“Facebook” Woos Youth on its 20th Anniversary

Facebook celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, revealing in its first release that more than 40 million young Americans and Canadians aged 18 to 29 visit the site daily.

This growth reflects the company’s efforts in recent years to recapture the attention of young people, who have been flocking to the short-video app TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

The Need to Evolve

At an event in New York aimed at highlighting how young people use the app, Tom Allison, head of Facebook at Meta, said the anniversary had prompted executives to realize that Facebook needs to evolve to remain relevant to the next generation.

He noted that young users initially come to Facebook to use sections such as Marketplace, Groups, and Dating at significant moments in their lives.

He added that most of these sections do not contain ads, but their use leads to increased engagement on a large scale. He explained that once young people enter Facebook, they go and check out what’s happening in the feed or on Reels, referring to Meta’s TikTok-like short-video product.

Less Attractive

Facebook, founded in a Harvard University dormitory in 2004, spread like wildfire across American campuses after its launch, quickly becoming the virtual mass communication platform for an entire generation of internet users. The app gathered 50 million users in its first three years and now has 3.2 billion users worldwide.

However, over time, it has become less attractive to young users. Only about a third of American teenagers say they use Facebook, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center last year, a sharp decline from previous surveys conducted by the group in 2014 and 2015.

In comparison, the percentage of all American adults who say they use Facebook has remained relatively steady since 2016 at about 68%, according to Pew, while the platform’s use by young people has declined over the years.

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