Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company, which was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes.
Facebook can be accessed from a large range of devices with Internet connectivity, such as desktop computers, laptops and tablet computers, and smartphones. Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users as of January 2018. Its popularity has led to prominent media coverage for the company, including significant scrutiny over privacy and the psychological effects it has on users. In recent years, the company has faced intense pressure over the amount of fake news, hate speech and depictions of violence prevalent on its services, all of which it is attempting to counteract.
The company has been under intense media scrutiny in the wake of the Cambridge Analytics data mining scandal, when it emerged that the British political consulting firm had acquired and used personal data from Facebook users in the course of the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign.
As a result of the scandal, Zuckerberg has had to appear in front of the US Senate and European parliament to explain the company’s personal data security policies, and the platform is developing new privacy features. However, despite the adverse publicity, Facebook remains the world’s most popular social networking site.
It does, however, have some competitors.
Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service which allows users to upload photos and videos to the service, which can be edited with various filters, and organised with tags and location information. An account’s posts can be shared publicly or with pre-approved followers. Users can browse other users’ content by tags and locations, and view trending content. Users can “like” photos, and follow other users to add their content to a feed
The platform is possibly the largest competitor that Facebook faces, even though Instagram is now owned by Facebook. Instagram is more popular with teenagers and tweens, because it’s simpler, more private and very visual in nature. So while Facebook is not competing with Instagram for revenue, it is competing with it for users and the time those users spend on social media platforms.
As of October 2015, over 40 billion photos have been uploaded to the service. Although praised for its influence, Instagram has been the subject of criticism, most notably for policy and interface changes, allegations of censorship, and illegal or improper content uploaded by users.
Facebook has expressed concern about the rise of Instagram, since the younger generations will steer the social media trends. Teens appreciate that their viewers are not the many relatives they have connected with on Facebook, and they value the fact that they can express themselves easily on Instagram.
Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app popular around the world created by former Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown.
One of the principal concepts of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. The app has evolved from originally focusing on person-to-person photo sharing to presently featuring “Stories” of 24-hour chronological content, along with “Discover” to let brands show ad-supported short-form entertainment. Snapchat has become notable for representing a new, mobile-first direction for social media, and places significant emphasis on users interacting with virtual stickers and augmented reality objects. As of February 2018, Snapchat has 187 million daily active users.
Snapchat continues to be popular, because it allows users to reach out only to the few people that they’ve selected, and not all their friends at once. To use Snapchat, you send a picture that the recipients are able to view for a short period of time. The picture then vanishes never to be seen again. This allows teenagers and people of all ages a level of privacy without worrying that the images might resurface at a later time.
LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. As of 2015, most of the company’s revenue came from selling access to information about its members to recruiters and sales professionals.
Based in the United States, the site is available in 24 languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Czech, Romanian, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Polish, Korean, Indonesian, Malay, and Tagalog. LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. LinkedIn is not as popular as Facebook, but it is the main platform for professional profiles and recruiting. Having a LinkedIn profile is increasingly becoming a necessity for people seeking employment.
Google Plus, stylised as Google+, is an internet-based social network that is owned and operated by Google. The service, Google’s fourth foray into social networking, experienced strong growth in its initial years, although usage statistics have varied, depending on how the service is defined, and its user rate is paltry compared to Facebook’s count. Both companies compete heavily in the internet advertising space, as they battle for market share.
Twitters is an online news and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but on November 7, 2017, this limit was doubled for all languages except Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. As of 2016, Twitter had more than 319 million monthly active users. The platform competes with Facebook for users and their engagement, but the nature of Twitter makes it less of a direct competitor than some of the other main social networking companies. Twitter relies heavily on advertisement dollars for revenue.
WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware and cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service which Facebook also owns. The application allows the sending of text messages and voice calls, as well as video calls, images and other media, documents, and user location. The application runs from a mobile device though it is also accessible from desktop computers; the service requires consumer users to provide a standard cellular mobile number. Originally users could only communicate with other users individually or in groups of individual users, but, in September 2017 WhatsApp announced a forthcoming business platform which will enable companies to provide customer service to users at scale. Arguments exist over whether WhatsApp is a partner or competitor of Facebook, as it currently operates in a quasi-independent way to its parent company.
Pinterest is a web and mobile application company that operates a software system designed to discover information on the World Wide Web, mainly using images and on a shorter scale, GIFs (Graphics Interchange Formats), and videos. Pinterest had reached 200 million monthly active users as of September 2017. It has been described as a “catalogue of ideas” that inspires users to “go out and do that thing”, rather than as an image-based social network.
By acquiring Instagram Facebook has made Pinterest a competitor, because has effectively said it wants to be the major player in photo sharing. Pinterest is not a true social competitor along the lines of Google+ as it has a significantly smaller remit but, for those Facebook users who predominantly share photos, there is an obvious temptation to try the “next big thing” especially considering the recent publicity that Pinterest has been generating.
Flickr is an image hosting service and video hosting service. It was created by Ludicorp in 2004. It has changed ownership several times and has been owned by SmugMug since April 2018. In addition to being a popular Web site for users to share and embed personal photographs and an online community, the service is widely used by photo researchers and by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. As with Pinterest, Flickr can be considered a rival of Facebook when it comes to online photo and image sharing.
Tencent is the closest real competitor when it comes to active users, with 2.4 billion monthly users, even though it is unknown to most of the world. This is because, Tencent, one of China’s biggest publicly traded companies and its subsidiaries QQ, WeChat and Qzone, caters to domestic Chinese users only. However, there is another side to Tencent’s success story: like other Chinese tech and internet companies it owes part of its success to Chinese protectionism and censorship. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, alongside Google, are just a few of the providers blocked in the People’s Republic.
Quora is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users. Its publisher, Quora Inc., is based in Mountain View, California. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to answers that have been submitted by other users.
It is growing strongly and is considered one of the toughest Facebook competitors in the future, especially in most of the countries that are developing and that have a young and vibrant crowd with a lot of questions which need answers. Quora’s membership is free, and you can ask your questions or provide the answers anonymously, but one can as well choose to register. More importantly, Quora questions and answers can easily be searched via Google, while Facebook is completely private. Thus, more and more people are joining Quora to have intelligent conversations.