In context: Facebook has long had a reputation among teens as being the social network for “old people,” which in this case usually refers to anyone aged 30 or over. But Mark Zuckerberg wants to change this perception by refocusing on “serving young adults,” even if that comes at the expense of older users.
Facebook, plagued by more controversy than usual recently, has found itself knee-deep in another problem following reports that it misled investors over declining teen and young adult user numbers. Both groups are spending less time on the social network, the number of signups is falling, and people are joining at older age: around 24 or 25. The company is being accused of misrepresentation after spending years showing huge growth but leaving out details of key demographics.
In a call to investors on Monday, Zuckerberg said Facebook was “retooling” to “make serving young adults their north star.”
“So much of our services have gotten dialed to be the best for the most people who use them, rather than specifically for young adults,” Zuckerberg said, adding that the changes will take years rather than months and result in growth among older users slowing.
Facebook and Instagram will put even more emphasis on video, which it sees as the best method of attracting younger users away from TikTok. Both sites will make Reels “a more central part of the experience.”
Zuckerberg also said that “our goal is to help the metaverse reach a billion people.” The CEO has talked about transitioning into a “metaverse” company since July, and it was recently reported that Facebook is preparing to change its name to reflect this change of focus. It is also adding 10,000 “high-skilled” jobs across the European Union over the next five years to build hardware such as VR and AR experiences.
Whether a renewed focus on attracting younger users will help Facebook is debatable. The service has been under fire since leaked internal studies showed the social network knows how damaging Instagram is for teenage girls’ mental wellbeing. This was followed by allegations of deals with Trump, an FTC lawsuit, a cease-and-desist letter it sent to the developer of the Unfollow Everything extension, and a whistleblower testifying to US senators that Facebook prioritizes making money over doing what is good for the public.