Whether one likes it or not, social media plays a big and growing role in modern human’s everyday life. Millions upon millions of people share, like, chat, view, post, and befriend through the various social media platforms every day. But not all social media platforms are equally popular and used. The following ranking shows you the currently most popular social media platforms in the world, based on active users. Note: Messenger apps (such as WhatsApp) are not counted here.
~ 2.5 billion users
Owned by: Facebook, Inc.
With around 2.5 billion users worldwide, Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform in the world. Facebook was launched in 2004 by then Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg, alongside his roommates at Harvard, first intended to create a photo-sharing platform exclusively for Harvard students. Later they also extended the membership possibility to students of the other Ivy League schools. In 2006, Facebook then became free for all and quickly became popular in practically every corner of the world. Today, around 1/3 of the world’s entire human population has a Facebook account.
~ 2.0 billion users
Owned by: Alphabet, Inc.
YouTube is primarily and originally a video-sharing platform. However, the platform has evolved into a social media platform and community over the years. YouTube was launched in 2005 by three former PayPal employees. The site quickly became a success and only one year later, in 2006, it was bought by Google for around $1.7 billion. YouTube today is still owned by Google (more precisely by Alphabet, the parent company behind Google) and still the by far biggest video-sharing website on the internet.
~ 1.2 billion users
Owned by: Tencent
If you don’t live in China, chances are you have never heard, let alone used WeChat. But the Chinese platform indeed is the world’s third-largest social media platform. Founded and owned by Chinese technology corporation giant Tencent, WeChat has currently around 1.2 billion users. Approximately 90% of those living in China. There, WeChat is more than just a social media platform. It has become a super app and “app for everything”. Chinese users use WeChat to share pictures and videos, to communicate, to play games, and even to pay electronically. WeChat is far less popular outside, mainly due to the strict censorship on the platform and also its privacy issues (the Chinese government uses the platform for its mass surveillance operation). Still, the fact that practically all of China’s adult population uses WeChat is enough to make the platform the third largest social media platform in the world.
~ 1.1 billion users
Owned by: Facebook, Inc.
Instagram was developed and launched in 2010 by Stanford University students Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. The app was originally a photo-sharing platform that quickly became massively popular. In its first year of existence, Instagram already had 10 million users on its platform. In 2012 Facebook then bought Instagram for exactly $1 billion. The popularity of the platform has increased even more rapidly ever since. Today, Instagram has around 1.1 billion active users all over the globe. It isn’t merely a photo-sharing or video-sharing platform these days, as a whole lifestyle has developed around the social media platform.
Owned by: ByteDance
Launched only in 2016, TikTok has grown as fast as no other social media platform before. TikTok was developed by Beijing-based Chinese company ByteDance. It is a video-sharing platform where users can easily create and share short videos of them lip-syncing, putting out messages, or other content of comedic or otherwise entertaining nature. It was launched in 2016, originally only for Chinese users. Only after merging with similar platforms Musical.ly, the platform became open to users from all over the world.
~ 530 million users
Owned by: Tencent
Before there was WeChat, Tencent had first developed QZone in 2005. The platform started as a blogging site for Chinese users, but then quickly evolved into a popular social media platform. Ever since the launch of WeChat, QZone has somewhat lost its popularity among Chinese users. But it is still quite popular as an integrated feature for QQ users, the most popular Chinese instant messaging app which, of course, Tencent also owns.
~ 490 million users
Owned by: Automattic, Inc.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging social media platform. Every user registering on Tumblr receives a small blog space on the platform on which the user can create and share all sorts of content: Comments, pictures, or videos. Users also follow each other and can comment on each other’s posted content, as is normal for a social media site. Tumblr was launched in 2007. In 2019, Tumblr was sold to Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
~ 430 million users
Owned by: Advance Publications, Inc.
Reddit is a social media platform and in many ways a unique one at that. Reddit allows its users to share pictures, videos, and news on the platform. Unlike other social media platforms, the pictures are usually not from the users themselves, but from all over the internet. It is therefore news aggregation site as well as a web content rating and discussion platform. The platform is also known for its regular Q&A sessions with celebrities of different kinds. Reddit was launched in 2005. Since 2011, it has been owned by Advance Publications, a New York City-based media company.
9. Sina Weibo
~ 420 million users
Owned by: Sina Corporation
Sina Weibo is sometimes dubbed the “Chinese Twitter”. Like Twitter, Sina Weibo is a micro-blogging platform and similar in platform style, but it is actually bigger than Twitter despite being practically only active on the Chinese market. Sina Weibo was launched in 2009 by American-born Taiwanese-American actor, rapper, and entrepreneur Pan Weibo. It has since been sold to the Chinese Sina Corporation.
~ 340 million users
Owned by: Twitter, Inc.
Twitter was launched in 2006 and is often credited as being the internet’s first micro-blogging site. The social media platform allows users to share short messages as well as images and videos. Twitter is also known as the preferred social media platform used by politicians, world leaders, and celebrities.