This week in social media news, Microsoft, Google and others announce a DTP partnership, Facebook investigates a data breach, Instagram cracks down on underage users and lets friends know when you’re online, WhatsApp limits forwarding, YouTube makes plans for creators, Reddit gets chatty and WeChat Pay has big plans.

In other news, LinkedIn adds tools that encourage sharing and Facebook will remove posts designed to cause violence to others. Snapchat ads get targeted, Instagram makes privacy less awkward, Twitter rolls up its sleeves ahead of the US mid-term elections and Twitter partners with Bloomberg for algorithmic trading. Facebook users love their emoji, but time will tell if they appreciate getting Facebook notifications on Instagram. Meanwhile, Snapchat woos journalists, Facebook ads get artsy, Pinterest gives Gen X some love, influencers prefer Instagram and Twitch adds GIFs to the conversation.

Media Giants Join Forces For Data Transfer Project (DTP)

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google have formed an alliance by joining the Data Transfer Project—an open-source, service-to-serve platform that allows users to transfer data between services. Data portability is a major directive of Europe’s GDPR, although DTP partners are citing innovation and competition rather than compliance with an outside governing body.

“The DTP partners believe that people should use products because they provide unique value and features,” reads a DTP white paper released with the announcement. “If a user wants to switch to another product or service because they think it is better, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice, rather than being locked in, helps drive innovation and facilitates competition.”

The upside to transferring data means that brands won’t be able to hold data hostage as a reason for staying—as happens with fitness apps, for example. The downside is an increased risk of privacy violation, which Facebook readily acknowledged.

“People increasingly want to be able to move their data among different kinds of services like these, but they expect that the companies that help them do that will also protect their data,” wrote Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s privacy and public policy director.

Facebook has already begun testing data transfer between its own entities. As of Thursday, Facebook Messenger users can import their Instagram contacts onto the platform.


Facebook Suspends Data Analytics Firm Pending Investigation

Facebook has temporarily suspended Crimson Hexagon amid allegations that it violated data-sharing policies. The probe is in response to an inquiry from the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Crimson Hexagon had deals to analyze Facebook data for clients that include several US government agencies and a Russian organization with ties to the Kremlin.

Crimson Hexagon offers “instant access to over one trillion consumer conversations from social media, forums, blogs, reviews and more.” Its clients include Paramount Pictures, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Adidas, General Mills, General Motors and Twitter, according to the company website.


YouTube Announces YouTube Learning, Outlines Creator Priorities For 2018

On Thursday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki outlined her plans for the creator community that will span the second half of 2018. The first is initiative is a plan to better communication with users about changes. YouTube recently introduced a new dashboard that gives creators news and updates so they can better prepare for changes or learn about new features.

The second goal is to continue helping creators build their audiences and support themselves financially through paid subscriptions, merchandise and FameBit integration. Their third action, Wojcicki explained, is to continue initiatives that encourage conversation between audiences and creators, like its Premiere feature, Community tab and Stories.

Brand safety extends to creators, as outlined in YouTube’s fourth initiative. Policy changes like the newly-introduced Copyright Match Tool will help protect creators against fraudsters trying to steal their thunder and YouTube will crack down on those who violate site guidelines. The last initiative for 2018 is to continue educating its creators. Wojcicki announced a new initiative, YouTube Learning, which includes grants and promotions to support education focused creator content, expert organizations and learners.


WeChat Pay Continues US Expansion Efforts

Despite the current trade tariff, Tencent’s massively popular WeChat app will expand its efforts in the US, the company told CNBC. Tencent is focusing on partnerships with large global merchants that prove popular with Chinese tourists but Yin Jie, director of cross-border operation at WeChat Pay says their efforts will expand even further.

“The first step we will choose some merchants which Chinese tourists like, just like some outlets and duty-free, some famous restaurants, and maybe the next step we will try and find some smaller merchants, just like a supermarket, some convenience stores, some transportation [services] like taxis,” Jie said. “We will choose the big merchants that Chinese tourists like, then, when it has showcased, we will try to expand it to small merchants,”


Reddit Chat Rooms Are Catching On And Not As Toxic As You’d Expect

A year ago, Reddit began testing subreddit chat rooms that could be added to a specific topic page at the request of the community. Not only has the beta been a success, but Reddit product designer ityoclys was surprised at how positive this notoriously quirky community reacted.

“The nature of real-time, direct chat seems to be especially disarming,” wrote ityoclys in a blog post. “Even when people initially lash out in frustration or to troll, I found that if you talk to them and show them you’re a regular human like them, they almost always chill out.”

Ityoclys says he personally chatted with over 7,000 users in the beta, gathered valuable feedback and fell for the “Updog” gag a few too many times.


Facebook, Instagram Crack Down On Under-Age Users

Facebook and Instagram moderators have been instructed to lock all accounts that appear to belong to users under the age of 13, TechCrunch reported. Unlike Facebook Messenger Kids which is targeted to young children, Instagram and Facebook stipulate that users must be 13 or older at the time of registration. Neither site requires proof of age during sign-up, however.

The proactive stance was announced following a TV documentary that aired Tuesday in the UK called “Inside Facebook: Secrets of a Social Network.” An undercover reporter was given the role of Facebook content reviewer through a third-party company. The reporter was told to ignore users that appeared underage, as well as English far-right political pages that generated a lot of views despite violating site policies.


WhatsApp Adds Additional Restrictions To Forwarded Messages

In an effort to curb the viral spread of misinformation, WhatsApp began labeling forwarded messages last week and on Thursday, WhatsApp started testing a limit of five chats at once for Indian users. The app also removed the “quick forward” button next to media messages, hoping that users will slow down and think about the information they are reading.


Instagram Labels Users As Active To Encourage DMs

On Thursday, Instagram rolled out an activity status option that will let others know when you’re in the app. A green dot will appear next to users that are online, allowing friends and contacts to initiate conversations in real-time. Instagram placed an emphasis on direct messages in the announcement, saying, “DMing friends and connecting over the content you love is more fun when you know your friends are there to see it.”


New LinkedIn Features Captions, Quote Options, Translation And More

LinkedIn introduced new tools across desktop and mobile on Wednesday, designed to spark conversations or make understanding them easier. For those posting videos from a desktop computer, closed captioning allows users to add text—making videos accessible to the hearing impaired and easier to watch with the sound off.

Quoting an article on mobile devices has been made easier, thanks to a tool that prompts “share to LinkedIn” when text has been highlighted. The process cuts several steps out of a simple cut and paste and makes posts more enticing by adding a preview.

Perfectionists and multitaskers will be glad to know they can save a draft of their posts and return to them later. In addition, a shortcut to previously shared articles and videos has been added to desktop. Users can access them by selecting the “Me” tab, then “Manage posts and activity.”

Staying in touch with global contacts often comes with a language barrier, so a new “see translation” option has been added to updates shared in anything other than a user’s native language.

On Thursday, LinkedIn rolled out even more upgrades, including the ability to add attachments to chat messages, stretch the compose box for longer messages, send emojis from the desktop site and create group messages.


Facebook Vows To Remove Fake News Designed to Incite Violence

Propaganda, fake news, misinformation or foreign meddling: whatever you want to call it, the practice is alive and well on Facebook and WhatsApp. While Mark Zuckerberg has said it will not remove fake news outright, they will begin doing so if messages are believed to incite, encourage or exasperate physical harm to others.

“Reducing the distribution of misinformation—rather than removing it outright—strikes the right balance between free expression and a safe and authentic community,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. “There are certain forms of misinformation that have contributed to physical harm, and we are making a policy change which will enable us to take that type of content down. We will begin implementing the policy during the coming months.”


Snapchat Adds Nielsen-Driven Advertisement Targeting

Advertisers on Snapchat can now buy inventory through the Nielsen Marketing Cloud, the company announced on Wednesday. The integration will allow marketers to hone in on specific consumer audiences using Nielsen Audience Segments to explore consumer characteristics, including demographics, buying behavior and mobile behavior. Existing Nielsen Marketing Cloud Data Management Platform (DMP) clients will be able to take advantage of their first-party data segments and target them directly on Snapchat’s platform.


Instagram Tests Ability To Discretely Remove Followers

Users with public accounts on Instagram don’t have a lot of control over who sees their posts, but the company is testing a way to change that. As confirmed by The Verge, Certain Android users have noticed a new option to remove a follower without letting that user know. Otherwise known as a “soft block,” this feature would allow someone to remove a follower discretely without the awkward notification of being officially blocked. The feature does not prevent someone from following a user again, but it offers a less-confrontational way of keeping someone (albeit temporarily) out of the loop.

Instagram’s test pairs nicely with the equally discrete “mute” option rolled out in May.


Twitter Prepares For Elections, Puts Verification Fix On Hold

As the US mid-term elections loom closer, Twitter is working on all cylinders to prevent the spread of false information. Twitter’s product lead Kayvon Beykpour announced that in order to concentrate on “information quality,” the company will put off addressing its verification issues until a later date. The coveted blue checkmark next to a user’s name is meant to verify that tweets are coming from a real person but is apparently viewed by many to be an endorsement, as well. Twitter is working to clarify the purpose of verification to avoid confusion but in the meantime, maintains the right to revoke verification for users violating the rules.

Fake accounts are part of the misinformation problem on social media, prompting Twitter to suspend 70 million accounts in May and June.


Bloomberg Converts Twitter Data Into Market Preview

Twitter has expanded its partnership with Bloomberg, launching a real-time feed of curated data to help traders observe company trends as they happen. Bloomberg has been integrating Tweets into its strategy in 2013. The new feed will allow traders to gather personalized information by assigning relevant topic tags, company extraction and mapping, people extraction, company level sentiment and journalistic oversight of handle verification.

“Twitter also continues to be the service of choice for influential financial professionals to broadcast market-moving views,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Yet, the financial industry struggles with the sheer volume of Twitter content, which can create a lag in market reaction and introduce unnecessary risks when making trading decisions.”


Journalists’ Latest News Source: Snapchat Posts

Snapchat has revealed a new partnership initiative that will let reporters and publishers use the app as a way to verify breaking news. According to Axios, organizations with subscriptions to NewsWhip, Storyful, SAM Desk and TagBoard will now have full access to all publicly-available Snaps, the same way they have access to publicly-available Facebook and Twitter data through those vendors.

This data will be provided at no charge by Snap, in order to encourage using its app as a resource. Citing posts on Snapchat could help attract new users or at the very least, give its users credibility for sharing photos and video of news as it happens.

“The geography data from Snapchat is really trustworthy compared to other platforms, and it can be very targeted, which makes the content compliment text-based journalism on Twitter really well,” James Neufeld, CEO and founder of SAM Desk told Axios. “Using our AI, journalists can combine the two sets of data to find facts and break news that much faster.”


Don’t Forget Gen X, Says Pinterest

Gen X may not be as buzzworthy as millennials in terms of marketing, but this oft-ignored generation has 75 percent more spending power than their offspring. In a blog post, Pinterest reminded brands that while the coveted millennial audience had an average household net worth of $90,000 in 2016, Gen X had $130,000. Pinterest also says it reaches one in two people in this generation.

To reach Gen X consumers on Pinterest, the company suggests paying attention to the home, travel and beauty categories. Gen X-ers, especially those between the ages of 45-54, named Pinterest as their go-to destination for home decoration ideas, according to a joint study with db5. This generation also tends to be the primary decision-maker in terms of travel destinations and likes to try new beauty regimens, with 78 percent interested in learning about new beauty products.


Twitch Streams Get Animated With Giphy Extension

Broadcasters on Twitch can now activate an extension that inserts animated GIFs into a livestream from Giphy’s search engine. The feature works much as it does on other platforms such as Twitter or Slack in that viewers enter a search term that brings up GIF suggestions. The difference is, a selected GIF will appear over the stream instead of in the comments, allowing creators to interact with their viewers in real time.

Giphy has become the go-to destination for animated GIFs, serving 5 billion of them per day. Twitch, meanwhile, is wooing new partnerships left and right with its interactive format that extends beyond video games.

The Washington Post recently launched a channel on Twitch in an attempt to engage more viewers. The publication’s ad revenue has dropped four percent in the first half of 2018, according to Standard Media Index, while Amazon-owned Twitch advertising revenue is up a whopping 54 percent.


Facebook Ads Manager App Gets Creative

New tools added to Facebook’s Ads Manager app allow marketers to edit and manage their campaigns directly from a mobile device. A new suite of creative tools makes adding images similar to posting a social media update, adding the ability to crop and adjust things like color filters or text. Other tools include templates, shapes, stickers and logos and the ability to check text against Facebook’s advertising policies.


Instagram Remains Top Choice For Influencer Marketing

Throughout the world, internet users follow online personalities for inspiration and entertainment, creating opportunities for marketers to reach a wide audience. According to a number of surveys, Instagram is the most popular investment opportunity for brands with the exception of those in China, where the platform is banned.

Online creators in India are keeping an eye on Instagram, with 78 percent calling it a rising platform for influencer marketing—based on a survey by marketing agency Buzzoka. According to a February 2018 survey by Activate, roughly 89 percent of worldwide influencers (most of which were located in the US) said they were using Instagram for influencer marketing campaigns more than they did one year ago.

EMarketer predicts that the number of worldwide Instagram users will reach 714.4 million in 2018, with the highest penetration rate in Sweden.


Facebook Tests Cross-Platform Notifications

Certain Instagram users may have observed notifications that don’t quite belong. In an attempt to draw Instagram users back to Facebook, the parent company has begun testing notifications that alert Instagram users of Facebook friend activity. The test began as early as June, as observed and shared by Instagram user Spencer Chen. There is no word at this time whether Facebook users are receiving Instagram notifications as well or if the test is one-sided.


Over 5 Billion Emoji Are Sent Every Day On Facebook Messenger

Ahead of World Emoji Day on July 17, Facebook released some stats that prove how much its users love to substitute words with pictures. Facebook users post an average of 60 million emoji on timelines, a mere drop in the bucket compared to 5 billion sent each day in Messenger. Across the world, emoji use is as diverse as the people using them. Facebook says there are over 2,800 emoji available, and the large majority of them (2,300) are used every day on the platform.

Global users are spreading the love with these messages, Facebook observed, with the most popular emoji being tears of joy, laughing, smiling, blowing kisses and hearts. In fact, Facebook users are sending the heart emoji twice as much as they did last year.


Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, July 20. 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 [email protected].