There has been an outcry in recent days, including from Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, over the direction that Instagram is going. The once-great social network is becoming more like TikTok and deprioritising content from friends and family.
And that doesn't seem likely to change, either, at least according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
During the company's Q2 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg was asked (opens in new tab) about these complaints – which include a petition (opens in new tab) with over 200,000 signatures – and responded by saying that the changes were here to stay.
According to Zuckerberg, "Al finds additional content that people find interesting, that increases engagement and the quality of our feeds" and the usage of AI isn't going to end anytime soon.
"In that sense, I think what we’re doing is going to be pretty unique," he said, presumably referring to TikTok. "I don’t think people are going to want to be constrained to one format."
The backdrop for the news is a disappointing quarter for Meta, which runs Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, recording its first-ever revenue decline, alongside a weaker forecast for Q3.
It's a potent combination for a company that sells ads to people who spend hours everyday on its services – and must continue to do so.
Meta is also contemplating its shift towards the so-called "metaverse", a place to relax, socialise, work, and study in virtual worlds. The company is spending billions of dollars every quarter to realise this far-off vision.
The road ahead
Providing services to people for free comes at a cost – in Meta's case selling lots of ads. It is, in effect, a battle against the clock.
People spending more time elsewhere, such as on TikTok or YouTube, cuts into the time they can spend on Meta's services, thus reducing its revenue.
Perhaps the metaverse takes off – Zuckerberg has been right many times before – but Meta is making a pretty huge, and expensive, bet on a somewhat unclear premise.
Just look at the derision for a recent conversation (opens in new tab)between Zuckerberg and Neil deGrasse Tyson for an example of both how silly people find the concept and how bad it looks at present.
Just two guys geeking out over space 🪐 pic.twitter.com/bI4Ghv9ldnJuly 26, 2022