This week in social media news, Pinterest streamlines desktop saves, Instagram adds Music stickers, Instant Articles show promise, Verizon shutters Go90, Facebook patents get creepy and Americans believe social networks are politically biased.
In other news, Facebook fosters conversations around Stories, Instagram slims down for Mexico, Instagram releases an IGTV handbook, LinkedIn adds QR codes, Facebook lets you see which ads are running, a study reveals potentially deceptive privacy practices and Twitter vows ad transparency.
Also, Instagram debuts video chat, Google imitates Pinterest, Facebook loosens the reigns on cryptocurrency ads and helps fight spoilers. Twitter pledges to fight spam and abuse, Canadian news on Facebook gets a fact-checker, Facebook launches a business magazine and confirms time management tools, Snapchat catches up to the revenue share model and YouTube boasts new features to keep its high earners motivated.
Pinterest Adds One-Click Desktop Saving
What used to take three clicks has been reduced to one with Pinterest’s latest desktop site update. Hovering over a Pin will overlay a drop-down menu of a user’s boards and try to predict which one the user will want to save it to. After selecting a board and “Save,” the process is technically two clicks if Pinterest doesn’t predict correctly, but it’s still more streamlined than the old process, which takes the user to a new screen.
Music Stickers Add Soundtrack To Instagram Stories
Instagram continues its integration with music with a new feature added to Stories on Thursday. Users can now add music to their Stories from a curated list and place the sticker wherever they want so that a section of the song plays at the desired time. Instagram users on iOS can also select a song before recording, allowing for lip sync videos, a dramatic soundtrack to the action, etc.
In March, parent company Facebook announced deals with several record labels including Warner Music Group. In May, Instagram added integration with Spotify so that users can share songs directly into their feeds.
Facebook Touts Early ‘Instant Article’ Subscription Response
Publishers like The Washington Post have partnered with Facebook to test a feature that allows users access to a certain amount of articles before presenting a subscription paywall. Publishers control the number of free articles a user can view before subscribing, as well as the cost to do so.
Facebook says the Instant Article test has so far yielded “promising results,” claiming that people in the test group were 17 percent more likely to subscribe to the publications directly from Facebook than from standard web links.
Instant Articles will roll out to Latin America in the coming weeks and eventually become available to publishers worldwide.
Do Social Networks Censor Political Views? Most Americans Say ‘Yes’
Pew Research has released a study on Thursday that asked respondents whether social media sites like Facebook and Twitter censor political views. Respondents from Democratic and Republican voters agreed, although at different levels, that social media sites do, in fact, censor opposing viewpoints to their own—72 percent agreed with this statement.
Republicans and those who lean Republican tend to distrust large entities with a disproportionate amount of control, so it’s not surprising that 85 percent in this group thought that the platforms intentionally censored political viewpoints. To be fair, both former and current employees have admitted such practices in favor of liberal news before new policies were enacted.
Even Democrats and those who lean Democrat agreed, with 62 percent believing that certain political views are being deliberately hidden or removed. There is a lack of overall trust for big tech companies, with only 28 percent of all 4,600 Americans surveyed believing they would do what is right most or all of the time.
Say Goodbye To Verizon’s Go90 App
Following the acquisition of Oath, Verizon is discontinuing its Go90 app, a multimedia platform available to anyone that launched in 2015. According to Verizon, the problem with Go90 was its inability to achieve scaled distribution.
“Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today’s mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications,” a Verizon spokesperson said in a statement.
The app will officially be discontinued on July 31.
Facebook Wants To Listen To Your TV And Read Your Emotions
Several patents have been filed by Facebook over the years that range from tracking your daily routine to predicting life changes and observing your TV viewing habits. Facebook claims these ideas are meant to anticipate future technology, but they all mirror the company’s present-day habit of monitoring and collecting user data to sell.
One such patent reported by The New York Times would use hidden signals embedded in a TV program to turn on and record microphones in a user’s environment. Another, reported by Mashable, would read a user’s facial expression and pick an appropriate “selfie mask” to overlay in augmented reality.
“Most of the technology outlined in these patents has not been included in any of our products, and never will be,” Allen Lo, a Facebook vice president and deputy general counsel, and the company’s head of intellectual property told The New York Times.
Business will often filed patents simply to be the first to do so, but in light of Facebook’s public scrutiny, the timing of these reports isn’t a fortutious one.
Facebook Stories Adds Group Chat And Reactions
Facebook users can now respond to Stories with digital stickers and emoji “reactions” such as “like,” “love” and “sad.” Users can also reply to a Story and add other people to that reply, creating a group chat thread in Facebook Messenger. Messenger replies can be checked without leaving the Story, as well.
Facebook’s attempt to copy and paste the success of Snapchat’s Stories feature hasn’t resulted in the massive user adoption it hoped for. As of May, the company reported 150 million Facebook Stories DAU, compared to 300 million DAU on Instagram Stories. By comparison, Snapchat—which first popularized the disappearing message format—reported just 191 million DAU in the first quarter of 2018.
Instagram Lite App Rolls Out In Mexico
In an attempt to reach emerging markets, Instagram has quietly launched a streamlined version of its Android app in Mexico on Wednesday. Instagram Lite takes up just 573 Kilobytes of storage space, compared to the regular 30 Megabytes.
Despite its smaller size, Instagram Lite supports many of the same features as the regular Instagram app, including Stories, filters, Instagram Feed and the Explore tab. According to the app listing in Google Play, messaging functionality will be added soon. The app does not include access to Instagram’s new IGTV.
IGTV Handbook Outlines Best Practices For Creators
Fresh off its IGTV announcement, Instagram has released a handbook that provides tips, guidelines and accessories to help creators produce the best videos they can for the platform. Since IGTV is a vertical video format, the handbook provides step-by-step instructions for framing the shot, lighting, video quality and editing.
“This an exciting opportunity for you to get closer to your fans, explore your creativity, grow your audience and build your brand,” says the handbook.
LinkedIn QR Codes Speed Up On-The-Go Connections
Imagine you’re at a conference or business meeting and you want to connect with a professional on LinkedIn. Rather than manually search for that contact later based on their business card, LinkedIn has added a QR code feature that instantly pulls up someone’s profile. This QR code can be printed and added to brochures, business cards, event lanyards, etc. or added to an email signature.
Users can scan someone’s QR code with the LinkedIn app on both iOS and Android, after which they will be taken to that person’s profile. Users can access their own QR codes through the iOS app, with the feature coming to Android soon, per LinkedIn. The code can be shared online through iMessage, email and other apps.
Google And Facebook Are Deceptive By Design, Study Says
We all know that Google and Facebook—the largest ad sellers in the world—collect data, but are their products designed to trick users into surrendering privacy? “Deceptive by Design,” by watchdog group The Norwegian Consumer Council Biased says “yes.” Despite GDPR compliance, privacy settings are difficult to navigate and use scare tactics to trick users into agreeing to share data, the group concludes.
Privacy options are disabled by default, the study found, and users are given warnings about turning data sharing off, such as not being able to mute ads or find out if someone is being impersonated on Facebook. Facebook will even add a fake red dot behind the privacy settings pop-up, making users believe they have a notification waiting for them, even if it’s not true. This adds a sense of urgency so that users will breeze through the four option selection process Facebook prefers instead of navigating 13 steps to opt out.
Twitter Introduces Ad Transparency Center
Internet users who want to learn more about an ad served on Twitter can now visit the site’s Ad Transparency Center. Anyone, even non-Twitter users, can search for the advertiser’s handle to view all ad campaigns that have run within the last seven days with that identity.
For political ads, users will be able to view the advertiser’s billing information, ad spend and impression data per Tweet as well as demographic targeting data for the ads being served. Foreign nationals are banned from purchasing political ads on Twitter. The Ads Transparency Center will include all advertisers on Twitter globally, but only US federal election campaigning ads that fall under the company’s new policy will be shown at this stage.
“We are doing our due diligence to get this right and will have more updates to come,” wrote Bruce Falk, Twitter’s general manager of revenue product and engineering. “We stay committed to iterating and improving our work in this space, and doing what’s right for our community.”
Users Can Now View All Active Ads On Facebook And Affiliates
During a press event on Thursday, Facebook said it will allow users to view all active ads on a Facebook page that are running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and partner networks. The ads will be visible through “Info and Ads,” a new section in Pages. Users will be able to see them all and flag those seemed inappropriate, even if the ads were not targeted to them personally.
“We believe really deeply in transparency because we believe it leads to changes in behavior,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said. “It will hold us accountable. It will hold advertisers accountable.”
Instagram Launches Video Chat And Topic Channels
Instagram users can now video chat with up to four friends at a time from their direct inbox. During the conversation, users can minimize the video window to continue browsing and posting in the app as usual. New settings allow control over who can initiate a video chat to prevent unwanted notifications.
New Topic Channels sort channels by both topic and hashtag, allowing users to personalize their recommendations as well as discover new accounts to follow. Users can mute topics, as well, if they’re not interested and unmute them at any time to add them back to the mix.
Instagram has also partnered with Ariana Grande, Buzzfeed, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel and NBA to offer custom camera effects. The new effects are available immediately if the user is already a follower, or they can “try them on” before committing to a channel. Instagram says that new camera effects are coming soon.
Google Tests Pinterest-Like Image Search Results
As Pinterest’s Eric Edge said, personalization is at the very core of social, and a number of platforms have taken that to heart with new features this week. Google has begun testing a new look on desktop that arranges image search results vertically instead of horizontally and adding short captions. The results appear more like Pinterest and allow users to click on them for more information. When a user clicks on the desired image, related images are displayed underneath along with seller information, if applicable.
Pinterest continues to inspire the way Google handles discovery. Last year, a dynamic information feature was added to mobile searches and Google Goggles will pull up information about an object or place based on a photo.
Facebook Users Can Now ‘Snooze’ Certain Keywords
Online users who want to avoid spoilers to their favorite TV show, the latest movie or even topics they’re tired of seeing can now “snooze” them in the News Feed. Snoozing a keyword will keep posts containing it from appearing in a user’s newsfeed for 30 days.
“We hope that with additional options to help tailor your News Feed experience, you’ll be able to spend more time focusing on the things that matter,” said Facebook.
Google Unveils New Advertising Marketplace
On July 10, Google will officially unveil three main pillars as part of its new consolidated ad offerings—Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager. The rebranding means that DoubleClick and AdWords will no longer be separate entities. Google said that these new offerings will focus primarily on consumer privacy.
“This is just the beginning of the next chapter in our platforms story, said Google. “We’re committed to building solutions that help you achieve your marketing goals while meeting consumers’ high expectations for privacy, transparency and control.”
Facebook Adds Exception For Cryptocurrency Ads
Zuckerberg’s social media giant is reportedly working on its own cryptocurrency to be traded between users. This might be why Facebook has partially rolled back its ban on certain cryptocurrency ads. Beginning Wednesday, Facebook updated it policy to allow ads that promote cryptocurrency and related content from pre-approved advertisers. The site will continue to prohibit ads that promote binary options and initial coin offerings.
Facebook, as with Google, banned cryptocurrency ads on its platform due to a large amount of fraud surrounding the new technology. Some advertisers have gotten around these policies by purposely misspelling titles like “Bitc0in,” but Facebook hopes to reign in this activity so that only verified advertisers are allowed. Those who want to post such ads must fill out an application, along with licenses, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, etc.
Agence France-Press (AFP) Will Fact-Check Canadian News On Facebook
Facebook has partnered Agence France-Presse (AFP) to evaluate news stories in Canada for accuracy. The partnership will run evaluate news stories in Canada in both English and French, defining them as being true, false or offering inaccurate or misleading information. Launched this week, the third-party fact checking will run at least until after the next federal election in October 2019, while covering news on upcoming votes in Quebec, New Brunswick and Alberta.
Twitter Enacts New Spam And Abuse Policies
It’s no secret that any public forum online where you can remain anonymous and hide behind a computer screen is a breeding ground for hateful speech and trolls. Twitter has been called out a number of times for either not enforcing its anti-abuse policies or banning accounts based on political bias. On Tuesday, Twitter announced new initiatives to reign in this behavior and “improve the health” of conversations on its platform.
Twitter can now make an account “read only” if it is suspected of being spam or intentionally abusive. Freezing the account will still allow users to view posts, but they are not able to engage with or follow. Later this year, new Twitter account sign-ups will be required to confirm either an email address or phone number to verify identity. in the meantime, existing accounts that appear “spammy” will be audited for signs of automated sign-up activity.
“But we know there’s still a lot of work to be done,” writes Twitter. “Inauthentic accounts, spam, and malicious automation disrupt everyone’s experience on Twitter, and we will never be done with our efforts to identify and prevent attempts to manipulate conversations on our platform.”
Facebook Grounds Internet-beaming Drone Idea
Beaming internet to those without access is a novel idea but proved harder than companies initially thought. Last year, Google shuttered its Titan program last year and now Facebook is re-thinking its approach. The company successfully flew two successful test flights but has decided to hand off this area to the aerospace industry. Facebook has decided not to design or build its own aircrafts and close the facility in Bridgewater.
Facebook isn’t abandoning the idea altogether. It will continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity and other technologies like flight control computers and high-density batteries. The company will also push for policies to get more spectrum for HAPS and participating in a number of aviation advisory boards and rule-making committees in the US and internationally.
Facebook Releases Business Magazine, ‘Grow’
One of the largest digital platforms in the world is turning to print with Grow, a “thought leadership platform that shines a light on people, companies and trends challenging the status quo.” Facebook calls Grow a marketing program that includes print, digital and events in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Sweden. A new partnership with Founders Forum and Vanity Fair launches later this year. The print version is available only in the UK and northern Europe.
The first issue seems to cater to businesses that want to reach finicky millennials, with stories like “The Millennial Whisperer,” featuring Oscar Olsson, the tattooed, bearded creative director of H&M’s new fashion label. Other topics in this issue include making legacy alcohol brands artisanal, selling natural products and subscription boxes, among others. Grow was designed to keep businesses ahead of the curve, said Facebook.
Instagram And Facebook Develop Time Management Tools
Spending a lot of time on social media? Facebook has developed tools called “Your Time on Facebook” and “Your Time on Instagram” that would tell users how long they spend on each platform. The unreleased feature was discovered inside the apps’ code and confirmed by TechCrunch. Users will have the option to be locked out of the app after a predetermined amount of time.
“Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch. “We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”
Snapchat Tests Revenue Sharing With Creators
Social media creators may soon be able to earn ad revenue from their posts on Snapchat, the company announced. During its VidCon keynote on Thursday, Snapchat said that it has begun testing a revenue share model. Although the company would not reveal additional details, Snap’s head of talent partnerships Lauren Gallo said that her main focuses for the creator community are growth, discoverability, analytics and monetization.
After telling creators for years that “Snapchat is for friends, not creators,” the social network has taken a new, hands-on approach to foster talent and by extension, revenue. As early as last summer, the company began inviting its most popular creators to visit its headquarters to talk strategy and give them free stuff. Last month, Snap, Inc. hosted its first Creators Summit and soon after announced Yellow, an incubator program for mobile content creators.
The monetization model is also in sync with Snap’s new publisher model, removing licensing fees in favor of revenue sharing.
YouTube Adds New Revenue Tools For Top Creators
Also during VidCon, YouTube boasted how much money its top earners are making from the platform. The number of creators earning five figures a year has increased 35 percent, YouTube claims, and the number of creators earning six figures is up by 40 percent. Aside from ad revenue share, YouTube is adding new features to help creators earn more revenue from their audiences.
One new feature is called Premieres, which turns new videos into a live event. The feature will allow creators to build hype around new content by automatically creating a public landing page. At the scheduled date and time, subscribers will be able to watch the pre-recorded video live while chatting with the creator and other fans. Super Chat (paying to have chat comments highlighted) and Channel Memberships are now available on traditional YouTube uploads, including Premieres.
Creators can now sell merchandise directly from their YouTube channels through a partnership with TeeSpring, with other partners to be added in the future. This will be available to all eligible US-based channels with over 10,000 subscribers.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, June 29. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.