Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

According to Forbes, in 2023, 4.9 billion people are on social media worldwide. The average user is on six or seven different platforms. And they’re always searching for the next big thing. Sites like Twitch and TikTok have been gaining popularity over the past few years, while other platforms  like BeReal, Yubo, and Threads are attracting users looking for unique experiences and ways to expand their online social circles.

There are countless social media platforms to choose from in this digital age. Younger users are the key demographic that uses social apps. They’re flocking to simpler apps that focus on their friends, such as Yubo, a popular social media app that allows users to find new pals, explore groups, and go live to chat or play an assortment of games with numerous participants. Here’s everything you need to know about the new social media sites.

Social Media Sites Like Yubo and Threads Become Part of Young Users’ Cultural Lexicon

Since the inception of social media, many users have been focused on curating a perfect image to present to friends, family, and the whole world. Isn’t that the whole point of Snapchat filters and the Instagram aesthetic? However, younger generations, such as Generation Z, are craving a more authentic experience, which has influenced this new wave of social media.

Yubo is a popular choice for those looking for real-world connections. The social media app launched in 2015 and has 60 million users worldwide as of 2022. It’s focused on young people under the age of 25. What sets Yubo apart from other social media sites is that it does not have any performance metrics, like likes, comments or follower counts. Instead, the company encourages users to meet other people, hang out and create new friends, and play games, without the pressure of creating and posting content to generate the greatest number of likes. They can also livestream from their phone. “In 95% of the rooms, there are only streamers,” Sacha Lazimi, CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch. “Rooms have between five and 10 people on average.” 

People between the ages of 13 and 25 make up an estimated 99% of its users. With young users, Yubo takes moderation very seriously. When people sign up, the company checks their identity and puts them in the appropriate age group. “We analyze all content both semantically and visually,” stated Lazimi. Users can swipe left or right between profiles and videos being streamed to find new friends with similar interests.

BeReal launched in December 2019. The social app strives to show users what their friends are doing in real time. It works by motivating users to take a photo within two minutes of getting a push notification from BeReal’s camera, which snaps a selfie and a front-facing pic at the same time. Since launching the WidgetMojis feature, which displays friends’ photos in a live-update widget on the home screen, in February 2022, the app has had over 13.9 million lifetime installs. Users enjoy that the real-life photos they share are free from filters, heavy editing, or augmented reality effects.

Threads is a micro-blogging social media site created by Meta. It was designed to foster positive, productive conversations and allows users to control who can mention or reply to them within the platform.

It’s offered in approximately 100 countries and 30 languages. Think of it as an alternative to Twitter. It’s currently the fastest-growing app of all time, amassing 100 million users in the first five days since its launch in July 2023.

Threads’ users sign in using their Instagram account. The social media platform features a single news feed and lets users share text updates and join public conversations. Users cannot sort the news feed chronologically but can automatically sync their followed accounts to their Instagram accounts. Anyone under the age of 16 (18 in certain countries) gets defaulted into a private profile when they join the social network.

It will be interesting to watch these social media platforms evolve as they are primed to revolutionize the industry, which began over 25 years ago.

A Brief History of Social Media

The first recognized social networking sites — Bolt and SixDegrees — debuted in 1997. Bolt, co-founded by Dan Pelson and Jane Mount, allowed users to connect via email or instant message, voice mail, voice chat, and message boards. Andrew Weinreich founded SixDegrees. It featured profiles, friends lists, and school affiliations on the platform.

SixDegrees had millions of registered users, but its networks were limited because of a lack of people connected to the internet. It’s hard to believe, but in 1997, the internet infrastructure was not advanced enough for social networks. 

In the fall of 2001, Adrian Scott, a founding investor in Napster, launched Ryze to help people “rise up” through business networking. Considered the precursor to LinkedIn, it helped business professionals connect by allowing them to build profiles, send messages, and add friends. According to the site, it attracted more than 500,000 members from over 200 countries.

In March 2002, Jonathan Abrams and Peter Chin launched Friendster. The site’s premise is that people were only separated by six degrees and showed how users were connected to strangers. Friendster had a relatively straightforward interface. It became the place to be in 2003 because it was believed to be a safe way to meet potential dates and helped chip away at the negative stigma of online dating. Unfortunately, the site experienced technical difficulties, which propelled frustrated users to flock to MySpace, which launched in August 2003.

MySpace, founded by Tom Anderson (everyone’s first friend), Josh Berman, Brad Greenspan, and Chris DeWolfe, became the No. 1 website in 2006. People converged on the site, which offered not only friend networking but also customizable profiles and music promotion that led to the discovery of emerging artists, including Arctic Monkeys, Adele, Sean Kingston, and Lily Allen. At its peak, the site had over 100 million users, but by 2008 it began to decline and was eventually overtaken by Facebook.

Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerburg launched Facebook in February 2004 exclusively for university students. However, by September 2006, it was available to the general public. It became one of the most controversial social media platforms in internet history, plagued by lawsuits and privacy concerns. It’s gone through numerous updates over the past 20-plus years and is still extremely popular. And according to data released by parent company Meta, in 2023, the site has 2.9 billion monthly active users.

Twitter, created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone, was launched in July 2006. Inspired by text messaging, Dorsey set out to create a platform allowing users to share short messages with groups of people. The microblogging platform enables users to send 280-character messages, called tweets, to their followers and can highlight specific topics using hashtags. In 2022, Elon Musk completed a $44 billion deal to purchase Twitter. In 2023, the social network has more than 354 million active monthly users and 260 million who log on daily.

Instagram was founded in October 2010 and attracted 25,000 users in one day. Within two months, it hit 1 million users. That’s especially impressive considering it was originally only available for iPhone and didn’t launch on Android until 2012. In April 2012, Facebook announced its intentions to purchase the photo- and video-sharing app for $1 billion. 

In 2011, Justin Kan spun off his lifecasting channel into Twitch. The platform’s purpose was focused on video game streaming. In 2014, Amazon offered to purchase it for $1 billion. It was a smart business move since by 2021, Twitch’s reached over 2 million concurrent viewers and generated a revenue of an estimated $2.8 billion in 2022.

TikTok launched in 2018 and allows users to watch, create, and share 15- to 60-second videos. By 2023 it has been downloaded more than 2.5 billion times. It’s enjoyed by amateur and professional creators who use the platform’s effects, such as filters, stickers, and background music, to produce short videos. Since the majority of TikTok is Chinese-owned, many have raised concerns about the potential misuse of the private information it gathers from users. However, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the world’s largest social media apps, with over 3.5 billion downloads worldwide. It’s available in over 35 languages and more than 150 markets and is popular with Gen Z; approximately 40% of users are between the ages of 18 to 24.

These are a few of the popular social networks that shaped the landscape for platforms such as Yubo, Threads, and BeReal to thrive today.

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