WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram (all owned by Facebook, Inc.), and Google’s YouTube are the most popular social networks. Unsurprisingly, Brazil and Mexico, the most populous countries in Latin America, are home to the majority of Facebook users in the region. This also applies to other major social networks. The third place is occupied by either Argentina or Colombia. The latter has the third most LinkedIn and Snapchat users on the subcontinent, but Argentina ranks third when it comes to Instagram and Twitter users.
Like other sectors, social media has been impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 in Latin America. With more people staying at home to avoid contagion, internet users in the region’s largest markets turned to social media to comment on the pandemic. The situation has also changed how different sectors use these platforms. Throughout March 2020, the number of posts by governments increased while the number of posts by digital influencers decreased, both on Facebook and on Twitter in comparison to March of the previous year. Simultaneously, Instagram accounts related to finance, health or education were more active during that period.
However, more people spending a greater amount of time at home may not necessarily lead to a long-term rise in online social networking in the region. In a survey conducted in January 2020, before the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, at least one out of four Colombian and Brazilian internet users interviewed said it was likely that they would use social media less during the year. The same was true for one out of five Argentines surveyed. Brazilians and Colombians who participated in another study were the most receptive to the governmental use of artificial intelligence, suggesting that concerns over privacy might not be the main cause for an eventual social media ‘detox’. For now, Latin Americans continue to post, like, and share in high volume.