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Meta says the future of Facebook is young adults (again)

When you think of the 20-year-old social network that is Facebook, its popularity among “young adults” is what comes to mind. Naturally, Meta wants to change that and the company is once again telling the world it intends to reorient its platform in order to appeal to that demographic.

In from Tom Alison, who heads up the Facebook app for Meta, he says that the service is shifting to reflect an “increased focus on young adults” compared with other users. “Facebook is still for everyone, but in order to build for the next generation of social media consumers, we’ve made significant changes with young adults in mind,” he wrote.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because Meta executives have been trying to win over “young adults” for years in an effort to better compete with TikTok. Mark Zuckerberg said almost ago that he wanted to make young adults the company’s “North Star.” And Alison and Zuckerberg have both been talking about the Facebook app’s pivot to a feed rather than one based on users’ connections.

That shift is now well underway. Alison said that the company’s AI advancements have already improved recommendations for Reels and feed, and that “advanced recommendations technology will power more products” over the next year. He added that private sharing among users is also on the rise, with more users sharing video (though no word on the plan to bring messaging back into the main app).

Notably, Alison’s note makes no mention of the “metaverse,” which Zuckerberg also once saw as a central part of the company’s future. Instead, he says that “leaning into new product capabilities enabled by AI” is a significant goal, along with luring younger users. That’s also not surprising, given that Meta and Zuckerberg have recently tried some of the company’s metaverse ambitions as AI advancements.

But it’s also not clear how successful Meta will be in its efforts to win over young adults. Though Alison says Facebook has seen “five quarters of healthy growth in young adult app usage in the US and Canada,” with 40 million young adult daily active users, that’s still a relatively small percentage of the 205 million daily US Facebook users the company reported in February, the last time it would break out user numbers for the app.

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