Facebook’s new tool to boost slumping user growth is letting each user have 5 accounts

July 15, 2022, 12:00 PM UTC
Social media apps
Facebook is letting some of its users have multiple profiles to fend off competition from rivals.
Matt Cardy—Getty Imagse

Amid slow user growth and increased competition from rivals, Meta is letting some of its users have multiple profiles on Facebook—breaking away from the “real name” requirement it has had in place since the company first began.

As part of the test, Facebook will allow users to create up to four additional profiles tied to their original account, letting them tailor their content to different relationships and interests. If users want a Facebook account solely for their coworkers and another for friends, and a whole new account for following influencers and specific content, this would be possible under the new system.  

“To help people tailor their experience based on interests and relationships, we’re testing a way for people to have more than one profile tied to a single Facebook account,” a Meta company spokesperson said in a statement.

On top of their main account, users will be able to create new accounts without using their real identity or display name and then switch seamlessly between profiles with a few clicks.

Importantly, all of the profiles in the account will be subject to Facebook’s policies, which prohibit misrepresentation and impersonation of public figures, and if one of the accounts violates Facebook’s policies, all of the users’ accounts will be affected.

Fend off the threats

The new rules are a major shift away from Meta’s long-standing Facebook policy that users use their real identity for their display name, and show just how far Meta is willing to go to fend off competition from rivals.

Competitors like TikTok, Twitter, and even Meta’s own photo and video sharing app Instagram all allow users to semianonymize their identity on their platforms.

In recent months, Meta has been seeing its profit and user growth plateau. The company has lost around half of its market value this year alone, a trend that worsened in February after Meta reported it had lost daily active users on its flagship Facebook site for the first time ever in the last quarter of 2021. And as TikTok grows, this trend may only worsen.

Indeed, one of the biggest risks facing Meta is a “decline in user activity from competition such as TikTok impacts revenue growth,” say Bank of America analysts Justin Post and Nitin Bansal.

While Meta’s true heart now seems to lie in creating its virtual-reality-enabled “metaverse,” rather than its highly popular social media platforms, it needs to keep bringing in profits to fund that vision. One way it hopes to do so is by monetizing Instagram Reels—the video sharing platform it first introduced in 2020 to challenge TikTok’s dominance in the A.I.-driven content space. Both TikTok and Instagram Reels provide videos related to user interest gathered from data, rather than from accounts users follow.

Meta’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, said in a memo to staff that Meta would be investing heavily into A.I.-driven content recommendation and added that user engagement on Reels could quickly bolster the bottom line, with ads on Reels coming “as quickly as possible.”


But new users and Instagram Reels may not be enough for Meta’s cloudy outlook. Meta also recently announced cost-cutting measures and a major scale-back on hiring as Mark Zuckerberg predicts “the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history” to come in the next year or so.

In a weekly employee Q&A session heard by Reuters, Zuckerberg also announced to staff that the company was leaving some vacant positions at the company unfilled and “turning up the heat” on performance management to weed out staffers who are unable to meet certain KPIs.

Despite the macroeconomic headwinds, some analysts are still optimistic. Post and Bansal at Bank of America note that despite challenges in the second half of the year, they still predict Meta to be a top Internet recession stock given its low expectations, healthy margins, expense flexibility, and valuation.

However, beyond the threat of TikTok, the analysts warn of other risks facing the company, like its margin profile being more negative than expected as it diversifies away from advertising; privacy issues impacting revenue generation; and the glacially slow monetization of Messenger and WhatsApp.

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