Social’s Billion User Club

#Web3Weekly: April 9–15, 2023

Peter A. McKay
The Modern Scientist
3 min readApr 16


This post is adapted from the latest edition of my newsletter #Web3Weekly. If you would like to receive it in your inbox every Sunday, subscribe here.

There are now six social networks that each have more than a billion monthly active users.

Frankly, I stumbled across that striking little factoid the other day while working on another project. Below are the stats according to Statista, expressed in billions of MAU as of January:

  • Facebook: 2.96
  • YouTube: 2.51
  • WhatsApp: 2
  • Instagram: 2
  • WeChat: 1.31
  • TikTok: 1.05

Why it matters: Although the web remains an open platform to publish information, the numbers above highlight the challenge in getting real people to actually pay attention to what you publish in 2023.

The latter task often requires a proprietary social network, because people’s time spent online has concentrated so drastically on social. (A proprietary search engine like Google can also accomplish the same thing, although that’s outside the scope of the above data. But you get the point.)

The list also highlights who exactly controls access to all that user attention. Note that three of the six billion-user platforms are owned by Meta — a.k.a. the company formerly known as Facebook — which has been trying furiously for almost two years to convince us it’s anything but a social company.

As you can see, that’s complete bullshit. If your company is running three of the world’s top six social networks, and the vast majority of your company’s revenue is coming from ad sales on those social networks, congratulations. You’re still a social media company.

Two other billion-user platforms are based in China. In the West, WeChat has often been forgotten lately amid all the press heaped upon TikTok, because that’s the only one we have access to here. But WeChat’s success domestically in China is also extraordinary, underscoring the country’s rise as a major market for internet services in its own right.

Finally, the other billion-user platform is Google-owned YouTube. Thus Google is the only entity that controls both a social network and a search engine in the top tier, which is downright mind-boggling.

On to the week’s big headlines:

  • Bitcoin rallied above $30,000 for the first time since June, helped by an improved outlook for U.S. interest rates. The global valuation of crypto markets rose to $1.3 trillion. And bitcoin dominance, a measure of the token’s share of the broader crypto market, topped 46% in recent trading, a two-year high.
  • New data showed a monthly decline in wholesale-level inflation in the U.S. The report raised investors’ hopes that an easier interest-rate policy is on the way from the Federal Reserve. Separately, the central bank’s St. Louis branch published a tongue-in-cheek report (by Fed standards) showing that egg prices in the U.S. have fallen in satoshi terms lately.
  • The Ethereum network completed its Shanghai upgrade, which enables the withdrawal of staked ether. The token’s price rallied to a new 11-month high above $2,000 following the upgrade.
  • New data from Pew Research show that almost two-thirds of Americans don’t trust cryptocurrencies.
  • Borrowing against non-fungible tokens is now a $1 billion industry. Yowza.
  • Uniswap launched a new mobile wallet to promoted wider adoption of decentralized finance.
  • Solana began shipping its Android-based Saga smartphone to users who pre-ordered, with wider availability coming in May. Solana is pitching the device as the market’s first “web3 smartphone.” Decrypt review Andrew Hayward characterized the Saga as an interesting early-stage attempt at such a product. But he also noted it still has a lot of web2 elements left over from conventional Android devices.
  • Gaming equipment maker Razer is launching a web3 incubator.
  • A U.S. court sentenced hacker James Zhong to a year in prison for stealing 50,000 bitcoins in the infamous Silk Road breach of 2012.
  • Bloomberg News reports that Coinbase’s product lead Vishal Gupta is leaving the exchange to pursue an unspecified new crypto project.
  • Arkansas’ legislature passed a “right to mine” bill giving crypto validators the same rights as conventional data centers to operate in the state. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
  • Telegram founder Pavel Valeryevich payed a record $15 million for a license plate. He cast the winning bid for the plate, which reads “P7,” at a charity auction in Dubai.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading the newsletter today! If you want to receive updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list.

Note: #Web3Weekly content is intended for journalistic purposes only, not as investment advice. Always DYOR and consult appropriate financial professionals before making investment decisions.

Best wishes for a healthy and productive week ahead.



Peter A. McKay
The Modern Scientist

I publish the newsletter #Web3Weekly. Former Head of Content & Writer Development at Capsule Social. Other priors: WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice News.