Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is gaining ground and it’s no less than a surprise to know who is leading the growth this time!
While the whole world is collectively trying to slowly adjust with the new ‘self-imposed house arrest’ or social distancing norms due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social media platforms have come to people’s rescue in this hour of need to bridge the gap of physical connectivity.
During this time when most of the world is locked indoors, people have doubled up on their usage of social media platforms to stay connected and if there’s one platform that’s clearly reaping the benefit of this situation it is undoubtedly Facebook!
Two years ago, Facebook’s user-base started growing increasingly concerned about their individual privacy protection as they witnessed the infamous Cambridge Analytica data scandal coming under the light which then led the social media giant to pay a whopping $5 billion in fines to the U.S. government. From there on, the situation quickly developed to the platform’s users wanting to abandon it in masses.
It was only made even worse when Brian Acton who is the co-founder of WhatsApp, in a tweet, urged his 44,000 followers to delete the app with ‘#DeleteFacebook’ which is a hashtag that gained huge momentum and blew up very quickly. It is still used on Twitter to encourage users of the social media platform to get rid of it.
Scott Erickson who is a 47-year-old technical account manager and a Facebook user like many of us, at that particular time decided to join the movement of #DeleteFacebook. He bid goodbye to the platform as he felt it only contributed to misinformation and lies related to political agendas.
However, as it turns out, his break from the social media platform recently came to an end when he started developing a fever and cough, symptoms associated with COVID-19. He then quickly self-isolated himself as a precautionary measure and then created a new account on Facebook to get connected with his extended family.
“It really showed me that for a lot of people, Facebook is the only way they know how to stay in touch with people,” said Erickson, who lives in Texas. “So now I’m using it very resentfully.”
Other instances include a 42-year-old telecommunications supervisor based out of New York named Tiffany Briggs who had to return to Facebook as well. She was notified about a local COVID-19 group on the platform who were volunteering to assist during these trying times and she had to rejoin the platform because she wanted to help out the community with them.
She revealed that she originally joined Facebook way back in 2007 but deleted her account two years ago to improve her mental health.
The Covid-19 outbreak has not only led Erickson and Tiffany to boomerang back to the platform but many others like them who previously quit Facebook. This includes some of the platform’s harshest critics as well.
It is also important to note here that Facebook isn’t the only social network people are flocking back to after the spread of this outbreak but it includes platforms such as Instagram too which is owned by Facebook.
Two years ago, Annemarie Navar-Gill, an assistant professor of communication and theatre arts at Old Dominion University in Virginia abandoned the very popular image sharing platform Instagram as apart from being owned by Facebook which was a major concern for her, she felt it was not of any professional use to her. She also expressed that she didn’t have any interest in following celebrities.
However, after the pandemic broke out she returned to the platform which led to changing her opinions as she witnessed how people were coming together as a community worldwide to uplift each other in these trying times.
Surge In Facebook Usage During Covid-19
As of December 2019, nearly 2.5 billion people around the world are using Facebook on a monthly basis, representing a 7.7% YoY growth. However, while it’s not really clear how many people have rejoined Facebook after previously quitting it because of this sudden global health crisis, usage data showed that Facebook and its other services such as Facebook Messenger and the WhatsApp platform have definitely seen a huge surge in traffic since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
In the case of Facebook Messenger, a week-over-week spike of roughly 70% has been observed for the number of people partaking in group video calls. As for Whatsapp, in places hit hard by the virus, such as Italy, WhatsApp voice and video calls have more than doubled in numbers year-over-year.
Will Facebook Be Able To Retain Its User Base From Here Onwards?
While it’s true that people are only flocking back to the platform because of the outbreak and the need of staying connected with each other constantly, it is quite hard to predict if they will stay back.
It is quite a unique situation as it’s definitely not the case that people are choosing to come back to Facebook over other alternatives. It is more like people not really having a choice but to be ‘forced to choose’ Facebook for their communication requirements as it is currently dominating the entire social media space with other popular platforms also being owned by the same company.
The answer to this question will be very easily settled when we will assess the usage statistics of the platform and all its other services post the end of the outbreak, therefore, stay tuned!