Not just popularity, Zuckerberg also lost $71 billion to tumble down 14 places in billionaire rankings

Meta’s stocks suffered after a $10 billion investment in the metaverse caused an 8 per cent drop in its profits, and Facebook’s active users stopped rising for the first time this year.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 01:45 PM IST
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg | Photo: Twitter Image

Sharing selfies or posting random thoughts on Facebook was the first taste of social media for most, before it became a data collection powerhouse. But with the rise of TikTok and Snapchat, and following embarrassing data leaks, the platform’s users stopped growing for the first time ever this year. Once a member of the elite club with a fortune of $142 billion, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has lost $71 billion in this year so far.

Fall from grace

After Facebook was renamed to Meta last year, the social media giant’s stocks declined in February when it failed to post any growth. This drop in performance alone cut down Meta CEO Zuckerberg’s wealth by $31 billion. The losses have pushed him down to the 20th position among global billionaires, which is his worst since 2014, since Meta dropped by 57 per cent this year.

As Meta struggles to attract users back from TikTok, a recent leaked report shows that Instagram Reels are also lagging behind. Only 20 per cent of Instagram users post the short video, and most of them have no engagement. On the other hand, TikTok is on track to overtake both Facebook and Instagram when it comes to money spent on the platform for influencer marketing. Instagram’s attempts to mirror TikTok’s features backfired, and it had to roll them back after being slammed by users.

Success story gone sour

Over the past decade, Facebook has also been hit by a lot of bad press, starting when it was revealed that the site conducted a psychological impact on 70,000 users without their knowledge in 2012. While censorship was called out, Zuckerberg came under fire when it was found that Cambridge Analytica used leaked data of tens of millions of Facebook users to manipulate voters during the 2016 US presidential polls.

In 2019, Facebook was hit by a $5 billion fine over violation of user privacy, which was the highest ever for a tech firm. Already facing flak for not clearing out hate speech and fake news from its platform, Facebook was called out by its own employees and politicians for failing to fact-check political advertisements. In India, it faced scrutiny over the regional chief Ankhi Das’s links to the top leadership of the ruling BJP.

Losing real money to the virtual universe?

But the recent blow to Meta’s stocks is being attributed to a massive investment in the virtual ecosystem called metaverse, being touted as the future of the online experience. But betting $10 billion on the metaverse in 2021, caused an 8 per cent dip in profits for the company, and the quest for a digital realm is eroding Zuckerberg’s wealth in the real world.

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