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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #29 • View online
Hello, geeks!
First things first… Are you are using 😂 in TikTok comments? Yeah, me too. Well, apparently we need to stop. Why? Answers here. SMH. 💀
I’ve been thinking…Facebook and Instagram need to lose weight. These are the sorts of random things I think about as I sit at my desk working. (You are my outlet for these inane geeky musings.) I was preparing a slide deck about Instagram and just happened to notice this. Moments later I was checking something in the Geekout Group on Facebook when I noticed this. Granted, Facebook has got bigger things to deal with, but hell, they need to trim some fat. Anyway…
Talking of bigger things to deal with… The Facebook vs. Apple war of words is about to go next level. Reports suggest Facebook is about to file an antitrust case against Apple in relation to what it calls an ‘unfair’ approach to privacy. The phrase “People in glass houses…” comes to mind. Regardless, Facebook is going to be spending a lot of time in court (again) in 2021. The lawyers are the real winners here. 🤑
HIDDEN GEM | Tweet 2 Image (iOS) is a neat little tool to convert tweets into shareable images for Instagram, or elsewhere. Smart Feature: You can tap to select a reply to the tweet to create a shareable image of the conversation thread.
Twitter has been busy again this week. They bought a newsletter publishing tool. In fact, it’s the very tool this newsletter is created on - Revue. I’m pretty excited to see how Twitter integrates it into their platform. If they can find smart ways to aid discovery of newsletters, help boost new subscribers, and support creators monetise their work, selfishly, I will be very happy :) Watch this space.
ICYMI… Here are a things I spotted this week which I think you’ll love:
Time to get down to business. Let’s get you up to speed with everything new in social media land this week…
— Matt
P.S. 🏠 Join us on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 29 JAN) at 4PM GMT / 11AM ET / 8AM PT for Geekout Weekly. Follow along as we walk through all the social media news + updates in this week’s newsletter. You can jump in and give us your opinions and thoughts too!
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A global look at the State of Digital in 2021
There are plenty of reports out there that give you a narrow view of the state of social media, but Digital 2021 from Hootsuite and We Are Social takes a truly global approach. It analyses digital, social, and mobile data from every country in the world, and is used as a reference by millions of global brands and social marketers like you every year. So jump right in…
Did you know that there are now 4.2 billion social media users around the world, nearly double what the number from five years ago in 2016, when the figure was 2.31 billion? Now, that doesn’t represent 4.2 billion individual people (users for individual apps are combined to reach the figure, and the average person has 8.4 social accounts), but it does show just how much the market for social and messaging services has grown in that time.
And users are spending more time on social media, too. Last year, the global average for time spent on social media by users aged 16 to 64 was 2 hours and 25 minutes per day. That’s 34 minutes more than it was in 2015.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook tops the chart of the most-used social mobile apps worldwide, absorbing an average of 19.5 hours of users’ time per month. If you combine all of Facebook’s main apps (including Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and WhatsApp Business), Facebook properties claim an average of 61.2 hours of our time per month.
And people like us, who use social media for work, aren’t exactly a tiny minority these days. 40.4% of internet users ages 16 to 64 use social media for work.
The report has almost 300 pages of global social media and digital insights like this, so if you want to be smart and informed (and look smart and informed to your boss or clients) download Digital 2021 for free today.
🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Surely this was the most press attention Reddit has ever received in one week. The way the WallStreetBets community on the platform pushed GameStop’s stock price to insane heights made headlines around the world.
I won’t go into details about the whys and hows of it all (try this Vice explainer to understand the basics), but this story is just the latest example of how social media can shake the world up in unexpected ways. And it comes just weeks after social media activity helped almost overthrow American democracy. It’s been a wild month, to say the least.
It wasn’t just Reddit at the centre of the drama; Discord became a ‘virtual trading floor’, as The Verge put it. And after banning the WallStreetBets community briefly, Discord ended up supporting them. Meanwhile over on TikTok, quite possibly unreliable investment advice was a hot topic, so no change there!
It’s the social app everyone’s talking about, and now Clubhouse has got a huge warchest of funding to help it grow, open to all, launch an Android app, improve moderation, and start making money.
It’s the ‘making money’ part that’s most interesting here. In its blog post about the deal (which was announced on Sunday morning California time, to tie in with the weekly Clubhouse Town Hall event in the app), the startup said:
Over the next few months, we plan to launch our first tests to allow creators to get paid directly—through features like tipping, tickets or subscriptions. We will also be using a portion of the new funding round to roll out a Creator Grant Program to support emerging Clubhouse creators.
If that all sounds very much like how Twitch and Substack support creators, it’s because Silicon Valley has figured out that taking a cut from helping lots of creators thrive is the big new social business model. And that brings us neatly on to…. 👇
Twitter has acquired the platform that makes this newsletter, and it wasted no time in starting to weave it into its main offering. Twitter on the web has been spotted already integrating a ‘newsletters’ menu option.
So what’s going on here? Twitter wants to give creators more ways to, er, create on Twitter. That’s why we’ve seen the Clubhouse-like Spaces feature develop so quickly. And newsletters are another way Twitter can let people share content in larger doses than just 280-character bursts.
Similar to Clubhouse’s monetisation plans, expect new ways for newsletter writers (like me!) to make money directly through Twitter. As David Pierce at Protocol speculated:
Paid newsletters, paid podcasts, ticketed Spaces events and all manner of other similar products could add new revenue streams. Twitter could also be trying to make money from creators themselves, too: It has at least run surveys asking how users would feel about paying to upload longer videos, get better analytics, or add custom badges to their profile.
Meanwhile, news comes from inside Facebook that it is working on the same strategy, including — of course — its own newsletter app, according to the New York Times.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook's Oversight Board orders takedowns restored
  • Facebook had a strong quarter in terms of financial results, but its North American user numbers were down again. [Fast Company]
  • Facebook also warned that its profits may be harmed by what it calls Apple’s ‘self-serving and anti-competitive’ privacy changes. [MacRumors]
  • Facebook is said to be planning an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple over its control of the iOS App Store. [The Information $$$]
  • Meanwhile, Apple’s Tim Cook has slammed Facebook’s business model. [9to5Mac]
  • Facebook News has started to roll out in the UK. As with in the US, publishers are paid for inclusion of their content. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook is to stop recommending political Groups to users, and is considering reducing the amount of politics in your feed. [CNBC}
  • Facebook has a private agreement with the UK data watchdog over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The revelation of the deal has spurred criticism of the ICO. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook spent $19.68 million on lobbying in 2020 — more than any other big tech company. [CNBC]
  • Facebook will let academic researchers access 2020 election ad targeting data. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook comms chief Nick Clegg has been talking regulation: “Facebook and other social platforms are something entirely new – and should be regulated as such.” [The Telegraph $$$]
  • The UK’s investigation of Facebook’s planned Giphy acquisition should be complete by 25 March. [TechCrunch]
  • WhatsApp is to be probed by the UK data regulator over sharing data with Facebook after previously pledging not to. [The Guardian]
  • Facebook ad targeting for military personnel could be abused, researchers have warned. [Wired]
  • A cybercriminal is selling access to an old database of phone numbers of Facebook users, supposedly covering 533m users. [The Verge]
Twitter launches 'Birdwatch,' a forum to combat misinformation — with your help
  • Applications for Twitter account verification will reopen later in the year, the company has confirmed. [@TwitterComms]
  • Twitter has opened up its full archive of tweets to academic researchers for free. [The Verge]
  • Twitter has had a brand refresh, including a new typeface called ‘Chirp.’ [@leslieberland]
  • NBCUniversal has signed a deal that will bring some of its premium content to Twitter for the first time. [The Drum]
  • Twitter has acquired data storage tech startup DriveScale. [Blocks & Files]
  • Verified Twitter users shared more ‘deceptive’ content in 2020 than in previous years, according to a new study. [Axios]
India permanently bans TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps
  • Italy asked TikTok to block users who have not verified their age, after a 10-year-old girl died doing a ‘blackout challenge’ for the app. The deadline for TikTok to respond is today. [TechCrunch]
  • TikTok has a problem with users illegally marketing vaping products to teenagers. [TechCrunch]
  • A security hole in TikTok saw users’ personal details open to scraping, although there’s no evidence the exploit was used. [CNet]
  • TikTok owner ByteDance had a good 2020. Its revenue more than doubled to around $37bn, and its operating profit rose to more than $7bn. [The Information $$$]
  • TikTok has lined up Miley Cyrus as the star draw for its content around the Super Bowl on 7 February. [AdAge]
  • TikTok has turned the viral sea shanty into a TV ad. [The Drum]
And the rest:
Letter from Susan: Our 2021 Priorities
  • TikTok-like video app Byte has been acquired by similar app Clash. The two will work together on a combined product. Byte was founded by a Vine co-founder, and Clash by a former Vine video star. [New York Times $$$]
  • Snap acquired Ariel AI, a computer vision startup with founders who used to work at Google and Facebook. The deal occurred last year but has only just been reported. [Business Insider $$$]
  • US Democrats have called on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to address the potential for radicalisaton via their platforms, in the wake of the storming of the Capitol. [The Verge]
  • Prince Harry blames social media for the Capitol riot. He has called for reform before it’s too late for society. [Fast Company]
  • Heavy social media use can damage teenagers’ mental health, according to a new study. [BBC News]
  • ‘Lips’ is a new social network aimed at free sexual expression. [Mashable]
  • YouTube’s TikTok-like Shorts is a hit in India. The company says it’s getting 3.5bn views per day in the country. [CNBC]
  • YouTube has again extended its ban on Donald Trump… and this time it’s not given a date the ban will end. [@richardnieva]
  • YouTube says it has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and others over the past three years. [The Verge]
  • Signal gained 7.5m users and Telegram gained 25m users following controversy over WhatsApp’s upcoming privacy policy change. [The Guardian]
  • Remember ICQ? The 90s chat app is big again in Hong Kong. [Wall Street Journal $$$]
❓ Question of the week
The responses to this week’s question feel embarrassingly familiar.
The tweet replies are devastatingly accurate. I feel seen!
Matt Navarra
you can tell if someone's a social media manager when...
🔨 Tool of the week
Type Studio
🐣 Tweet of the week
can't wait to explain this week to my therapist
🔍 Insights
  • Facebook has explained how the News Feed works in a series of tweets and articles. [@alexvoica]
  • Facebook Instant Articles can boost article readership by a third, UK news publisher Reach has found. [Press Gazette]
  • Facebook has launched the Spark AR Curriculum, to help teach users how to create AR effects. [Spark AR blog]
  • Twitter and Sprinklr have launched a report exploring best practice in customer service on social media. [Social Media Today]
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has rolled out new gaming features for live streamers, including auto-generated video clips that capture key moments in your stream. [Facebook Gaming]
  • Facebook Creator Studio now lets you set a custom timeframe to view lots more Page/Post data. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook’s Pages app is being shut down, with users being pushed to the new Business Suite app. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has added a ‘delete post and start report’ option for managing Group posts. [@MattNavarra]
  • I’ve shared some screenshots of the new Facebook Admin Assist feature for Groups. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook apologised after a bug logged many users out last weekend. [USA Today]
  • Instagram’s Content Publishing API now lets businesses schedule up to 25 posts per day. [Adweek $$$]
  • Instagram is testing blocking the sharing of posts to Stories, as some users think too many people do it too often. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram continues to work on a 'broadcast audience’ mode. There’s now evidence of a practice mode to go with it. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram has been doing more work on the ‘Collab’ sticker. [@alex193a]
  • Messenger now offers artsy 360-degree backgrounds for Rooms and video calls. [Messenger News]
One of Messenger's new 360-degree backgrounds. Credit: Facebook
One of Messenger's new 360-degree backgrounds. Credit: Facebook
  • WhatsApp is adding new biometric login options. [@MattNavarra]
  • WhatsApp is no longer in Google Camera’s social sharing shortcuts, but it’s probably just a bug. [Android Police]
  • Twitter continues to polish its Spaces audio chat feature. This week it announced bug fixes and new features in a Twitter thread. [@TwitterSpaces]
  • Twitter has open-sourced the text editor it uses in its iOS app, so other developers can use its code in their own apps. [Twitter Engineering]
  • More users are spotting Twitter’s ‘share to Instagram Stories’ option, currently in testing. [@blueasyraff]
  • Popular iOS Twitter client Tweetbot has launched version 6, supporting lots of features that were missing before, but now for a $0.99 per month/$5.99 per year subscription. [The Verge]
  • TikTok has launched a new creator portal [Adweek $$$]
  • TikTok now lets users with photosensitive epilepsy remove videos that may cause seizures from their feed. [TikTok newsroom]
  • TikTok is testing a new Quizlet feature to support users creating educational content. [TikTok newsroom]
TikTok's Quizlet feature. Credit: TikTok
TikTok's Quizlet feature. Credit: TikTok
  • The YouTube website can now be installed on your device as a progressive web app. [9to5Google]
  • YouTube has begun testing a ‘Clips’ feature that lets users share short, looping segments of longer videos. [9to5Google]
  • LinkedIn now lets you control who can comment on your posts. [Social Media Today]
  • Snapchat has launched a digital literacy program to educate users about issues like data privacy and security. [Axios]
  • Pinterest’s AR makeup try-on feature now supports eyeshadow. [TechCrunch]
  • Telegram now lets you import your WhatsApp chats if you want to switch apps. [The Verge]
  • Spotify’s Anchor podcast hosting platform has had a rebrand. [Anchor blog]
  • Dating app Bumble now has an algorithm that flags incidents of body shaming, for moderators to review. [TNW]
  • Sony has developed a $2,500 smartphone aimed at professional content creators and streamers on the go. [TechRadar]
📖 Weekend reading
TikTok: Keeping content creators on the right side of copyright
😳 And finally....
📅 Back next week...
If you made it this far, I’m proud of you. You’re nearly done!
🏠 Don’t forget to JOIN ME on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 29 JAN) at 4PM GMT / 11AM ET / 8AM PT for Geekout Weekly!
Buy me a drink?
This newsletter is FREE.
I hope you find it useful and a fun read.
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It’s Friday after all! :)
Goodbye geeks!
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2021: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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