Social media is a form of internet-based communication in which people can connect around the globe without any restrictions. It provides a way to share our views, opinions, ideas, creativity, and intelligence in the virtual world. It is a very powerful tool in the hands of common people these days.
Advantages of Social Media
- Social media allows people to connect and help create new relationships.
- There is no physical boundary while communicating with people in other countries.
- Most social media apps are free of cost for personal use. Thus, anybody can use them.
- It provides the power of speech and representation to the common public.
- People can share data easily from a remote place.
Disadvantages of Social Media
- Rumours are spread like fire on these platforms.
- Most teens and younger generations spend too much time on social media unnecessarily.
- It is not a reliable source, and privacy is also a consideration.
- It brings us close to people virtually, but our face-to-face physical interactions start having gaps.
- Most information on these sources is questionable.
This article covers the top 10 social media apps in the world to use.
Facebook is a social networking service developed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his fellows at Harvard College. Mark Zuckerberg is also the CEO of Facebook and exercises a monopoly in the decision-making. Facebook is the most used social media app, having about 2 billion monthly users. This platform allows us to share photos, videos, and other media formats.
On Facebook, if two people want to connect, one would send a "friend request", and the other would accept it. Facebook also allows us to create & join pages and groups of particular interest. We can also chat through it. To get a full experience, one needs to download Facebook Messenger. Everyone is on Facebook these days, whether a child, an adult or an older person. It is mostly used by the young generation of school and college students.
Facebook is not so trustworthy when it comes to privacy protections. Many times the general data is exported outside the company. Also, the app tracks users’ activity and interests throughout its use. However, it is done to increase the advertising revenue of the company. This platform is infamous in India as it helps people spread anti-national and anti-community posts and messages.
YouTube is a social media app owned by Google. It was initially introduced by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim on 14 February 2005. Later, Google bought it for $1.65 billion in 2006. It won't be wrong to call it a "hub of creators". Most of the big content creators are on this platform. Daily, thousands of videos are posted via the app.
One needs his google id (or Google Account), and that's enough to use all of YouTube features. We can also create our channel and make content free of cost. It also allows users to go live and do streaming. That's why it attracts most gamers and other content creators to this platform. It is a full-time career for many creators who earn good amounts of money with YouTube. The earnings typically depend on the ad rates in the particular country. But creators are given only 55% of the total revenue, and Google keeps the rest. Creators earn on YouTube more than on other platforms because google optimizes the ads for every video by categorizing it accordingly.
On 14 September 2020, the "YouTube Shorts" feature was started on the platform. It allows users to create short videos like Moj, Taka Tak, Zilli, TikTok, and other social media apps. Many people, even creators, criticized YouTube for the step.
WhatsApp was founded by Jan Koum and Brian Action in 2009. But it was bought by Facebook for $19 billion in February 2014. It is one of the most common chatting applications used worldwide. You only need an internet connection and a mobile phone to chat with anyone, anywhere in the world.
In WhatsApp, one must have the contact number of other people to start a communication. An account is created by using the contact number. This social app allows us to send messages with end-to-end encryption as text, gifs, images, videos, documents or emojis. Users can also update their status in the form of text, images, and videos for 30 seconds. Status disappears after 24 hours automatically. It also allows us to make audio and video calls anywhere in the world with just the little cost of internet charges. We can also now make payments through WhatsApp. Also, it provides a lot of features for group communication.
Instagram is an America-based social media application allowing users to share photos and videos. In 2010, it was developed by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. But it was later acquired by Facebook Inc. in 2012 for $1 billion. Instagram was sold just when it had nearly 11 employees. Initially, it was started for iOS only, but when Facebook acquired it, the android version was also released. This platform has the most influential celebrities, including big football players, wrestlers, singers, models, cricketers, actors, and many more.
One needs to create an account or id of Instagram that can be directly linked to Facebook and WhatsApp since all of these are owned by Meta Platforms. If two people want to connect on Instagram, they must follow each other. We can add image filters, tags, and a location to our Post. It allows us to post multiple images at the same time. The ratio of the Post is fixed to 1:1 of 1080 pixels. We can also chat in the messaging feature and create groups there.
Instagram is a professional social media platform. We can upgrade our normal Instagram account to professional. It also started a service of short videos called reels to attract more users when the TikTok app was banned in India.
WeChat is a Chinese app allowing us to send instant messages, make payments and do all the stuff related to social media. The app was released with the name "Wexin" in 2011 by the Tencent Company. But it later was changed to WeChat in 2012 for the global market. The service is available for iOS and Android. It was the first standalone application in the world to have 1 billion monthly active users, which it reached in 2018.
It is extensively used in China only. This app is a multipurpose application that can be used for text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messages, video calling, video games, image sharing, broadcasting, and local sharing. It also allows users to exchange contacts via Bluetooth. The app has a lot of image filters, allows us to write captions, and even supports automatic translation.
This app allows users to register only with a Chinese telephone number. Moreover, the authorities exercise censorship. Users and their activities are monitored, checked, and shared with Chinese authorities. Any political or communal activity not favouring the State is censored and removed. In June 2020, WeChat was banned in India by the government along with 58 other apps for their privacy issues. This was a reaction to the violent clashes on the border between Indian and Chinese troops.
TikTok, initially called Douyin (in China), is a short video hosting platform owned by ByteDance. It was launched in 2016 in the Chinese market. It was made globally available to iOS and Android on 2 August 2018 after merging with another Chinese social media service named Musical.ly. Since its release, it completed over 2 billion mobile downloads across the globe in October 2020.
TikTok has features to create short videos with different background music in the background. Initially, the app supported a video clip of 15 seconds, but now it has been increased to 10 minutes. One can easily use hundreds of available filters; we can slow down, fast-forward, or even edit videos within the app. The videos uploaded on the platform are of the genres like pranks, comedy, magic, jokes, or dance. Videos are uploaded mostly according to the trend on social media. TikTok is full of lip-syncing shorts on its platform. One can easily remix any short they want.
TikTok uses its AI (artificial intelligence) to assess users' search and watch activity to provide relevant short videos or clips according to their interests on the customized "For You" page. But the user needs to be over 16 years of age to access this page. Users can also earn after reaching certain followers and brand promotions.
It was banned along with 58 other Chinese apps in India after the Indo-China clash in 2020. Since the servers were not in the country, the data was stored in and shared with China. It is also noted that the app takes down anti-Chinese accounts and videos.
Note: At present, TikTok and Douyin are two different services with different users. Douyin was upgraded to TikTok for the international market. One app can't access content in the other.
7. Sina Weibo
Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website and social media app that Sina Corporation launched on 14 August 2009. It is often referred to as "Weibo" by the media due to its popularity. It is one of the most used social media apps in China. It had more than 445 million monthly active users in the year 2018. Since then, the app has been a huge financial success for the respective company and a strong competitor to Twitter.
Many features of Sina Weibo are the same as of Twitter. Initially, only 140 characters were allowed in a post. But it was later increased to 2000 words in 2016. Users can mention or talk using "@username" formatting, add hashtags and follow others. Users can also avail of a verification mark. Now, users can upload up to 9 images in the Post and add the location. It also has the feature of posting stories and a reaction option with emojis.
Sina Weibo is accessible through various platforms, including Android, iOS, Blackberry OS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone.
Sina Weibo has set strict control over the posts uploaded on it. Any post with links using URL shortening services, or having restricted words, is not allowed on Sina Weibo. Any sensitive post against the government is deleted after the verification by the host. About 90% of deletions are made within 24 hours. Also, it does not allow posting any homosexual content.
Snapchat is an American app developed by Snap Inc. It was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown. It was launched on 8 July 2011 on iOS and named "Picaboo". Later, it was renamed Snapchat at the end of the year 2012. It is well known for its mobile-first approach to social media. It had 332 million daily active users across the globe in Q1 of 2022.
Snapchat is mainly used to create multimedia messages, called "snaps". Snaps can be photos or short videos. Video snaps were added in 2012, enabling users to take a video of 10 seconds by long-pressing the photo button. Afterwards, it was increased to 60 seconds with the update. Snapchat provides great flexibility to apply various filters and effects to the snap. These snaps are posted as stories that can be private, semi-private, or public and remain accessible to the receiver for 24 hours only.
One can add friends through usernames and contact numbers, using "snapcodes" or the "Add Nearby" function. Snapchat introduced a new "Snapcash" feature, allowing users to send or receive money through private messaging. The payment system was provided by Square.
Most users of Snap chats are the young generation, creating security issues for parents. The introduction of the Snapcash feature in 2014 increased its popularity among adult content creators. Models use Snapchat's private premium accounts to monetize their porn content. The body shaping filters of Snapchat have the potential risk of causing body dysmorphic disorder.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service. It primarily allows end-to-end encrypted text messaging, video calling, VoIP, and file sharing. The two brothers, Nikolai and Pavel Durov, launched it on 14 August 2013 for iOS users. Afterwards, the Android version was also released on 20 October 2013. This service is structured as a non-profit organization. Telegram is a registered company in the British Virgin Islands and an LLC in Dubai. The servers of Telegram are distributed among five data centres. Currently, the operational data centre is situated in Dubai. It crossed nearly 700 million monthly active users in 2022.
Cloud chats and groups are end-to-end encrypted, meaning Telegram serves messages, and only the sender and receiver have access to read or view the messages. Telegram does not technically store data. Users can send text, voice messages, videos, images, contacts, animated stickers, and even locations. One can share unlimited photos and documents but maximum size of up to 2 GB at a time. It also has a feature that allows users to create and follow channels.
Telegram authenticates logins by SMS-based single-factor authentication. A one-time passcode is sent via SMS to the user's registered contact number, enabling users to securely verify the phone number and log in to their accounts. Users are allowed to set a password for two-step verification.
Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking app owned by the American company Twitter Inc. It was developed by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006. Later, the service was publicly released in July this year. In June 2022, the total number of active users reached approximately 396.5 million.
Users can post and communicate with messages known as "tweets". Users can also retweet (repost) them using their accounts. Users who are not registered on Twitter can only read publicly available messages. All tweets are public by default. But, users can block or remove accounts from the followers' list. Users can follow other accounts and get followed. Users are also allowed to group their posts by topic with the help of hashtags.
In starting, Twitter allowed tweets up to 140 words only. But it was increased to 280 words in the year 2017. Users can add images, videos, and links to their posts. Polls were also introduced on the platform in 2015, which are visible for 7 days after a user has created them. However, users can only add up to four options in the poll.