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Big Revolution - When mojo doesn’t bounce

Welcome to Friday’s newsletter, sent from a train heading into London, where I’m going to work with t
April 5 · Issue #390 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s newsletter, sent from a train heading into London, where I’m going to work with teams on the WeWork Labs accelerator programme. Get in touch if you’re an investor who wants support with your startup portfolio’s propositions, language use or content.
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • The UK government is proposing that social media company executives could be personally liable for harmful content spread on their networks, leaked documents reveal.
  • Google has cancelled its new A.I. ethics board amid controversy around its makeup. That it closed the board so quickly, rather than improving it, adds credence to the idea that it was little more than a PR move.
  • Amazon has an Alexa-powered alternative to Apple’s AirPods headphones in the works, Bloomberg reports.
  • The Internet Archive has made 450,000 of the songs recently deleted by Myspace available on a special website.
The big thought
Bitmoji AR. Credit: Snapchat
When mojo doesn’t bounce
Snap yesterday tried to get the world excited about Snapchat again by introducing new features like party games, expanding Snapchat Stories to third-party apps like Tinder, and launching some genuinely impressive AR.
But there’s no getting away from the fact that Snapchat is struggling to maintain relevance in a world where TikTok attracts youngsters and Instagram hoovers up everyone else.
I can’t think of a single social media product that has lost its mojo and managed to get it back. The slow death of Google+ came to a full stop this week, but it began back when most people away from a niche of hardcore fans got bored of it. Like Snapchat, it continued to introduce interesting new features for some time, but the mojo was gone and it was too late.
Myspace tried to make multiple comebacks to no avail, and most social media apps that experience a short dose of excitement quickly fade away – remember Peach?
Facebook and Twitter have evolved beyond this faddishness to become akin to essential public utilities. They withstand a relentless assault of bad press because people find them so useful, but their time may yet come.
Once the mojo’s gone, it’s gone; the audience has moved on. But maybe that’s not inevitable. A social media company that manages to battle through irrelevance back to being essential will have competitors beating down their door to learn the secret. I just wish I knew what it was. And I bet Snap’s Evan Spiegel secretly feels the same.
One big read
How China Turned a City Into a Prison How China Turned a City Into a Prison
This brilliant bit of multimedia storytelling deserves to win awards. It helps you understand the situation faced by muslims in China better than 10,000 words could.
One big tweet
MacKenzie Bezos opened a Twitter account (and got it verified!) to announce her divorce settlement with the world’s richest man. He tweeted his own version, too.
That’s all for today...
See you in your inbox tomorrow for your weekend big reads.
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