This week in social media news, YouTube adds a Stories feature, Facebook agrees not to label news as political ads and tests local alerts, LinkedIn rolls out new share options and Instagram uses technology to help the visually impaired.

Also, YouTube offers student discounts and scales back on original content while Snapchat launches Discover in India. Facebook requests Watch shows for older audiences, YouTube rolls out free movies, Snap keeps an eye on the folding screen trend, a new report says retailers can expect a whole lot more social engagement this holiday, LinkedIn gets in trouble for data practices and consumers are spending a lot of money for that perfect Instagram photo.

YouTube Introduces Stories Feature

YouTube’s Snapchat-like feature is now available to users with 10,000 subscribers or more.

Why it matters: The disappearing Stories feature has taken off across multiple social networks with Facebook, Instagram and even LinkedIn getting in on the action. By allowing (slightly) smaller creator channels to access the feature, YouTube has created an opportunity for more engagement.

Details: YouTube Stories allow creators to share a temporary post that appears at the top of a subscriber’s feed. The post disappears after a week but before then, users can respond with videos or photos of their own.

Publishers Now Exempt From Facebook Political Ad Disclosure Rules

News outlets won’t be included in Facebook’s ad transparency archive alongside political advertisements, although they will still need to prove their identities.

Why it matters: Facebook revealed its transparency archive this summer in an attempt to keep readers informed and aware of where such content comes from. News outlets that promoted articles related to political or hot-button topics were also included in the initiative, raising concerns that propaganda would be lumped together with the news.

Details: Following a letter of protest from the News Media Alliance, Facebook is exempting members of the press from its political labeling rule. The change begins in the UK and will roll out to the US next year. The reason for the wait is so that Facebook can verify the identity and reputation of these news outlets prior to individual approval.

Instagram Uses Object Recognition To Aid Visually Impaired

Instagram is using AI and upload options that better describe images for those with visual impairments.

Why it matters: As an image sharing platform, Instagram wants to reach the world’s 285 million people who are visually impaired.

Details: When you upload an image to Instagram, you now have the option to add alternative text descriptions. This allows the system to better explain images to those who cannot see them clearly or at all. In addition, the site is using image recognition technology to automatically add descriptions whenever possible.

LinkedIn Adds New Sharing Options

Users on LinkedIn can have better control over who sees their posts, thanks to a share box rolling out this week.

Why it matters: The new sharing options are similar to that of Facebook in that users can share to multiple groups, followers and/or social media. The option is part of an ongoing effort by LinkedIn to encourage more professional connections.

Details: LinkedIn is rolling out a new sharing dialogue box that makes it easier to select who sees your posts. For example, if you are hiring, you might want to share to a specific group only. Likewise, sharing an interesting article may be appropriate for public viewing and social media.

Facebook Tests Local News/Alert Section

Facebook’s “Today In” section has been expanded and the company is testing other local alerts for emergencies as well as time-sensitive information relative to the community.

Why it matters: After launching its Today In section earlier this year, Facebook ran a test to see how it was being used. They found that half of its users wanted more local news on the platform. With so many people spending time on Facebook each day, it can be difficult to reach them on traditional channels like the radio or TV. Should the test be successful, users will also be alerted by local governments, first responders and community officials when necessary.

Details: Today In has been expanded to more areas and users can check availability with an interactive map. Facebook is also running a test with over 100 local government and first responder Pages to help them communicate time-sensitive and need-to-know information to users.

YouTube Shifts Focus From Originals To Ad-Supported Video

YouTube plans to scale back its scripted output beginning in 2020, a source told The Hollywood Reporter, focusing instead on ad-supported efforts.

Why it matters: YouTube launched its premium subscription tier just a few years ago, but since then, Facebook launched Watch and Instagram introduced IGTV. Original content is expensive, and the Google-owned site hasn’t been able to compete with Amazon or Netflix financially.

Details: Sources say that for budgetary reasons, YouTube will scale back on its scripted content and make all Originals free beginning in 2020.

YouTube Offers Student Discounts For Music, Premium Services

Social media users headed back to school can take advantage of discounts on YouTube Music and YouTube Premium.

Why it matters: Since YouTube Music and YouTube Premium are both ad-free, this offer removes that coveted young demographic from marketers. This also indicates a move from Google to keep those students’ income to themselves, but will a discounted rate justify any lost ad revenue?

Details: YouTube introduced student plans for its paid subscription services on Wednesday, just in time for the winter semester. YouTube Music Premium subscriptions can be purchased for $4.99/mo. and YouTube Premium for $6.99/mo. Students who sign up by January 31 can lock in YouTube Premium at a special rate of $5.99/mo.

Snapchat Launches Discover In India

Indian Snapchatters can now view 10 local Discover channels for the first time.

Why it matters: This is the first time Snapchat will offer local publisher content in India, which creates opportunities for both local and international advertisers.

Details: Snapchat has introduced a Discover channel in India with 10 publishing partners: Brut. India, HuffPost India, The Logical Indian, The Quint, and VICE India, featuring signature editions from each; social video and entertainment from content creators such as Pocket Aces, TVF and QYOU (The Q India).

Facebook Watch Courts Older Viewers

Facebook is encouraging publishers to create video content that appeals to audiences aged 30 and above, as teenagers are losing interest in the social network.

Why it matters: Facebook has invested over $1 billion in its new Watch section, but the site is losing teenage viewers. According to eMarketer, users 55+  will become the second-biggest demographic on Facebook this year and only 36 percent of teens used the network at least once a month this fall, per Piper Jaffrey.

Details: Hip, young influencers just aren’t enough to attract Facebook’s audience which has begun to skew older. As CNBC reports, Facebook is pitching publishers on content that is aimed either at older audiences or that could appeal to them with adult themes. The company is also seeking more formats that may be similar to traditional TV such as talk shows and reality genres.

YouTube Adds Free Movie Section

Ad-supported “Free to Watch” movies are now available on YouTube’s desktop and mobile applications.

Why it matters: Full-length films allow YouTube to reach a cord-cutting audience that may not want to subscribe to a paid service but don’t mind seeing the occasional ad. At the same time, advertisers have the opportunity to reach these same audiences through the usual static, pre- and mid-roll ads options.

Details: YouTube has introduced a selection of free movies that include The Terminator and Rocky. The movies are full-length with a few advertising introductions but could prove less intrusive than what you might find on other free VOD services. Adding these films to YouTube also directly combats copyright-infringing uploads by providing a free alternative.

Snapchat On Foldable Phones: “We’re Watching The Space Very Closely”

Snapchat isn’t opposed to hosting content on a horizontal format and is keeping an eye on foldable mobile screens.

Why it matters: Snap is known for popularizing the vertical video format, so it’s interesting to know that horizontal isn’t out of the question. The company offers tools and tutorials for brands to create vertical ads. While Samsung’s $2,500 foldable phone is unlikely to change the industry overnight, Snap is keeping a watchful eye for future developments.

Details: While in Dubai, Rami Saad, head of international content partnerships at Snap said that they are very interested in the future state of phones, particularly those that fold. “We are watching the space very closely,” he said. “We are really excited about how vertical format is taking off. This is our core business, regardless of what the device is.”

Report: Retailers Can Expect More Social Messages This Holiday

Sprout Social predicts that retailers will receive an average 32 percent more social messages per day this holiday season than they did in 2017.

Why it matters: Based on the message volume last year and what has been observed so far in 2018, Sprout Social found that all retailers with an online presence could find themselves fielding more requests on social media. While Facebook is expected to lead in terms of volume, Instagram is growing significantly in terms of consumer engagement.

Details: Sprout Social analyzed more than 2.9 billion messages across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find out how retailers fared in previous holiday shopping seasons and what brands can expect for 2018. Based on social media behavior compared to last year, retailers will see 75 percent more messages per day this November and December than what they’ve seen so far in January through October 2018.

LinkedIn Found In Violation Of Ireland Data Protection Rules

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner reported the findings of an investigation. LinkedIn was found to have used 18 million email addresses in a way that was not transparent.

Why it matters: Facebook isn’t the only one getting flack for its questionable data practices. Even Microsoft’s LinkedIn is being held accountable in Europe for its use of non-member email addresses. Although LinkedIn has since ended the practice, Europe is keeping the social giants in check to make sure data collection is above board.

Details: LinkedIn used 18 million email addresses of non-members to target them on Facebook. These addresses were most likely collected when members granted access to their email contact lists. While this is a helpful practice for building a network online, the owners of these email addresses did not grant permission.

Consumers Are Spending More For The Perfect Instagram Shot

Instagram users are a bit obsessed over getting that perfect photo, impacting the entire economy from travel to retail.

Why it matters: Social media has been found to cause, or at the very least, attribute to, depression as users compare themselves to one another. This has resulted in a phenomenon called “Snapchat dysmorphia,” in which consumers seek plastic surgery to achieve the look they see online. The “travel brag” is another trend that has positively impacted the hospitality and travel industries. For this reason, brands like Royal Caribbean have launched apps designed for social sharing.

Details: According to a recent Chase Slate survey, 77 percent of millennials made purchases that they would then Instagram, including food, vacations and clothing, and were willing to spend $137 to achieve the perfect post, compared to $70 spent by the general population.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Wednesday, November 30. 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