An animated history of social media growth by users
June 13, 2019 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Fascinating animation of the rise and fall in number of users of the most popular social media networks. Starts with Friendster in 2003, with so many others, coming and going, through 2018. (warning - annoying music).

Related Bonus: "Queen of the Internet" Mary Meeker's State of the Web 2019
posted by j810c (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Key takeaway for me: I didn’t realize how ancient LinkedIn actually is.
posted by cirgue at 11:16 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Why would you include YouTube and not include LiveJournal? The "most popular social media network" definition in use here is very odd.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:19 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Quibble: they kept changing the horizontal scale. While I get that that was necessary (to allow the overall growth from nothing to billions), it made it hard to track the absolute fortunes of different platforms. I tracked YouTube, and while it's bar shrunk (as the scale expanded), the overall users continued to rise. Perhaps doing an explicit wipe as the scale changed would help.

The other question I have, and this is more about social media in general, is, what are they counting. You could happily not have a YouTube or even twitter account and just consume content.

And, as others have noted, where are you drawing the line on various platforms? Why YouTube and not LiveJournal? Why wasn't the original Vox (by Six Apart) mentioned?
posted by MrGuilt at 11:28 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Odd they have Buzz and Google+ but they totally skip Google's biggest (and 100% private) social media platform, GMail.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


This was much better than I expected but I couldn't help but wonder whether a conventional time-series graph with a logarithmic scale wouldn't have been more appropriate.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:40 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Odd they have Buzz and Google+ but they totally skip Google's biggest (and 100% private) social media platform, GMail.

I was going to say they forgot Google Wave, but, to be fair, so has everyone else.
posted by MrGuilt at 12:45 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


I'm always amazed at how small Twitter's user base is in comparison to the news it makes.
posted by octothorpe at 1:00 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I'm always amazed at how small Twitter's user base is in comparison to the news it makes.

That's kinda the gist of my "what are they counting" question. You could never have a Twitter account and just bookmark a handful of feeds you are interested in.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:02 PM on June 13


I'm always amazed at how small Twitter's user base is in comparison to the news it makes.

When you have one certain user setting the pace, and most of the "news" media following behind like a dog pack, what more do you need?
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:11 PM on June 13


How did Orkut and Hi5 hang on for so long?
posted by panama joe at 2:59 PM on June 13


I believe Orkut was massive in Brazil, but it may have been friendster and I'm misremembering.
posted by bolda at 3:35 PM on June 13


Yeah, it was Orkut.

"Orkut was one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil in 2008.[2][3][4] In 2008 Google announced that Orkut would be fully managed and operated in Brazil, by Google Brazil, in the city of Belo Horizonte. This was decided due to the large Brazilian user base and growth of legal issues." - Wikipedia

Closed in 2014.

And yeah, Where's LJ? I guess they couldn't find any historical user data or something. Wikipedia just says 39,663,771 users in 2012.
posted by egypturnash at 4:16 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Orkut & Hi5 both also had large numbers of schoolkids using them in this part of the world, not the least because they all knew that parents and schools were keeping an eye on their Facebook/MySpace/Friendster accounts.
posted by Pinback at 4:33 PM on June 13


I'm always amazed at how small Twitter's user base is in comparison to the news it makes.

As a myspacer when it was the biggest, which stayed much larger than twitter long after people were asking "is that still a thing?" about myspace and crowing about twitter.

This grated.

I attributed it to tech press being SF based and myspace's user base being... not that.
posted by flaterik at 8:38 PM on June 13


In addition to the tech elite, Twitter is also a preferred platform of professional journalists. Those two populations will go a long way to raising the profile of a particular platform.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:18 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Twitter is big among basically any profession where some amount of their success depends on self-promotion.
posted by panama joe at 8:09 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


The rapid acceleration of TikTok at the end there is pretty spectacular.
posted by Gotanda at 7:48 PM on June 14


I wonder how much the rise of TikTok is due to the collapse of Vine. Speaking of which, it looks like they either didn't consider Vine or lumped it in with Twitter; according to Wikipedia, Vine had 200M users in December 2015, which would have been enough to make an appearance at the lower end of the graphic.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:44 PM on June 16


Bet it was just lumped in. The killing of Vine certainly made room, but it seems like TikTok's demographic is so young that 2015 is a lifetime ago.
posted by Gotanda at 4:27 AM on June 17


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