Social Media

Facebook Usage Is Changing – So Which Online Social Activities Are Growing?

Chris Hoffman 14-08-2013

Facebook isn’t cool anymore. It’s the website where your older relatives hang out. It’s the place where people post political screeds, religious diatribes, and personal drama you don’t want to read. It’s seen as a service that doesn’t care about privacy, one that constantly wants more and more of your data to sell and profit from You Are The Product, Not The Client: The Personal Data Economy Explained As Andrew Lewis once said "If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold". Think about the implications of that quote for a moment – how many free services... Read More . So what are the kids using these days?


Interestingly enough, teens are moving away from social networks like Facebook that are linked to their real identity and toward other networks where they use pseudonyms that aren’t their real names and avatars that aren’t their real faces. Many users appear to be moving away from the trend of oversharing information Some Things Should Remain Private: What Not To Share On Facebook Ah, Facebook. The grandfather of all social networks, where we all share all sorts of weird things without a second thought. Despite its horrible reputation when it comes to privacy, Facebook still manages to lull... Read More linked to their real name and moving back to an older pseudonym model, as used by previously popular social platforms like AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger, which didn’t demand real names or make so much content public.

Tumblr – Microblogging

Tumblr isn’t the only microblogging website, but it’s the most popular one. On Tumblr, you can choose any name you want — probably not one linked to your real name — and set up any number of “microblogs.” Unlike standard blogs, microblogs allow you to easily share short bits of content. You could share a photo in one post, a video in another post, and a short message in the next one. The interface isn’t as complicated as a normal blog’s interface, so it’s quick to get up and running.

You can then search public blogs for topics of interest or funny and entertaining content Need A Good Laugh? Follow These 10 Tumblr Blogs Are you big fans of Tumblr? Here at MakeUseOf, we certainly are. The blogging platform brings together the idea of blogging together with social networking and has become home to some of the most creative,... Read More and follow them, getting updates from all the microblogs you follow in one place. You could seek out other people interested in topics you’re interested in. Or, you could only follow private blogs and share your posts exclusively with a small circle of friends. Either way, you likely aren’t using your real name and are not talking only about things happening in your real life. Many Tumblr users also reshare (reblog) content and entire Tumblr blogs may just be made up of “reshares” of content posted elsewhere.

There’s some evidence that Tumblr usage is dropping after it was purchased by Yahoo, but it’s clear that Tumblr’s style of short blog posts is popular. We wouldn’t be surprised to see another big microblogging service replace Tumblr if Yahoo handled Tumblr as badly as they handled Flickr.

top tumblr blogs


Instagram – Photo Sharing

Facebook may have purchased Instagram, but Instagram is still somewhat separate from Facebook. It’s also a huge service that’s still eating into much of what Facebook does.

Instagram isn’t just about silly photo filters (and if you thought it is, you need these tips for Instagram newbies New To Instagram? Top Tips For Newbies When you’re getting started on Instagram, there are a few tips and tricks to bear in mind to make sure that you hit the ground running. The popular app is part photo-sharing site and part... Read More ). It’s a social network where you get to view photos (and now videos) shared by your friends and share your own photos. There are no political rants, links to web pages people are sharing, or messages asking you to join Farmville and milk virtual cows. It’s just a social network for photos shared by your friends depicting what they’re doing right now and allowing you to share your own photos. It’s like Facebook’s photo-sharing feature without all the other stuff, and with primarily younger users using smartphones, not your older relatives. Of course, you can also follow big names on Instagram and share your own photos publicly, too.

instagram tips

Snapchat – Self-destructing Video Chats

Snapchat is another trendy app. With Snapchat, you exchange photos and short video messages from your smartphone with other people you know. You can also add text messages. The idea is that the messages are “self-destructing,” Send Self-Destructing Risqué Photos & Videos With Snapchat [iOS & Android] So you want to text someone a private flirty or goofy photo or video of yourself, but you know that images and videos can be shared and circulated on the Internet very quickly. Well it... Read More so you can only view them once. Of course, it would be possible to view the messages again, if only by pointing a camera at the smartphone and capturing a video of them playing. You have to make an extra effort to capture these messages — they’re self-destructing by default.


Yes, some people likely use Snapchat for sexting Sexting & The College Student [INFOGRAPHIC] MakeUseOf has previously published several infographics on texting, such as when texting celebrated its 19th birthday, when we showed teens and their texting habits, and how SMS messaging is changing the world. But one texting-related... Read More , just as people do the same thing with standard text messages. However, Snapchat is a way to have a real-time conversation with someone, sending pictures and videos back and forth. Like a face-to-face conversation, there’s no record kept of the conversation unless you go out of your way to record it.

snapchat for android

WhatsApp and Others – Messaging

Apps like WhatsApp, Kik, and Viber are becoming popular around the world. They essentially function as text-message applications Better Than Text Messages & Free - WhatsApp For Android Reviewed A moment of introspection, please: What do you do more often - call people using your phone, or text them? I would bet it's the latter. For many people, texting is more convenient than calling.... Read More , but they work only connecting to Wi-Fi or mobile data connections. They use the Internet, not the expensive text-messaging system.  Such apps allow users who don’t want to spend money on overpriced text message fees to have text-message-like conversions — one-to-one or in a group — on their phones for free, at least when connected to Wi-Fi networks.

While they’re primarily for text messages, you can also use WhatsApp and similar apps to share photos, video and audio messages.


android whatsapp

Twitter – Public Conversations

There’s some evidence that Twitter is becoming more popular, with usage among teens doubling in the past year. Twitter might seem a bit stuffy, like one of the established social networks, but it has much in common with some of the upstarts. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t demand your real name — you can use anything you like as your Twitter handle. You can then engage publicly with other people about topics of interest or set your Twitter account to private and have your tweets visible only to your friends, although most Twitter usage is public. You don’t even have to send your own tweets — you can follow other accounts and just view them.

Compared to Facebook, Twitter is seen as a place with fewer adults and less “real-life drama.” It’s also a much simpler social network, without Facebook’s constantly changing profile pages, confusing privacy settings Make Sure You're Secure With Facebook's New Privacy Settings: A Complete Guide Facebook also means two other things: frequent changes and privacy concerns. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Facebook, is that they’re not really concerned about what we like or our privacy. Nor should they... Read More , and no demands for your real name or identity. There’s also no drama around friend requests — you just follow someone you want to see messages from and they can follow you back if they want to see messages from you.

why use twitter


These aren’t the only interesting newer social-networks. There’s also Twitter’s Vine, which enables quick and easy sharing of six-second videos, Path, which offers a more private social diary Path - The Personal Photo Sharing App We've All Been Waiting For [iPhone] Read More , and Pinterest, which allows users to “pin” things they like to a virtual board and show them off The Unofficial Pinterest Guide This Pinterest guide will quickly show you how to use Pinterest and all of its features. This guide outlines everything there is to know about Pinterest. Read More . Many of these social tools are also going mobile-only or mobile-first. Mobile games are gradually replacing Facebook games for casual gamers, too.

Did we forget to mention any popular new online social activity? Leave a comment below and tell us!

Image Credit: Phil Campbel, Maryland GovPics

Related topics: Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter.

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  1. Brandon Croke
    August 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Great article, was curious when you mention "many users appear to be moving away from the trend of over sharing information linked to their real name and moving back to an older pseudonym mode" - do you have any data to support that?

  2. Nash J
    August 17, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I have twitter, tumblr, whatsapps, viber, and they all do what Facebook do. So I seldom use them. Except for the whatsapps which I use on my phone. I avoid using other social media on it. Becomes an addition

  3. Eric B
    August 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    People always are talking about how expensive text messaging is... Most major plans in the US have unlimited texting to anyone but charge for data. What's the point of these texting replacements like WhatsApp?

    • Wouter
      August 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      In Europe texting can be quite expensive, since we don't have any unlimited texting plans. So that's why there is a need for WhatsApp. Plus, you can also text to multiple users at the same time in group conversations and even share photos and videos.

      • Eric B
        August 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm

        Well that makes a lot more sense then. I guess I figured every cell provider would follow the "charge outrageous prices for data plans" bandwagon.

        Always glad there are alternatives to overpriced plans. :)

        Now all I need is a way to video chat over mms and I'll be set!

      • Nash J
        August 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

        I agree. Where I live there is wifi every where plus each texts cost $0.25. Data is $40. Do the maths.

    • Sean
      August 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Mainly because Whatsapp allows you to text international numbers at no extra charge. While domestic SMS and MMS maybe unlimited, international messages can get pricey. I have family around the world, Whatsapp is perfect for this.

  4. Christine S
    August 14, 2013 at 6:53 pm my son says its stupid but my niece seems to love it, do u have any info about it?

    • Daniel
      August 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      That's a very dangerous social network. People can ask the user anything. The problem is anonymous questions are allowed and lots of people take advantage of this situation to insult the user.
      It's pretty common to get bullied on In fact, it was all over the news a couple of days ago a girl that killed himself right after some anonymous people ask her to do it on the social network

      • Christine S
        August 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm

        Thank you, christine

  5. Paula Gean
    August 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Facebook will celebrate its 10th anniversary soon, proving it has stood the test of time - so far. So, don't anticipate it going anywhere for awhile.

  6. likefunbutnot
    August 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Youtube never gets any credit as a social networking service, but it does have most of the hallmarks of being one.

    I don't know even a single person who twits, but I do know a number of people who around 20 years old who are on Tumblr. Most of them have cooled on the service since the Yahoo acquisition but the general sentiment they all seem to share is that Facebook turned in to something horrible a few years ago.

    On the other hand, a digital services librarian I know told me that she'd never in a billion years try to show off tumblr in a classroom setting because it's too hard to control and filter tumblr, which might be exactly what the hip kids are in to these days.

  7. utku akdemir
    August 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I think you can also count stumbleupon for discovering websites