Comment Editor Weronika Bialek analyses the likelihood of Meta being overtaken by its competitors

Digital editor and final year French and Russian student.
Images by Dima Solomin

Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world with 2.85 billion monthly active users worldwide. For many, it was the first social media platform that they ever used and it has completely changed how people interact online. Despite this, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has faced hardships recently. With the rate at which new social media apps are being developed, it begs the question, is Meta’s time over?

Last year, Facebook was renamed to Meta, as Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s future plans with the Metaverse. Since then, the company share price has dropped by 60%. This was triggered by the company reporting its first ever drop in daily users in February, although it returned to gaining profiles in the following months. Despite bouncing back in terms of users, Meta is becoming less valuable to investors, as the majority of new users are from poorer countries, and account registrations for under-18s had fallen by a quarter within a year, according to a whistleblowing former Meta executive.

The social media platform feels outdated, and not as social as it once was

Despite the fact that Meta has been a constant in most people’s lives for over a decade, I think that its gradual decline in popularity is inevitable. For most young people I know, Facebook is an app that their parents use to post birthday photos, or that workplaces use to form groups on which they nag their employees about their uniforms. The social media platform feels outdated, and not as social as it once was. Of course, Meta owns a plethora of other apps, such as Instagram, which is much more popular amongst young people. However, even it is slowly being replaced by Tiktok, with 63% of Gen Z youth using TikTok on a daily basis, compared to 57% who use Instagram. 

I think that Zuckerberg’s adamant press for being the first in the VR social media market with the Metaverse, shows that he is aware that his apps are becoming outdated, and he needs to be innovative to stay on top of the competition. These days, it seems that new social media platforms are being released daily, and Zuckerberg has many more competitors now than he did when he first created Facebook, so innovation is key to staying at the top of the market. However, even though his motives are clear, it seems that he is currently doing more damage than good by investing so much into the Metaverse. 

The world is riddled with an overwhelming amount of bugs

According to leaked memos reported by The Verge, Meta has ordered its own employees to spend more time in Horizon Worlds, its VR social network, as even the employees don’t want to spend time in it and are struggling to make it compelling to users. The main problem is that the world is riddled with an overwhelming amount of bugs and has poor graphics quality. Currently, the avatars don’t even have legs, which clearly takes away from the VR experience and fails in comparison to other VR worlds, which do have these features. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Horizon World’s user base has steadily declined and the document reported on by the Wall Street Journal also highlighted the concern that ‘an empty world is a sad world’, as Meta attempts to direct users into more social areas of their VR world.

Clearly, Horizon Worlds is an unfinished product, with many bugs, incomplete avatar designs and a small user base, and it is very far from matching Facebook or Instagram in popularity. It seems to me that in trying to jump ahead into the unknown future of social media, Zuckerberg has doomed his company and Meta’s already established social media apps, as investors back out and young people switch over to newer apps which are keeping up with current trends rather than trying to create demand in areas where there currently isn’t any.  

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