This week in social media news, Reddit debuts stronger brand safety controls with tiered ad inventory, ByteDance seeks approval of its partnership with Oracle and Walmart from commerce authorities in Beijing, LinkedIn launches Stories and its first redesign in five years, Twitch sees strong growth during the pandemic, Pinterest launches Story Pins that live forever and more.

Reddit Debuts Stricter Brand Safety Controls With Tiered Ad Inventory

Reddit is rolling out three tiers of inventory for its ad offering together with Oracle Data Cloud’s contextual intelligence, which will provide an added layer of third-party filtering.

Why it matters: Up until now, Reddit offered the same set of inventory to all advertisers with universal brand safety controls.

The details: With Reddit’s new feature, advertisers can choose from three tiers of ad inventory based on their individual campaign goals, brand safety requirements and targeting goals. 

The “limited inventory” tier provides the strictest brand safety measures with more controlled reach, “standard inventory” provides balanced reach and protection to fit the needs of “most advertisers” and “expanded inventory” gives advertisers access to Reddit’s maximum inventory pool and 20 percent more communities for targeting while placing them next to the broadest range of content.

Regardless of the tier, Reddit says ads can only appear in communities on its “hand-curated allow list” and that advertisers will have the choice to enable or disable comments, as well as exclude certain keywords and communities.

Over 30 brands across consumer packaged goods, finance, health, gaming and wellness have tested Reddit’s new inventory types. The feature is available for all Reddit advertisers today.

ByteDance Seeks Approval From Beijing On Deal With Oracle, Walmart

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has submitted its plan to form its US-based company with Oracle and Walmart to commerce authorities in Beijing under recently expanded export regulations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: China’s involvement comes after the country adding data-processing technologies, such as TikTok’s algorithm, to its list of restricted exports in August, putting the fate of TikTok’s proposed new US company, TikTok Global, in the hands of China’s ministries in charge of commerce and science and technology.

The details: Under the tentative agreement to keep TikTok in the US, Oracle and Walmart would have a 20 percent cumulative stake in TikTok Global, with Oracle moving all American data to its Generation 2 Cloud data centers.

China’s state media, however, slammed the deal as “dirty and unfair.”

Gao Feng, a spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry said ByteDance’s application for technology export is being revised by Beijing’s commerce bureau.

LinkedIn Unveils Redesign, Stories Plus New Video Integrations

LinkedIn has announced its first major redesign in five years, which includes a new streamlined search experience, the addition of Stories, video integrations with Zoom and Microsoft Teams and more.

Why it matters: LinkedIn’s community, where three people are hired every second, comprises over 700 million professionals worldwide, chief executive officer Ryan Roslansky said in a company blog post.

The details: LinkedIn’s new design features a new warm color palette and elements that meet accessibility standards and allow for text scaling, bigger touch targets and contrast for readability.

Users can now share moments of their everyday professional lives with LinkedIn Stories, available now in the US and Canada, and globally in the coming weeks.

LinkedIn is also introducing a new feature that lets users initiate a video call directly within messages using Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans by Verizon or Zoom. Other new messaging features include the ability to edit or delete sent messages and react to messages with emojis.

Lastly, search on LinkedIn will show more organized results with jobs, people, courses, groups, events and content in one search result. Plus, LinkedIn has added keyword filters for people—previously only available on the web—to the LinkedIn mobile app, as well as filters for company by location, industry and company size.

Twitch Sees 1.47 Billion Hours Watched In August

According to StreamElements and’s monthly report, State of the Stream August 2020, Twitch experienced its first month-over-month increase since April with 1.47 billion hours watched in August, while Facebook Gaming reached a new milestone with 346 million hours watched in August.

Why it matters: 
Twitch will likely continue to have a leg up on Facebook Gaming, as Amazon just announced its new cloud gaming service called Luna, which costs $5.99 a month and will heavily integrate with Twitch.

The details: Twitch and Facebook Gaming both saw strong year-over-year growth. Twitch is up 57 percent, from 932 million hours in August 2019 to 1.5 billion hours this year. During the same time frame, Facebook Gaming increased 179 percent, from 124 million hours watched to 346 million.  

First on the most-watched category list for August is Just Chatting, which has been on top for four consecutive months, followed by League of Legends, Fall Guys, Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto V. Social party games have also enjoyed newfound success, with Fall Guys receiving 106 million hours watched and Among us experiencing a 650 percent surge month-over-month in hours watched.

Cooking shows on Twitch have also gained traction, with hours watched of Food & Drink increasing 96 percent quarter-over-quarter and 132 percent YoY.

Pinterest Launches Story Pins To Help Creators Grow Their Audience  

Pinterest is rolling out a suite of publishing and measurement tools made for creators including permanent Story Pins in beta, updated creator profiles, the ability to direct message creators and reaction buttons.

Why it matters: Pinterest’s new creator-first tools are part of the platform’s larger ecommerce and influencer marketing efforts that aim to cater to its 400 million monthly active users, 60 percent of which are women. Over the past few months, it has launched a host of shopping tools including a partnership with Shopify, a Shop tab and shopping spotlights with influencers and publishers.

The details: Pinterest’s Story Pins, which can be published directly to Pinterest via the Pinterest camera, will enable creators to post videos with voiceover, image and text overlay. Pinners can like, comment on and save Story Pins to boards for later, plus watch them anytime because they don’t disappear after 24 hours. Pinterest says Story Pins are powered by the “visual discovery engine that matches new ideas to people with relevant interest and tastes.”

Next up, Pinterest is updating creator profiles, which will show a creator’s published content front and center. In addition, Pinners can now message creators via the Contact or Message card, as well as react to their content using new buttons such as “Great idea,” “Love,” “Wow” and “Thanks.”

Pinterest is also adding new analytics tools and an engagement tab, where creators can like or respond to photos on Pins in one place.

Lastly, creators can better understand how their content is performing with Pinterest’s new Pin Stats, which show key metrics like impressions and engagement on the app’s redesigned Analytics dashboard.

Pinterest has given select creators in the US access to Story Pins and will roll the feature out to international creators over the coming months. All other features are live for Pinners with business accounts today.

US Tentatively Approves Oracle, Walmart Deal For TikTok

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has received tentative approval for an agreement with the US government that involves Oracle and Walmart acquiring 20 percent of TikTok’s newly formed company TikTok Global, according to a press release.

Why it matters: The landmark deal came just a day after the US Department of Commerce issued an order that would ban new downloads and software updates to TikTok, making TikTok downloads surge to 202,000 on September 20, according to App Annie data.

The details: As TikTok’s “trusted cloud and technology provider,” Oracle will be responsible for fully securing TikTok users’ data, interim head of TikTok Vanessa Pappas said in a company blog post. If the deal is approved, that means all American data will be moved to Oracle’s Generation 2 Cloud data centers. Pappas added that TikTok will expand the US as TikTok Global’s headquarters, which will create 25,000 jobs in the US.

In a separate press release, Walmart announced that it has tentatively agreed to purchase 7.5 percent of TikTok Global, as well as provide TikTok with its ecommerce, fulfillment, payments and other omnichannel services. In addition, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon would serve as one of five board members of TikTok Global.

The press releases state that TikTok Global will file an initial public offering in the US in less than a year.

Users Call Out Twitter’s Photo Preview For Favoring White Faces Over Black Faces

Twitter chief design officer Dantley Davis says the company is investigating why its algorithm responsible for generating photo previews shows white people’s faces more often than black faces, The Verge reports.

Why it matters: According to The Verge, Twitter’s informal testing of its neural network began after a Twitter user noticed Twitter was favoring his white face over his black colleague’s face during a video meeting. Another user found that Twitter’s preview algorithm favors non-black cartoon characters as well.

The details: As per a blog post from 2018, when Twitter started using the neural network to automatically crop photo previews, Twitter said its facial recognition system had limitations, including mistakenly detecting faces when there were none or focusing the view on the most prominent face it could find.

Instagram To Open Up Messaging To Third Parties

Instagram is creating an API for its messaging service that will help brands manage their DMs with customers, according to Business Insider.

Why it matters: Brands on Instagram currently have three options for managing their conversations with users, including the Instagram app, Instagram desktop and the Facebook-enabled Creator Studio.

The details: The API expansion would enable big brands to access messages from users through third-party services similar to features that already exist in WhatsApp and Messenger.

TikTok Reportedly Discusses CEO Role With Instagram Co-Founder

According to The New York Times, TikTok is searching for a permanent chief executive to replace Kevin Mayer, who resigned in late August, and has been in talks with co-founder and former Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

Why it matters: TikTok recently hired Cheryl Gresham, former global head of integrated media at YouTube, as head of media and partnerships. TikTok’s hiring of Gresham and discussion with Systrom indicate it has plans to continue growing in the US despite the hurdles it must overcome to avoid a ban.

The details: TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigned after three months, citing the evolving political pressures of the role. Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok in North America, has taken over in the interim.

Facebook Publishes Guide On How To Maximize Video Content

Facebook has published a 14-page guide to give video creators adapting to new business challenges practical tips on how to increase content production and maximize video content

Why it matters: Facebook says that since Facebook Live launched, users have created over 8.5 billion broadcasts and Live viewers increased in the US by 50 percent during February and March.

The details: Among the tips in Facebook’s video content guide are going live, reposting evergreen and topical content, bulk uploading back catalog using Creator Studio, organizing content using new playlist and series tools, creating a relevant challenge for fans to participate in and highlighting top stories around specific themes.