This week in social media news, Twitter introduces a video dock feature, Facebook trains AI to interpret locations on the go, Twitter tests ads for the Explore tab, Instagram users “down under” can now apply for the coveted blue check mark and YouTube doesn’t take kindly to Twitch videos.
In other news, Twitter cracks down on inactive accounts, Facebook News programs prepare for launch, Pinterest Groups get collaborative and YouTube fights copycats posters. Facebook tests ads you can try on and warns of fake news, Snapchat showcases user-generated AR and partners with Amazon, Instagram users ask more questions, YouTube lets some users browse in private and the company invests a whole lot of money in digital literacy. Also, Whatsapp warns users of suspicious links and Instagram continues its “Time Well Spent” mission statement with new features.
Twitter Rolls Out Video Docking Tool For Android
Android Twitter users can now dock a video anywhere on their screen while they scroll through a feed, the company announced this week. The feature is similar to Facebook and many news sites that automatically move the video to the side when a user scrolls down the page. Twitter’s tool allows the user to move and place the video instead of doing it automatically. A tool for iOS will be released sometime in the near future.
Now if you're watching a video on Twitter you'll be able to dock it, so you can keep enjoying your timeline at the same time!
If you're on Android, try it out and let us know what you think! We'll be rolling out this update on iOS soon. pic.twitter.com/rnOqds3YL7
— Twitter Video (@TwitterVideo) July 11, 2018
Facebook Project Trains AI To Work Together
Anyone who has learned a language knows that memorizing vocabulary words does little to prepare you for visiting an actual city covered in signage. It can be overwhelming for anyone trying to navigate a new place. The same is true for machine learning, so Facebook created a project called “Talk the Walk” to train AI in such an environment.
Facebook’s research team created an AI “tourist” and gave it access to 360-degree pictures of locations around New York. An AI “guide” had access to an overhead 2D map with generic descriptions such as “restaurant” and “hotel.” Neither bot could share its view with the other.
The tourist bot described its location to the guide bot, which predicted the tourist bot’s location on its map. The result was 87.08 percent accuracy on a full navigation task, compared to 76.7 percent accuracy from human annotators.
“To be truly effective at interacting with humans, future AI systems will understand text that’s embedded in messy visual environments and language that doesn’t line up with a limited, predetermined list of phrases,” Facebook wrote alongside its findings.
Twitter Tests ‘Promoted Trend Spotlight’ Ads
Marketers may soon be able to place ads above Twitter’s trending topics section, TechCrunch reported. The ads would consist of large banners equipped with an animated GIF or image displayed at the top of the Explore Tab. The ads would appear for the first two times a user visits the tab that day, then resume with the normal layout. Promoted Trend Spotlight ads will be purchased as an add-on to the existing Promoted Trends and are currently being tested with Walt Disney’s Christopher Robin.
Australian Instagram Users Can Now Apply To Get Verified
The coveted “blue checkmark” on social media labels an influential person’s account so that it can be differentiated from impersonators. It’s usually reserved for celebrities, but some Instagram users in Australia are now able to apply for one. As spotted by InfluencerUpdate.biz, Australians with the iOS version of Instagram are currently the only ones in the world who can apply to be verified after supplying proof of identity.
YouTube Cracks Down On Videos Directing Viewers Elsewhere
Creators on YouTube have reported temporary channel deletions for promoting their Twitch streams, Engadget reports. YouTube policies forbid users from publishing content designed purely to direct viewers away from the site and Twitch partners have similar restrictions. However, YouTube creators like Surny and Linus Tech Tips have reported sudden unprompted enforcement that includes channel deletion instead of a warning. The purpose of the offending videos, these creators admitted, was to tell subscribers that they had begun streaming live on Twitch.
The move comes as competition heats up between social media video sites and YouTube is taking steps to prevent any loss of viewership it can. Creators claim that the rule against redirecting traffic through video posts has been in place for a long time, but until recently was not enforced.
Twitter Removes Locked Accounts From Follower Count
Follower counts may decrease this week, Twitter warns, as locked accounts will be systematically removed from the profile statistic. Follower counts will no longer count profiles which have been locked and untouched for more than a month in an attempt to increase transparency and prevent inaccurate data. Removing locked accounts from followers doesn’t impact MAU or DAU, Twitter said but it could have the potential to impact publicly reported metrics.
Although Twitter did not specify a reason for this sudden action, it is most likely a direct response to statements made by Unilever’s Keith Weed during Cannes Lions. Unilever—which spends $7 billion in advertising—will no longer invest in influencers that buy followers, Weed said. In addition, the company will prioritize partners who increase their transparency and work to eradicate nefarious practices throughout the digital ecosystem.
If Twitter was trying to get Weed’s attention, it succeeded.
Pleased to see @twitter taking a big stand against the fake followers polluting the digital ecosystem. Great step forward which strengthens the industry – I hope to see more following. https://t.co/EdQIoaI7n7
— Keith Weed (@keithweed) July 11, 2018
Facebook’s Funded News Shows Will Debut July 16
The first round of funded news programming is slated to go live on Facebook Watch next week and includes shows from ABC News, Advance Local, ATTN:, CNN, Fox News, Mic, Quartz, and Univision. Users will be offered custom recommendations based on who they watch and what their friends are viewing. Programs can also be accessed directly from the publisher’s page.
News programs on Facebook will allow users to interact with broadcasters in real-time. Anderson Cooper’s first show for Facebook Watch on July 16, for example, stream live from Helsinki for the US-Russia summit. The show will include live polls and Cooper will personally respond to questions posted in the comments.
Pinterest Adds Collaboration Tools To Group Boards
Activity feeds have been added to Group Boards on Pinterest, the company announced on Wednesday. Group members can now like, comment and be notified when someone joins the group, adds a new Pin, adds a new section etc. Pinterest says the feature is in response to requests from its users that collaborate with family and friends to plan events or projects.
Pinterest has become a popular hub for searches related to holidays and yearly traditions such as back-to-school. Pinterest says that 47 million people search for back-to-school ideas on its network last year.
YouTube ‘Copyright Match’ Tool Fights Re-Uploads
There are few things more frustrating on YouTube than having one’s hard work copied and uploaded to someone else’s account. For the past year, YouTube has been testing a new tool called Copyright Match that will automatically detect these offenses and allow creators to have them removed. When a user uploads a video, YouTube will verify it as the first iteration. Any subsequent videos posted that are detected as very similar will be flagged and the original creator will be notified. From there, the creator can reach out to the other YouTube user, do nothing or request that YouTube remove the video.
Copyright Match tools are scheduled to launch next week for creators with over 100,000 followers.
Facebook AR Ads Let Users Try On Products
During a special event in New York on Tuesday, Facebook revealed new marketing options being tested for the News Feed. Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vice president of product marketing for Facebook’s global marketing solutions demonstrated AR ads that let users try on products such as sunglasses and makeup. As reported by TechCrunch, the ads will appear as normal images with a “tap to try it on” that opens the AR camera. The first brand to test the new feature is Michael Kors with other brands planning their own tests in the near future, including Sephora, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and King.
Ads will not be limited to makeup and accessories. For example, a demonstration for King superimposed Ahmad-Taylor’s face into Candy Crush gameplay.
Snapchat Lens Explorer Showcases User-Generated AR
Speaking of AR, Snapchat unveiled Lens Explorer on Tuesday—a carousel that allows users to browse and unlock thousands of Lenses, as well as Stories that have featured them. The feature is available for iOS devices only at launch. No sponsored Lenses are included for the time being.
The company says that since Lens Studio was launched, over 100,000 unique Lenses which have been viewed by Snapchatters over 2.5 billion times.
Instagram Adds Question Sticker To Stories
As spotted last week, Instagram has officially launched its “question sticker.” The feature allows users to ask an open-ended question or invite others to do the same. The answers can be answered by anyone that views the Story but can be viewed only by the one that posted the question sticker. Story posters can, however, share the replies which appear with a username.
YouTube Rolls Out ‘Incognito Mode’ To Android Users
Want to watch those tiny cooking shows without your wife knowing? Well, Android users can do so in (kind of) secret with incognito mode, now available on Android devices. Much like its desktop counterpart, the mode does not log browser histories onto the device itself but comes with a disclaimer about not being completely invisible from networks or service providers.
Snapchat Code Reveals Amazon Visual Search Feature
An eagle-eyed app researcher has discovered a hidden feature in Snapchat’s Android code, aptly codenamed “Eagle.” The feature, reported by TechCrunch, is called Visual Search and directs users to “Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more! This works by sending data to Amazon, Shazam, and other partners.” Once an object or barcode has been scanned, users will be able to see all the results on Amazon.
A partnership with Amazon isn’t a surprising one, as it is the only other place where users can purchase Snapchat’s recording Spectacles.
WhatsApp Tests Suspicious Link Detection; Labels Forwarded Messages
According to WABetaInfo, a new feature called Suspicious Link Detection has been added to beta version 2.18.204 that analyzes and labels outgoing links that may redirect to a fake or website other than what is represented.
WhatsApp has been under pressure from Indian authorities lately for a slew of killings that allegedly originated from hoax messages sent on the app. Much like the “Pizzagate” incident in 2016, Indian residents reacted violently to claims that people in their area were abducting children or harvesting organs. This week, Facebook has taken out full-page advertisements in several Indian newspapers that offer 10 tips for spotting fake news.
Facebook’s encrypted messaging app is favored worldwide for its privacy, but that same feature makes it difficult to police the spread of misinformation. Last week, Facebook announced that researchers could earn $50,000 for proposals related to “detection of problematic behavior within encrypted systems,” among other topics.
Beginning on Tuesday, any messages forwarded and not generated by the sender will be labeled, the company announced, saying, “WhatsApp cares deeply about your safety. We encourage you to think before sharing messages that were forwarded.”
YouTube Invests $25M For Journalism Content; Digital Literacy
In a blog post on Monday, YouTube said it is building a “working group” with news organizations and experts from around the world to help develop new product features and improve the news experience on its platform. Early partners in the program include Vox Media, Jovem Plan and India Today. YouTube will accept applications from news organizations from approximately 20 global markets. Those selected will receive funding from YouTube to build sustainable video operations.
YouTube will also begin sharing snippets of text articles in the event of a breaking news story so users can get news as it develops (and while videos are being produced). The site has also begun testing features that surface local news in the YouTube app for TV screens across 25 media markets around the US.
Fake news and propaganda spread with the help of “digital illiteracy,” that is, the inability to tell the difference between what is real vs. fake and biassed vs. not. YouTube has partnered with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, Local Media Association and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) to support MediaWise, a US-based initiative designed to equip 1 million teens with digital literacy skills. The program will feature six YouTube Creators to help educate teens online.
Instagram Encourages Taking A Break
Endless scrolling down Instagram’s news feed to see if you missed anything may become a thing of the past. Instagram has added a notification called “You’re All Caught Up” that lets users know if they’ve seen everything posted within the last 48 hours.
In addition, Instagram is also testing a “Do Not Disturb” feature that lets users shut off notifications from Instagram and WhatsApp for 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, eight hours, one day or until they’re turned back on manually. The yet-to-be-formally-announced feature was spotted by social media consultant Matt Nevarro and reported by TechCrunch.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, July 13. 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.