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Two Meta-owned services dominate in mid-income nations

Meta-owned WhatsApp and Facebook dominate the social media landscape in middle income nations. In just a few decades, social media has changed how people around the world interact and communicate. And in eight middle-income countries, two particular platforms – WhatsApp and Facebook – dominate the social media, Pew Research Centre says in a report.

“Across eight countries in Latin America, Africa and South Asia, a median of 73% of adults say they use WhatsApp and 62% say they use Facebook, the Pew report says.

 Considerably fewer say they use TikTok (median of 36%), Instagram (29%), Twitter (20%) or Telegram (15%). 

The surveys were conducted in Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa in 2023 and before Twitter was renamed X.

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“WhatsApp, in particular, stands out for its broad reach in middle-income countries. In all eight surveyed countries, at least half of adults use WhatsApp, with shares ranging from a low of 50% in India to a high of 90% in Brazil. In the United States, by comparison, only 29% of adults use WhatsApp.”

“But Facebook is more popular in the US than it is in some of these middle-income nations. Around two-thirds of US adults (68%) use Facebook, compared with smaller shares in Kenya (62%), South Africa (61%), Nigeria (56%), Indonesia (53%) and India (39%).”

The survey shows that use of TikTok and Twitter is generally similar in the US and in the middle-income countries. For example, a third of US adults use TikTok, similar to the median of 36% across the eight middle-income countries. 

In India – where TikTok is officially banned – 13% of adults say they use the platform.

The survey does not cover Telegram use in the US and, conversely, we did not ask about YouTube in the middle-income countries surveyed. 

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Not surprisingly, the survey shows younger people are far more likely than older people to use social media, including specific social media sites. Un India, three-quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds use WhatsApp, compared with 17% of those ages 50 and older. 

“This pattern is consistent across nearly all social media platforms we asked about, although the differences are not always as large”m the Pew says.

“People with more income are more likely to use most of the specific social media sites we asked about in each of the countries surveyed. For example, 63% of Nigerians with incomes above the national median use Facebook, compared with 41% of Nigerians who earn less than the national median.”

“There are similar differences by education too, with higher use of these social media sites among people with more education.”

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