This week in social media news, TikTok is the top grossing non-game app worldwide for April and announces an educational initiative called #LearnOnTikTok, Facebook rolls Instagram introduces new creator monetization tools including Live badges and IGTV ads; Facebook launches two new apps, Collab and CatchUp; WhatsApp tests QR codes; and Twitter adds fact check notifications to two misleading tweets about the mail-in ballot process from President Trump.

TikTok Sees 10-Fold Spike In User Spending To $78 Million In April

TikTok was the top-grossing non-game app worldwide in April, with more than $78 million in user spending, a 10-fold growth from April 2019, according to Sensor Tower.

Why it matters: TikTok’s strong in-app spending comes after it surpassed 2 billion downloads at the end of April and the hiring of Kevin Mayer as its new CEO.

The details: Sensor Tower found that 86.6 percent of TikTok’s revenue was from China, followed by 8.2 percent from the US. YouTube was the second highest earning non-game app worldwide, with about $76 million in gross revenue, a 57 percent year over year growth from April 2019. A little over half (56.4 percent) of YouTube’s revenue was from the US, followed by nearly 11 percent from Japan. The next top grossing apps were Tinder, followed by Disney+ and Tencent Video.

Facebook Rolls Out New Augmented Reality Tools For Creators

Facebook has introduced new augmented reality tools to its Spark AR Studio including Instagram effects that respond, move and play in sync with music plus a TikTok-like green screen feature called Gallery Picker.

Why it matters: At a time when Stories engagement is surging right now, Facebook’s new AR capabilities for Instagram could attract new users.

The details: In addition to new Instagram effects that respond to music, the Spark AR Studio is enabling creators to build AR effects which make content captured via the Instagram camera, or within their camera roll, more immersive.

As per Facebook, its new Gallery Picker tool, “lets creators publish AR effects to Instagram that people can then personalize with their own images, enabling green screen-style effects. With this new capability, people can transport themselves into any environment and place they want.”

Additionally, Facebook rolled out new templates for 2D and 3D stickers to help creators build AR effects more easily.

TikTok Launches #LearnOnTikTok With Over 800 Partners

TikTok announced that it’s partnering with over 800 public figures, media publishers, educational institutions and professional experts to launch a program called #LearnOnTikTok.

Why it matters: Last month, TikTok announced a $50 million Creative Learning Fund, which supports creators with the production of educational content, provides resources for students and introduces emerging teachers on TikTok.

The details: #LearnOnTikTok experts like Bill Nye, José Andrés, Lilly Singh, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Tyra Banks. Organizations like the Aquarium of the Pacific and media publishers like WWD and SELF have also created educational content that offers instructional tips and takeaways. 

TikTok says it’s also building a creator learning portal that will, “provide insights, tools, and best practices on how to create quality content on TikTok.”

President Trump To Sign Order That Mandates Review Of Law Protecting Social Media Platforms

President Trump is set to sign an executive order that mandates a review of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media platforms from lawsuits over what users share.

Why it matters: The move follows Trump’s run-in with Twitter last week, when for the first time, the platform added a fact-check marker to two of the president’s tweets about the mail-in ballot process.

The details: Trump’s request would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to determine whether social media companies like Twitter and Facebook should lose the Section 230 protections they enjoy under the Communications Decency Act, and whether any social media company uses deceptive content moderation policies.

Instagram Introduces New Tools To Help Influencers Make Money

Instagram has rolled out two new tools to help creators monetize their content including badges on Instagram Live and ads on IGTV.

Why it matters: Instagram is likely looking to help influencers whose livelihoods, due to canceled brand deals, have been affected by COVID. From February to March, Instagram reports a 70 percent increase in views on Live, indicating influencers and brands alike have ramped up efforts there.

The details: The first new tool includes badges that followers can purchase during a live video; the badge will appear next to the user’s name through the live video. The purchaser will then be placed on a creator’s list of badge holders, with access to a “special heart.” A select group of creators can test badges next month.

The second part of Instagram’s announcement includes sharing ad revenue with influencers by way of IGTV ads. Built for mobile and up to 15 seconds long, the ads will appear when users click to watch IGTV videos from previews in their feed. Instagram has plans to test various versions of IGTV ads including skippable ones. Instagram says it will test the ads with a small group of influencers and advertisers in the US.

Facebook Expands Post Creation Tools To Creator Studio Mobile App

Facebook is adding more capabilities to its mobile Creator Studio app, allowing creators to manage content on the go.

Why it matters: Facebook could be bracing for increased mobile usage as some parts of the US slowly reopen amid the pandemic.

The details: Up until now, creators could track content insights, edit video titles and descriptions, respond to messages and manage multiple pages from the same app and session. Now, users of the Creator Studio mobile app have access to more features for video posts, like uploading a thumbnail from their mobile phone and filling in video metadata fields plus the ability to publish and schedule Facebook posts within the app.

Facebook Rolls Out New Video Features For Work Groups And Workplace

Facebook is introducing new video features to its Workplace platform and Work Groups, a type of Facebook Group that helps users connect with their coworkers. In addition, it’s releasing Oculus for Business to “meet early demand for VR-powered training and collaboration.”

Why it matters: Facebook’s Workplace has 5 million paid users and Work Groups has over 20 million monthly active users just after six months, Facebook reports.

The details: With Workplace Rooms, workers can meet with unlimited time and invite up to 50 people even if others aren’t in their company or don’t have a Workplace account. The rooms can be locked or kept open, and hosts can remove participants. For security, a new link is generated each time someone creates a room.

In addition to new ways to hold virtual meetings, Facebook has introduced Live Producer, a new way to go live on Workplace via desktop with features such as automatic captions in various languages, which Workplace will translate.

Additionally, Facebook is bringing Portal’s artificial intelligence-powered Smart Camera and Smart Sound to Workplace Live to enhance broadcasting. Starting next month, Workplace users can also use Portal TV for Workplace calls and videos.

To make it easier for companies to improve business results via virtual reality, Facebook is widely releasing Oculus for Business, which is built on Workplace.

Facebook Launches Collaborative Music Video App Called “Collab”

Facebook’s internal New Product Experimentation (NPE) team has created a new app called Collab which enables people to either record music videos or swipe to discover videos that they can mix and match to build a “collab.”

Why it matters: Facebook says it’s been working on Collab for months but launched early in light of the pandemic, as its motto suggests: “Make music together, while we’re apart.” 

The details: Unlike TikTok and Triller, Collab is intended for creating original music videos. Collabs are capped at 15 seconds and can be published for others to watch in the app’s feed or to use in future collabs. Collabs can also be published to other social media platforms like Facebook Stories and Instagram. Facebook has released Collab as an invite-only beta.

Facebook Launches A New App Called CatchUp

Facebook’s NPE team launched a new app called CatchUp, which shows users who are available to connect via one-on-one or group audio chat.

Why it matters: CatchUp marks the sixth app from Facebook’s experiential NPE team. The only difference between CatchUp and Messenger is that CatchUp shows when users are available for audio chat, a functionality that could be useful in areas where connectivity is limited.

The details: Facebook is testing CatchUp in the US on iOS and Android.

WhatsApp Tests QR Codes 

WhatsApp announced that it’s testing QR codes to streamline new connections between users.

Why it matters: WhatsApp has seen a spike in usage during COVID, perhaps giving Facebook an incentive to introduce QR codes, something it launched for Facebook pages in 2018.

The details: Users can either share their QR code or scan others’ QR codes. Sharing your QR code means sharing your WhatsApp contact info, and if you accidentally share your QR code with the wrong person, you can revoke it immediately.

Twitter Adds Fact Check Notifications To President Trump’s Tweets

For the first time, Twitter added fact-check notifications beneath two tweets from President Trump regarding the mail-in ballot process.

Why it matters: Twitter’s move against misinformation comes after Trump perpetuated conspiracy theories about the death of Joe Scarborough’s intern. In response, Twitter said it was working on expanding existing product features to address misinformation.

The details: The fact-check notifications under Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots state, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” next to an exclamation mark icon. Upon clicking the notification, users are directed to a Twitter Moment which outlines accurate information about mail-in ballots. In response, President Trump tweeted: “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”