Considering how much pain and havoc the rise of TikTok has caused for Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, finding out that TikTok.com makes up some of the most viewed links and domains on Facebook is just adding salt to the wound. Ouch.
In its newly-released second quarter “Widely Viewed Content Report,” which focuses on U.S. content that appears in users’ feeds, Meta reported that TikTok.com—literally, just the link to the domain itself—accounted for 35.9 million views in users’ feeds. TikTok also made it into Facebook’s most widely viewed domains, where it took the fourth spot, garnering 108 million views.
Meta reported on four types of content in its report: domains, links, Facebook pages, and Facebook posts. Each type of content included a ranked list of the top 20 pieces of content in every category. This might seem like a lot, but the company states that the content in the report only represents 3.04% of what people see in their Facebook feeds. Meta maintains that the most common experience on the platform is for people to users to see posts without links from their friends or from groups they’ve joined.
It should be noted that the company did not include links and domains for Meta-owned domains in some sections, which means it’s unclear whether Instagram, Facebook, or WhatsApp content made it to the top of these lists. Considering how Instagram blows up my phone at every opportunity, I’d bet lots of precious coffee that Meta is pushing its own content.
As someone who tends to find very strange and corny content on Facebook the few times that I do open it, Meta’s report was fascinating to me. It provided a look behind the weird curtain of content that’s shared on Facebook and reinforced something I had suspected for a while: a good chunk of the content being viewed on Facebook is reposted stuff from somewhere else, yesterday’s tired memes. (I’m not talking about posts from your high school friends or your Aunt Dolores, but rather the videos, media, information, etc.) This was echoed by Technology Review, which also noted that the content on Facebook is very spammy.
There were some bright spots in the report. When it comes to news, CBS News, NBC News, the New York Post, CNN, The New York Times, NPR, ABC, TODAY, and Variety all made it into the top 20 most widely viewed domains. To my chagrin, the Daily Mail beat all of the aforementioned outlets, ranking #4. Hilariously, though, TMZ also made the list at #14, cementing my belief that Americans love to read about celebrities so that they can complain about them later.
However, other parts of the report, such as the most widely viewed Facebook posts, were less inspiring. The most-viewed post was a 2018 clip from Family Feud about a 69 joke, which had 53.2 million views. Bizarre videos making fun of the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard trial were also on this list, racking up 91.1 million views.
Overall, this hodgepodge of content makes it very difficult to understand what kind of platform Facebook is in the year 2022. Facebook has been trying to be everything for so long, it’s totally unclear what it’s supposed to be used for now. (It’s currently trying to do the same thing to Instagram.) The young folks don’t know. Millions of older ones, it seems, are content to just keep rolling with it for now.
You can check out some of the highlights, the fails, and the WTFs I found in Meta’s report about Facebook up next.