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Meta’s Instagram users reach 2bn, closing in on Facebook

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Meta Platforms’s Instagram now has 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, closing in on the 2.96 billion who use Facebook, in a sign of the social media giant’s shifting makeup.

The company disclosed the number during an otherwise-gloomy earnings report Wednesday, when a shaky ad market clouded Meta’s forecast and sent its shares tumbling. It also said that more than 2 billion people now use its messaging app, WhatsApp, every day. Meta’s total monthly users for its family of apps number 3.71 billion worldwide.

In June 2018, the company said Instagram surpassed 1 billion monthly active users. Since then, the app underwent one of the biggest transformations since it was acquired by Facebook — now called Meta — a decade ago. Instagram shifted away from exclusively showing posts from people users followed. Instead, it provided more algorithmically selected content based on what it thinks they’re interested in. The service also added TikTok-style short-form videos, called Reels, which have been prioritized over other video formats on the platform.

Meta made those changes in an attempt to keep Instagram relevant in an increasingly crowded social media industry. Over the past few years, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok surged onto the stage with its popular topics-focused feed of videos. On TikTok, videos are algorithmically pushed out to people who are interested in a certain subject — rather than just people who follow a post’s creator.

It’s important for Meta that its social media platforms continue to keep users coming back and spending time on Facebook and Instagram. The company makes the majority of its revenue from advertisements placed on those platforms. Lately, marketers have been spending less on digital ads amid uncertain economic conditions, leaving Meta and its rivals fighting for fewer dollars.

Instagram, acquired in 2012, built an advertising business that is a major revenue driver for Meta. The business model for WhatsApp, purchased in 2014, is more nascent.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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