023, such as private messaging.
In many parts of the world, WhatsApp is part of people’s daily routines. The Meta-owned app is easily one of the most popular messaging services out there, though it’s less frequently used in the United States than it is in other countries.
Meta, then known as Facebook, acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 in a deal two years in the making.
WhatsApp was one of the first mobile apps to offer free, internet-based messaging, Insider previously reported.