Facebook Daily Active Users Declined For The First Time: Company Reports

February 3, 2022 Meta, previously known as Facebook Inc., shared its fourth-quarter earnings report on Wednesday. The report reveals that the Daily Average Users (DAU) of Facebook have dropped to 1.929 billion in the last three months of 2021, as compared to 1.930 billion in the previous quarter.

In addition, the tech giant’s shares collapsed by more than 20 percent in after-hours trading in New York. However, shares of other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest have also marginally declined.

The report indicates that while Facebook Monthly Active Users (MAUs) saw an increase of 2 million compared to the third quarter of 2021, the DAUs have declined by 1 million for the first time since it was founded in 2004. Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive and Founder of now-Meta, says that the sharp decrease in users is because the younger audience has shifted towards other rival platforms like TikTok which the company cannot acquire because of its ongoing antitrust scrutiny.

Meta further reports that the company has experienced a hit at its daily active users because of the change in Apple’s privacy settings, which restricts apps like Facebook to track user data and consequently disabling companies to design targeted ads. Dave Wehner, Meta’s Chief Financial Officer says that the changes made by Apple have made it difficult for brands to “target and measure their advertising on Facebook and Instagram that could have an impact in the order of $10 billion for this year.”

Despite the drop, Meta is still at the top of the global social graph. The financial report by Meta discloses that the company’s total revenue in the reported quarter has risen to $33.67 billion, most of which is owed to advertising sales. The report has also predicted revenue in the next quarter to be around $27 billion to $29 billion.

Meta and Asia Pacific

Reports suggest that the highest number of Facebook users are from the Asia Pacific region with around 806 million daily active users – an increase of 1 million from the previous quarter. However, the advertising revenue remained lower than the US and Europe, but higher than the rest of the world.

Asia Pacific poses opportunities for companies like Meta to generate ad revenue by expanding their business in the region that has long been a testing ground for the tech giants for their new and experimental products like the Free Basics, before they are launched in the Global North. Despite this, recent events reveal that tech companies, including Meta, do not prioritise the interests of the market in Global South, and particularly in Asia Pacific, when it comes to content moderation and policy compliance.

The genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is one big example of how Meta, Facebook’s parent company, failed to cooperate with the international community in investigation related to the series of events and the platform’s involvement. The Guardian accused Facebook of facilitating this genocide in Myanmar. Legal action launched in the UK and USA revealed that the tech giant’s algorithms supplemented hate speech and that it was unable to take down aggressive posts in the country. At the time, Facebook that was launched in Myanmar in 2011 faced a £150 billion lawsuit related to its potential involvement, filed by the affected individuals who said that they and their family members were subjected to acts of “serious violence, murder/or other grave human right abuses,” according to a letter submitted to Facebook’s UK office by lawyers.

Likewise, when the Social Media Rules were mandated in Pakistan in 2020, tech giants threatened to sanction operations in Pakistan. The Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguard) Rules 2020 are drafted under Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). The Rules which intend to give powers to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to regulate social media companies, imposed heavy fines on social media platforms if they fail to remove “unlawful” content. Social media companies also have to register with the PTA in order to be able to operate in the country, along with appointing a representative in the country who would be the point of contact for the government in Pakistan.

After the Rules empowered regulatory bodies with more authority, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Twitter, and others, through Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), warned that they would be forced to leave the country on account of increased censorship.

Mishaal is a Project Coordinator at Media Matters for Democracy. She is a Public Policy graduate with past experience as content strategist and research writer. Her main areas of interest are political science, world history, and public policy.

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