YouTube Enjoyed Most 'Significant Growth' Among Tech Giants During Pandemic

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Facebook’s growth has leveled off over the last five years, according to new survey results from Pew Research Center

YouTube was the tech platform that enjoyed the most “significant growth” during the pandemic, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center on Wednesday, as the Google-owned video giant — like several streaming services over the last year — benefited from people remaining at home.

The key takeaway: 81% of Americans said they use YouTube on a regular basis, which is up from 73% in 2019, the last time Pew released similar findings. The only other tech platform with comparable growth was Reddit, whose usage grew from 11% of Americans to 18% between 2019 and 2021. (Pew looked at several other major apps and websites in the survey, including Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.)

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“YouTube is the most commonly used online platform asked about in this survey, and there’s evidence that its reach is growing,” Pew announced after releasing its findings.

In particular, YouTube seems to be a go-to spot for younger people, with 95% of respondents ages 18 to 29 saying they use the platform, as well as 91% of those 30 to 49; for comparison, 70% of respondents 18 to 29 said they use Facebook, which grows to 77% for those between the ages of 30 and 49.

Still, it’s worth pointing out Facebook remains very popular among Americans overall, with 69% of respondents saying they use the service — second only to YouTube. That makes sense when you consider Facebook has continued to add domestic users over the last two years, despite already having a ton of users relative to its social media competitors. In Q1 2019, Facebook had 186 million daily users in the U.S. and Canada, and that figure jumped to 195 million people by the end of 2020. For comparison, Twitter had 37 million daily users in the U.S. by the start of 2021.

“Facebook’s growth has leveled off over the last five years,” Pew said, “but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States: 69% of adults today say they ever use the site, equaling the share who said this two years prior.”

Here’s a full look at Pew’s survey on the most commonly used tech platforms:

(via Pew Research Center)

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A few other quick notes:

  • The share of people using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp is “statistically unchanged” since 2019, according to Pew.
  • 72% of Americans said they use some form of social media, but there are some “stark age differences,” Pew noted: 84% of respondents 18 to 29 said they use social media, compared to only 45% of respondents 65 and older saying they use social media.
  • Pinterest’s popularity is largely fueled by its female fans, with 46% of women saying they use the picture-heavy social media site, compared to only 16% of men.
  • Among those who use Facebook, 49% of respondents said they check it multiple times per day — the highest rate among any other service; Snapchat, with 45% of respondents saying they check their accounts multiple times a day, was second on that measure.

Pew’s data is based on a survey of 1,502 American adults from January and February of this year; the margin for error was plus or minus 2.9%.

Sean Burch