This week in social media news, Facebook commits to diversity, stops trending posts and its users appear remarkably unconcerned about recent privacy scandals.
In other news, Pinterest is offering full-screen video ads, Twitter started deleting underage accounts, Snapchat set its sights on Indian advertisers and Pew Research revealed which platform US teenagers like best. Earlier this week, Facebook revealed that it is developing hardware and updated parental controls on Messenger Kids, Snapchat is teaming up with third-party apps and addressed workplace complaints, YouTube is promoting with AI, Alexa named the most popular websites in the US, Snapchat introduced a Lens that reacts to sound and Pinterest enjoyed sales growth thanks to marketers last year.
Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, June 1. 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.
Sheryl Sandberg Commits To Diverse Hiring At Facebook
During the Advanced Women’s Leadership Forum on Thursday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that the company is applying its “diverse slate” approach to hiring board members to ensure diversity in the workforce.
Sandberg also shared this information earlier in the day during the annual shareholders meeting, saying that she wanted to make the commitment publicly. Facebook’s statements are a direct response to shareholder Reverend Jesse Jackson, who accused the company of underrepresentation.
“Beyond the board, the C-suites, the top 15 employees are white, and that does not represent a random—it represents some lack of intentionality to be inclusive,” Jackson said.
Facebook: Out With Trending, In With News
After four years, Facebook is discontinuing its Trending News posts, stating that they accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers. Instead, the social network has partnered with 80 publishers across America to test a “Breaking News” label and notifications. A new section called “Today In” will serve as a Facebook hub for local news updates and a dedicated news section will be added to Facebook Watch for news-related videos.
Scandals? Most Facebook Users Seem Unconcerned
A recent survey by Thomson Reuters asked if consumers had altered their Facebook habits in light of recent data and privacy scandals. Surprisingly, only 18 percent of respondents said they now share less content on the site. At 47 percent, the top reason for withholding information on the platform is concerns about privacy, followed by a need to self-regulate—31 percent said they spend too much time on the platform.
Twenty percent are withholding Facebook posts after hearing negative stories about it on the news. Political bias on the platform is motivating others to take a break, with 15 percent saying the news feed is liberal leaning, and 12 percent saying it leans Conservative.
Pinterest Offers Full-Screen Video Ads
A promoted video tool is now available on Pinterest that takes up the entire screen. The idea-sharing site is pushing this and other marketing products to the entertainment industry, saying that more than 11 million boards on the site are dedicated to movies and that they reach 42 percent of people who saw a movie in theaters in the last six months.
“Entertainment is one of the fastest-growing categories on Pinterest, with more than 42 million people already using the platform to find new entertainment ideas,” Pinterest’s US sector lead of partnerships Meredith Guerriero wrote Thursday.
Snapchat Seeks Advertisers In India
Last year, Snapchat faced outrage from Indian users when a former employee quoted CEO Evan Spiegel as saying he had no interest in “poor countries” like India and Spain. If that statement was true, Spiegel’s tune has now changed. Snapchat has partnered with adtech firm Tyroo to ad monetization infrastructure and fuel growth in the APAC region.
“This strategic partnership with Tyroo will allow us to bring Snapchat to more advertisers in India, and help them see the value in connecting with our highly engaged users through the most fun and effective ad products on the market,” Geoffrey Reed, Snapchat head of international expansion, said in a statement.
Twitter Blocks Users That Signed Up While Underage
In an effort to comply with GDPR requirements, Twitter is blocking users that, based on their self-proclaimed birthdays, signed up for the service while under the age of 13. Even if they are well over the age of 18 now, users need to get parental consent before their profiles can be unlocked.
A source inside Twitter told The Guardian that the company’s hands were tied because it wasn’t possible to separate content a user created before and after they turned 13. The company is, however, looking for a more permanent solution to the age problem and several users on Reddit have been able to restore access by repeatedly submitting documentation proving their current age.
US Teens Prefer YouTube Over Facebook
Pew Research found that among US internet users between the ages of 13-17, 85 percent say they use YouTube, compared to 51 percent who use Facebook. When Pew Research asked the same questions in 2014, 71 percent of teenagers reported using Facebook, indicating a significant drop in young consumer preference.
Facebook isn’t missing out completely, however, as 72 percent of teenagers in the study said they use Instagram. Also, YouTube was not included in the previous survey, Pew noted.
Facebook Takes A Hard Look At Hardware
With the sheer volume of data that Facebook collects and is expected to sort through for inappropriate content, the company is designing its own computer chips to handle the load, Tom’s Hardware reported.
During the Viva Technology conference in France last week, Facebook’s chief artificial intelligence scientist Yann LeCun said that the company would like to take down offensive videos such as a murder or a suicide as they happen. To accomplish this, however, requires a massive amount of computing power and energy consumption.
“There’s a huge drive to design chips that are more energy-efficient for that. A large number of companies are working on this, including Facebook,” LeCun said. “You’ve seen that trend from hardware companies like Intel, Samsung, Nvidia. But now you start seeing people lower in the pipeline of usage having their own needs and working on their own hardware.”
Being able to filter pre-determined content as it happens could solve many of Facebook’s problems but raises concerns about abuse of that power, such as to silence views contrary to staff opinion—something the site has already been accused of doing.
YouTube Gives Google Assistant The Key To Its New Show
Subscribers to YouTube’s new premium service will soon be able to watch an exclusive new series called Impulse, but Google Assistant users can check out the first episode for free. Google Assistant users can say “Talk to Impulse,” at which point the AI will provide a synopsis and ask for a password. Those who answer correctly (“Henry”) will be sent a link to the unlisted first episode on YouTube.
Impulse tells the story of a teen girl named Henry who can teleport away from harm’s way but destroys everyone and everything around her when she does. The series is directed by Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Jumper) and debuts this summer exclusively on You Tube’s new Premium subscription service.
Snapchat (Finally) Turns To Third-Party Developers
Traditionally, Snapchat has been protective of its users but in doing so has missed opportunities such as fostering its influencer community. Now Snap, Inc. is addressing both problems, albeit one publically and one in secret.
Sources close to the company told TechCrunch that SnapKit—Snapchat’s developer platform—will allow users to “sign in with Snapchat” on third-party apps. In addition, software creators will gain access to a number of tools such as the Bitmoji avatar and AR camera.
The ability to sign into other apps with Snapchat may entice users back to the platform, as well as offer an alternative to signing in with Facebook amid widespread privacy concerns.
Snapchat Addresses Workplace Concerns
A former employee of Snap, Inc. has inspired change within the company’s work environment, Cheddar reported Wednesday. In November, software engineer Shannon Lubetich resigned and just before she left, sent a scathing email to her co-workers about sexist and hostile conditions. Among the complaints were off-color jokes made by senior vice president of engineering, Jerry Hunter and scantily clad workers hired for a company Christmas party.
Lubetich also alleged that Snap, Inc. encouraged a “pervading sexist vibe” and that talking to HR yielded no resolution. But Hunter, with whom Lebetich had the most beef, calls her email a wake-up call.
“We’ve worked hard to make Snap a place where everyone feels respected and everyone can grow,” Hunter told Cheddar. “I’m excited about the progress that we have made this year, but know that we certainly have more work to do.”
According to sources within the company, CEO Evan Spiegel told employees that he wants the company to “contribute to human progress,” and be more inclusive.
Messenger Kids Cuts Certain Parent Ties
If you like your kids’ friends but not their parents, you no longer have to be friends with them on Facebook to let your kids chat on Messenger. Facebook rolled out an update on Wednesday that makes it easier for parents to approve their children’s Messenger connections. Parents can invite other parents to download Facebook Messenger Kids by searching for their name but no longer have to be Facebook friends.
“Parents still have to approve every single contact their child can talk to on Messenger Kids,” Facebook assured users. “This change will just make it easier to complete the connections you want to make for your child without having to friend the other parents.”
Users Visit YouTube More Often, Spend More Time On Facebook
According to the latest tracking from Alexa, Google is still the top-visited site in the US, followed by its video-sharing site YouTube. While visitors spend an average of 8:31 minutes on YouTube, users spend 10:49 minutes perusing Facebook. Facebook has the advantage of an impressive 7 million backlinks to its content to drive viewership.
Twitter boasts over 5.4 million backlinks to its site and is number eight on the list of most-popular websites in the US. Reddit rules in terms of page visits, with an average of 9.73 pages viewed per day per visitor. Its loyal users also spend an average of 15 minutes per day, as well.
Snapchat Mixes AR With Audio
Snapchat has introduced its first augmented reality Lens that reacts to sound. The filter outfits users with animated ears and eyes that react to their voice and surrounding audio, growing and pulsing when the sounds get louder. While the Lens does not react to the pitch of a user’s voice or background music, it illustrates the possibilities for interaction and sponsored content.
The company told Engadget that it will roll out additional audio filters in the coming weeks.
Pinterest Piques Marketer Interest
Marketers spent more on Pinterest digital ads last year, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. As a result, sales jumped 58 percent to $473 million last year, compared to $298.9 million in 2016. Attracting marketers will be an important selling point before the photo-browsing site eventually goes public.
Pinterest has steadily rolled out changes over the past year to attract brands, including shoppable Pins, visual discovery and audience targeting options. The idea-browsing site capitalizes on its discovery-based layout and illustrated this during SXSW with an activation called Pinterest House.