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Mark Zuckerberg said he missed a giant shift in social networking

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors” in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN | AFP | Getty Images

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to anticipate a newer trend in social networking that contributed to the success of rival TikTok.

In an interview published Wednesday in analyst Ben Thompson’s Statechery newsletter, the Facebook founder said he “sort of missed” a newer way that people “interact with discovered content” via social networking services. People are increasingly using their social networking “feeds” to discover compelling content as opposed to viewing the media shared by the friends that they follow, he explained.

Although people still interact with content that their friends share in their feeds, the overall social networking trend has “by and large shifted to you use your feed to discover content, you find things that are interesting, you send them to your friends in messages and you interact there,” Zuckerberg said.

“So in that world, it is actually somewhat less important who produces the content that you’re finding, you just want the best content,” the Facebook founder said. (Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta last year.)

Analysts have attributed TikTok’s rapid rise in popularity to its algorithm, which can recommend compelling short videos to users based on their habits and viewing history. TikTok’s rise has posed a significant challenge to the company, which is experiencing a decline in North American Facebook users, and a stock price that’s lost more than 56% this year so far.

Zuckerberg referred to TikTok as a “very effective competitor” during the interview and acknowledged that the company was somewhat slow to this because it didn’t fit my pattern of a social thing, it felt more like a shorter version of YouTube to me,” he said.

Zuckerberg also believes it’s important for Meta to develop AI that can recommend a range of content including photos and text to users besides just short videos.

“Sometimes I want to watch specifically videos, but a lot of the times I just want the best stuff,” he said.

Earlier this week, Meta debuted the Quest Pro virtual reality headset intended for VR enthusiasts as opposed to newcomers that will cost $1,500.

Watch: Meta will attract more buyers because it’s at an attractive price.

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