Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company was retooling to ensure young people were its top priority amid reports that Facebook had misled shareholders about declining teens and younger users. The company will make major changes to its Facebook app and Instagram app and invest billions of dollars to create its vision for the metaverse.
Zuckerberg stated that the company will do more to attract young adults between 18 and 29 years old, despite the fact that it faces increased competition from iMessage and TikTok. Zuckerberg stated that Reels, the TikTok competitor, would be just as important to Stories during the company's third quarter earnings call.
He also said that the company was retooling its internal workforce to help young people. Whistleblowers' disclosures regarding Facebooks internal research into teen mental health prompted a series Congressional hearings on child safety and a wave headlines about how the photo-sharing app could be dangerous to its most vulnerable users. Other internal documents also show that Instagram and Facebook have experienced significant declines in engagement with teens and young adults over the years.
Zuckerberg stated that another priority would be to build its vision for a new metaverse. However, he did not comment on reports that the company would alter its name to reflect the company's new focus on augmented reality or virtual reality. But he made it clear that the company has high ambitions in this space. He stated that the goal of the metaverse is to reach one billion people. He said that the metaverse could allow for digital commerce worth hundreds of billions of dollar.
Monday's announcement also stated that the company will continue to report two sets financials. One for its app family, which includes Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and one for Reality Labs, which oversees its augmented reality and virtual reality projects. Facebook stated that its 2021 profit would be $10 billion less due to its investment into Reality Labs and that it will continue to increase its AR/VR spending over the next few years.
Zuckerberg also addressed ongoing revelations arising from the "Facebook Papers," an ongoing series of articles that were based on documents provided to him by Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former employee. The CEO described the work of a group of news agencies as "a coordinated effort in selectively using leaked documents to paint an inaccurate picture of our company." These documents have been used in more than a dozen stories about Facebook's failures to combat hate speech. They have also been given to members of Congress and to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Zuckerberg stated that "any honest account should know that these issues don't primarily concern social media." "This means that, no matter how Facebook acts, we won't be able to solve these problems on our own."