With many countries still subject to extensive lockdowns as a result of Covid-19, the use of social media seems to be increasing, leading to more competition among social media players.
The work from home policy and increase in internet usage has been a boon to social media platforms, with their growing active user bases. Among all the trends followed on social media platforms, a key focus has been around audio-chat apps and online dating in the first two months of 2021.
Clubhouse brings competition to Twitter and Facebook
Clubhouse, an audio-chat social networking app, officially launched on April 2020, came into the limelight a few weeks ago when Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on it. Many other CEOs and celebrities have been embracing the app recently. Clubhouse creates a place where people can meet up to host, listen to, and in some cases, join conversations within the app’s community. With reportedly only 5,000 users, it is already being hyped as the next Twitter or Snapchat.
In less than a year, Clubhouse is already facing competition from Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is working on a similar product called Spaces, although the feature is currently available to a small group of beta users. Since the feature is integrated directly into Twitter, its users may have an easier time finding an audience. Facebook has been everywhere, starting from mobile payments to social networking to marketplaces and many more.
A significant proportion of Generation Hashtag uses either Facebook itself, or WhatsApp and Instagram, which are owned by the company. It was not at all surprising to hear that Facebook is reportedly in the process of developing its own Clubhouse twin, as it looks to surpass the rapid growth of the audio social app.
Bumble gets buzzing in online dating platforms
The popularity of online dating among the Generation Hashtag population is primarily attributed to their fast-paced lifestyles and robust technology adoption. Competition in online dating has always been significant. Facebook Dating was rolled out in 2018 to challenge Match Group’s near monopoly on the online dating market, and is now available in 20 countries. Match Group operates several popular online dating services including Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder, Meetic, PlentyOfFish, OurTime, Eureka, and Pairs.
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In February 2021, the Blackstone backed dating app Bumble soared on its stock market debut. Its successful IPO with 76% increase in the share price lead to a $14bn valuation. In a similar theme, OkCupid is now aiming to raise at least a $230m for a new SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). In 2020, Bumble reached 100 million users and has become the primary competitor to Tinder among people under 35. Badoo and Tinder are the two largest platforms worldwide, although Tinder seems to still be growing while Badoo has lost active users in the past five years. Bumble is the challenger to Tinder’s supremacy in the North American and European market.
Regulation and data privacy are concerns on social media
With all the competition intensifying among social media platforms, regulation and data privacy is a key concern. Despite all the hype for Clubhouse – it is not without controversy. Many app users have supposedly dealt with bullying and nuisance on its platform. The company has been challenged for having no content moderation policies, or basic safety features like blocking or the ability to report malicious activity. A security research report by Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) discovered certain susceptibilities in Clubhouse, as the Shanghai based company Agora Inc, provides the backend infrastructure to Clubhouse. This has raised concerns that said it could be vulnerable to spying by the Chinese government. Although the company has said to be looking into mitigate these concerns.
Although online dating is a convenient service for Generation Hashtag, there is plenty of debate around the safety and privacy of these apps as well. Governments across the globe are implementing regulations aimed at making online dating safer, particularly for young people.
New Jersey State has passed a law that requires dating sites to disclose the details of background checks, and the Internet Dating Safety Act, a New York State law, requires online dating sites to caution users not to divulge any personal details.
The Asian online dating market may still be at a nascent stage, but many countries are taking a strong regulatory stance towards dating sites. China, for example, has completely banned transnational matchmaking agencies involving monetary transactions.