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My 2018 predictions for Facebook, Twitter, and Snap

2018 predictions. This is the Interface's final edition of 2017, as I spend next week with family and
December 22 · Issue #53 · View online
The Interface
2018 predictions. This is the Interface’s final edition of 2017, as I spend next week with family and away from the molten intersection of social networks and democracy. But before I go, here are five predictions for next year around the subjects we cover around here.
1. Midterm turmoil. Under pressure to strengthen their platforms’ defenses ahead of elections, Facebook, Twitter, and Google work overtime to implement fixes. But it will turn out they were fighting the last war instead of the current one. Russia-linked groups will find new ways to buy ads, create inflammatory posts, and make them go viral. Everyone will be very mad, but amid the general chaos of 2018 the companies will still manage to escape significant new regulations. Facebook will increasingly push the narrative that Russia’s attacks on the platform are a national security issue and need military and diplomatic solutions. 
2. The retreat to private spaces. (Shout out to Taylor Lorenz in particularly for shaping my thinking on this one.) More Americans take the adage “Never tweet” to heart, and become even more selective about what parts of their lives they broadcast publicly. This disproportionately benefits Facebook Groups, Reddit, and encrypted messengers. It also helps keep Snap afloat, even as the Discover tab continues to flail. Signal adds more group features and begins looking more like a social network, like WhatsApp in India. Twitter, under new pressure from Instagram and its Direct standalone messenger, begins to explore its own standalone client for DMs.
3. Live streaming cools down. The retreat to private spaces puts a damper on platform efforts to push live broadcast video. (The exception is HQ-style game show apps, a handful of which become medium-sized hits.) Periscope is folded into Twitter. Companies have more success with Houseparty-style “live chilling apps,” and Facebook rolls out its Houseparty clone, Bonfire, in the United States. Instagram explores adding live chilling to Direct. 
4. Clone wars. What will be Instagram’s take on Snapchat Discover? Here’s a guess: As it pushes more Explore content to main feed, Instagram reevaluates the purpose of the tab. This leads it to consider putting original video content in the Explore feed, starting with a handful of popular influencers. Highlights, which allow users to package their best ephemeral stories into permanent collections, emerges as a creative format in their own right.The one thing Instagram finds it can’t clone is privacy-invading Snap Maps, which Snap invests more heavily in for this very reason. 
5. Media anxiety. Frustrated with the weak monetization on platforms like Facebook and Snap, publishers cool off on original programming plans there. Instead they focus on diversifying revenue streams (programmatic ads, live events, merchandise) and rebuilding direct relationships with audiences (podcasts, newsletters). Cash-poor companies turn to layoffs and consolidation, but people who predicted nuclear winter for media (digital and otherwise) still look dumb at the end of 2018. 
Thanks so much for reading and sharing The Interface during these first six weeks. Happy holidays and see you in 2018!

Russian hackers hunted journalists in years-long campaign
Designing Emotion: How Facebook Affordances Give Us The Blues
Facebook pages hijacked, company no help
CNN Is Axing Snapchat Daily News Show ‘The Update’
Here’s how to check if you interacted with Russian propaganda on Facebook during the 2016 election
The Pessimist’s Guide to 2018: Fake news kills Facebook
The Google-Facebook Duopoly Threatens Diversity of Thought
HQ Trivia Is a Harbinger of Dystopia
And finally ...
What’s YOUR 2018 prediction? Email me at and if I get enough good answers, I’ll post a mailbag in the first edition of the year. Coming your way Jan. 2. 
Happy holidays!
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