Social media platform numbers: how many people are using what today?

Greetings from an extremely busy day.  Today the Future Trends Forum is going to explore options for academic Twitter.  I’m very excited about this conversation. Where are folks going?  How many are staying on Twitter, and how many WILL head to Bluesky, Mastodon, etc?

One detail I’d like to touch on is just how large each platform is, as far as we can tell. For this post I’d like to offer some quick, back of the envelope, I’m-not-a-statistician estimates for conversational purposes. I don’t have time for trends extrapolation today, just a snapshot of where social media stand on this October 2023 day.

If any reader has better numbers, please let me know in comments.

Let’s start with the leading Fediverse platform. How many people now use Mastodon? The page states 1.4 million monthly active users.

We can find more data on this score. According to Eric Khun’s tracker, the number of total (not just “active”) users is over 8 million:

Mastodon user numbers over time - growing.

Those numbers come from this Mastodon API, which offers a “user_count” of 8,073,406 today, along with a “server_count” of 9,138.

What proportion of those users are active?  One site considered numbers earlier this year and estimated 22%.  That would mean 1,776,149 actives today.  Techcrunch cited 2.1 million active users in July.  That’s when Khun had total users in the upper 7 millions, so perhaps 27% is a better figure, yielding 2,179,820 active users now.  That’s higher than the official number, and I’m not sure why.  Does the official site have a logic for excluding some users, or…?

Elsewhere, how is Bluesky doing?  Techcrunch estimates about 1 million users now.  This developer states 1,385,904 “Total Registered Users,” without breaking out active ones. A couple of weeks ago Bezinga reported on a “total membership” of “about 1.125 million,” with “daily active users reach[ing] 237,000 in mid-September.”  That gives me a proportion of roughly 21%, so 291,040 from VQV’s count.

How fares Threads, the Meta creation?  Summer 2023 saw a serious melt. Ars Technica estimated more than 100 million stopped using it by July.  Numbers dipped down to 1.1 million active users by late September, according to Marketwatch.  The Guardian noted only a half million in August. The *total* numbers of accounts is far higher, as lofty as 130 million or 132 million by another count, but that seems to just show anyone who ever made an account.  Meanwhile, The Verge projects more than 20 million active monthly users by the end of this year.

Back to Twitter, how goes the original microblogging platform?  How far has usage dropped during the reign of Musk? Last month DemandSage estimated there were “over 1.3 billion Twitter/X accounts, but only 237.8 million of them are monetizable daily active users,” plus 528.3 million monthly users.  Statista saw over “368 million monthly active users worldwide,” after some decline:

Twitter users 2019-2024 Statista 2023

Let’s add some of the other platforms, shall we?

Instagram now carries 1.3 billion active users, according to Statista. Insta has more than 2.3 billion active users now, according to DemandSage.  They add: “a quarter of the world’s active netizens use the platform every month!” (emphases in original)

Facebook has 2.9 billion active users, as per Statista.  They deem it “the most popular social media worldwide.”  DataPortal concurs. Statista offers this fascinating breakdown by nation:

Number of Facebook users by nation, Statista 2023

Oberlo puts things a bit higher, just over 3 billion.

I’ll stop there, before looking into message platforms (Whatsapp) and video. What do you make of these numbers?  How might this data shape our approach to social media within academia?

Once again, please don’t hesitate to offer corrections and better data.

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4 Responses to Social media platform numbers: how many people are using what today?

  1. As far as I’m concerned, nothing has emerged to replace twitter. The Mastodon sites are narrow and I don’t understand how or if anyone is communicating with anyone else on them. There is no there there.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Those are some serious issues with Mastodon. It took me a while to find a non-terrible site and I’m still not getting much communication there, compared with (say) here or Facebook.

      • Ton Zijlstra says:

        I’ve run my own personal Mastodon instance since 2018, and I’ve plenty of conversation and interaction, just mostly with completely different people than were in my Twitter circle of interaction. Discovery is the biggest issue I think which will remain an issue too (federation makes discovery harder compared to centralisation). But then again that is the same as out on the web / internet itself apart from the silo’d platforms. My feedreader has/d the same discovery issue, and triangulation plus time are needed to get through that individually. Replication of network is not an option as it turned out. Part of that is the slow motion exodus too.

        Now that WordPress, running 40%+ of the open web, supports ActivityPub, making every blog a potential actor on Mastodon, will we see some impact of that?

  2. In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. With a plethora of platforms to choose from, it is fascinating to explore the staggering numbers of people using each one. Facebook, the pioneer of social media, continues to dominate with over 2.8 billion monthly active users as of 2021. Instagram, known for its visually appealing content, boasts a user base of more than 1 billion. Twitter, the go-to platform for real-time news and trends, has approximately 330 million active users. LinkedIn, the professional networking site, has more than 740 million members worldwide. TikTok, the new sensation amongst the younger generation, has soared to over 1 billion users. These numbers not only highlight the immense popularity of social media but also showcase the diverse range of platforms used by people around the world to connect, share, and engage with others.

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