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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #12 • View online
View this newsletter online and SHARE it with colleagues + friends
Hello, geeks! 👋
I woke up this morning to the rumour about Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom being approached by TikTok to be its next CEO… If there is ever to be a sequel to The Social Network movie, that would make for an epic plot twist!
Earlier this week, Facebook held its annual AR / VR event (Facebook Connect). Lots of geeky, cool new bits of hardware were revealed, including Oculus Quest 2 and a preview of Facebook’s AR glasses. Facebook REALLY wants to own and dominate the AR / VR space, much like Apple achieved with iPhone, its App Store, and Apple Pay. Facebook is well placed to do this right now, however, Apple’s also rumoured to be working on its own AR device which we may hear more about in the year ahead. Watch this space.
As for the big TikTok vs. Trump farce… See BREAKING NEWS above. I’ve just had to rewrite bits of today’s newsletter literally minutes before I was about to hit ‘Send’ when I spotted today’s significant developments. More analysis on Trump’s decision to block downloads of TikTok in the U.S from Sunday can be found below.
For the people asking me what I thought about the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’: Mostly that it oversimplified the complexities of the issues it was highlighting, and placing a lot of blame for a lot of problems at the doors of Facebook and other big tech companies. I have no doubt it felt like a bit of an eye opener for some, but for tech savvy or geekier types, much of it was more a reminder of what we already knew or suspected. I enjoyed watching it, but I did not leave feeling enlightened or woke by the points it was trying to hammer home.
Right, let’s dig into this week’s big stories and another fresh batch of new tools and features for you lovely lot to go play with. 👇
— Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Just as I was about to hit send on this week’s newsletter, news broke that Trump DOES plan to ban TikTok from this Sunday, as the deadline for a deal passes.
It follows a week in which potential deals have unravelled. Microsoft’s bid was rejected last weekend, leaving all focus on Oracle’s bid to be a ‘trusted tech partner’ for ByteDance in the US.
Given ByteDance didn’t really want to sell, and China wasn’t keen on a sale either, they’d been pushing for an outcome where ByteDance would retain at least some control. As Axios reported, Oracle would handle all US-related tech for TikTok, check its code for backdoors and security holes, and keep an eye on all future updates. Essentially, Oracle would police TikTok on behalf of the US government.
There would also be a US-specific board, and a separate company, TikTok Global, would own the US entity as well as TikTok around the world. Oracle would have a stake in this company, which Instagram founder Kevin Systrom had been reportedly approached to run(!) It would also float on a US stock exchange.
It’s all very complicated, but we always knew it would be — a simple sale of TikTok’s US operations was always a tough deal when the world’s two biggest superpowers are clashing over the outcome.
But now it seems Trump would prefer to upset millions of young people across America just before an election by banning TikTok from being downloaded. The app should still work for those who already have it, but for how long is another question, as it won’t get any updates or bug fixes — unless TikTok can salvage some kind of last-minute reprieve.
If you thought VR was only really good for gaming, Facebook’s big immersive tech event this week seemed designed to change your mind. Sure, the new Oculus Quest 2 will enable plenty of gaming fun, but the likes of Infinite Office — which turns wherever you are into a productivity space, helping you get into ‘work mode’ even when you’re stuck at home — showed how VR is ready to branch out.
Beyond VR, Facebook unveiled plans for Ray-Ban smart glasses. Functionally, they sound more like Snap Spectacles than Google Glass at this point, but it’s interesting that Facebook seems to be taking ‘don’t freak anyone out’ far more seriously than anyone who has come before in the space.
And that will be important, as these glasses aren’t just for taking photos and videos, they feed into ‘Project Aria,’ as OneZero explains:
“The company is launching a set of glasses that contains cameras, microphones, and other sensors to build a constantly updating map of the world in an effort called Project Aria. That map will include the inside of buildings and homes and all the objects inside of them. It’s Google Street View, but for your entire life.”
Facebook says that a bit like Google Street View cars are easy to spot, staff testing these glasses will wear clothing that clearly explains what they’re doing, and they’ll be trained to answer questions. Given the rise in anti-Facebook sentiment in recent years, it’s hard to imagine they won’t have any hassle to deal with on the street.
For more on Facebook’s latest thinking around AR and VR, see The Verge’s interview with Mark Zuckerberg.
Stars including Kim Kardashian West, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry stopped posting to Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours on Wednesday in one of the most high-profile protest against misinformation on the platforms yet.
But while it made a lot of headlines, it’s not going to shift the needle in terms of forcing significant change. Firstly, Facebook announces new measures to tackle misinformation seemingly every week at the moment (whether they work is another matter), so it would argue it’s already addressing the problem.
Secondly, big stars quitting for one day isn’t much of a protest. Unless a protest hurts their own businesses in a meaningful way, they’re not really making a stand through sacrifice, they’re just getting free publicity about their social media accounts.
And let’s face it, big brands quit for a month and that didn’t have much effect. 🤷‍♂️
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
"I Have Blood On My Hands": A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation
  • Facebook has launched a new dashboard to help businesses manage their Facebook and Instagram activity. It’s the first product that combines the backend infrastructure of three of its messaging apps. [Axios]
  • Facebook has looked to calm musicians’ fears over changes to how music will be treated on the platform from next month. [NME]
  • Facebook has launched a new certification programme for social media marketing professionals, in partnership with Coursera. [Social Media Today]
  • Instagram’s chief has echoed Mark Zuckerberg’s upset at Apple’s plans to make it harder for adtech in apps to track users. [9to5Mac]
  • Facebook has launched new measures to keep Groups safe. [CNet]
  • Facebook has failed to convince a court it doesn’t carry out business in Australia, as it looks to avoid more fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. [The Guardian]
  • Facebook and the New York Times will partner to tell news stories through AR. [Axios]
  • Facebook is not doing enough to stop fake clicks on ads, a new report claims. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Facebook is cracking down on groups that give health advice and promote violence [CNBC]
  • Facebook has launched a climate change information hub and has committed to eliminating ‘scope 3’ emissions by 2030. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook will give workers paid time off to vote in the US presidential election. [Axios]
Twitter rolls out new security features to prevent Election Day chaos
  • Twitter is introducing an ‘election hub’ offering voting information for Americans, in English and Spanish. [The Verge]
TikTok exceeds 100 million monthly users in Europe as US sale deadline looms
  • TikTok staff and contractors shouldn’t lose out if TikTok is banned from operating in the US. A new White House court filing will mean they won’t be blocked from being paid. [Reuters]
  • TikTok is proving a powerful marketing tool for OnlyFans stars. [The Verge]
  • A 4-year-old grime track from the North of England is responsible for TikTok’s most-liked video ever. [Vox]
  • Two UK police officers have received ‘final warnings’ after they made ‘offensive’ TikTok videos while in uniform. [BBC News]
And the rest:
YouTube launches its TikTok rival, YouTube Shorts, initially in India
  • Engagement with video and social content has soared during the pandemic. [AdAge $$$]
  • YouTube faces a UK class action-style lawsuit over alleged ‘unlawful’ use of children’s data. [TechCrunch]
  • A new Firefox extension will help uncover how harmful YouTube’s recommendation engine really can be. [The Guardian]
  • Reddit is considering new rules around political ads, but they’re more complicated than the outright ban many platforms have opted for. [AdWeek]
  • 400,000 US citizens have registered to vote via Snapchat. Snap launched the feature last week. [Axios]
  • The pandemic may spur a “reckoning” for social media misinformation, Melinda Gates says. [Axios]
  • TikTok’s most popular creator, Charli D’Amelio, has joined rival Triller, although she’ll still be active on other platforms including TikTok. [The Verge]
  • Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott‘s personal information was hacked after he posted a flight boarding pass on Instagram. [BBC News]
🌟 Tip(s) of the week
I asked my Twitter followers for their top tips for social media managers. Click the tweet below to read their replies and add your own 👇
Matt Navarra
The best social media manager tip, trick, or piece of advice ever…?

#SharingIsCaring ❤️
🔨 Tool of the week
This crazy new A.I tool enables you to create videos with ‘real’ presenters you can program to say anything you like! 😮
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook is testing longer-lasting Stories, with the option to keep them live for three days instead of 24 hours. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook is cleaning up all those random old Groups you forgot you were even in. [LifeHacker Australia]
  • Paid partnerships are coming to Facebook Groups. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has a new Twitter account for its reality labs team. [@FBRealityLabs]
  • Facebook has added new brand safety controls for in-stream ads. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Facebook now lets you create Stories on desktop in Creator Studio. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook Creator Studio now has a ‘Create Posts Tests’ feature. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has patched a bug that let anyone find out which private groups you’ve joined. [TNW]
  • Facebook has made it harder to sideload content onto the Oculus Quest [VentureBeat]
  • Facebook’s blood donation feature is now available in the UK. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has improved its ad offering for car dealers. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook is working on an FAQ section businesses can add to their accounts. [@alex193a]
  • User-created AR effects from Facebook and Instagram will soon work in Messenger and Portal. [The Verge]
AR effects in Messenger
AR effects in Messenger
  • Facebook Instant Articles now appear in Creator Studio with more insight and analytics. [@saaiko]
  • You could lose access to Oculus content if you sign in with a fake-name Facebook account, the company has clarified. [Road to VR]
  • Some Facebook Gaming streamers can now play copyright-controlled music in their videos, thanks to a new licensing arrangement. [The Verge]
  • Instagram has added auto-captions to IGTV. [VentureBeat]
  • Instagram’s low-data Lite app is back but seemingly without the revamp that was promised. [Android Police]
  • Could Instagram charge to put links in captions? A patent application suggests it’s been considered, but Facebook says it’s just a hackathon idea that won’t be implemented. [The Verge]
  • Messenger has launched ‘Watch Together’ so you can, er, watch videos together with others. [Facebook Newsroom]
  • WhatsApp could be working on fingerprint security for its web client. [Android Authority]
  • WhatsApp is working on the ability to set different wallpapers for different chats. [MSPowerUser]
  • Twitter is testing audio messaging in DMs in Brazil. [Social Media Today]
Audio messaging in Twitter DMs
Audio messaging in Twitter DMs
  • Twitter is (still) testing a ‘pin to top’ option to view new tweets stream in real-time. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter is testing a new design for its search result filter buttons. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter is apparently working on ‘Audio Space,’ a room where you can talk to anyone or just specific people you follow or mention. [@alex193a]
  • Twitter is testing a ‘request verification’ option. It has previously said it’s rethinking verification for some kind of relaunch. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter has launched a ‘Holiday Hub’ to help marketers prepare for the holiday season. [Social Media Today]
  • Twitter has released a trends report about Americans’ behaviour during lockdown. [@TwitterData 🧵]
  • New ‘Only on Twitter’ topics have been spotted in the wild. [@MattNavarra]
  • It looked like Twitter was testing a kind-of edit feature. But it was actually just a bug. [The Verge]
  • TikTok has launched music playlists on Apple Music. [@TikTok_US]
  • TikTok is almost ready to let Creators Fund members start withdrawing their cash. [TikTok newsroom]
  • Snap is experimenting with bringing ads to its lightweight Minis apps. [DigiDay $$$]
  • YouTube is to make engaged-view conversions a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads. [YouTube blog]
  • YouTube is testing a new section for scheduled streams and Premieres. [Android Police]
  • YouTube has launched new tools for marketers, helping them take advantage in the platforms increasing popularity. [Social Media Today]
  • YouTube is ditching some playlist-related features, including video notes, auto-add, and the ‘remove duplicates’ button. [Android Police]
  • Twitch is testing mid-roll ads that streamers can’t control. [The Verge]
  • LinkedIn is working on a notice reminding users to be “respectful and professional,” seemingly when they use rude language. [@wongmjane]
  • LinkedIn has published an updated guide to its ad targeting options. [Social Media Today]
  • Amazon has opened Twitch up to brands running campaigns through its ad platform. [AdAge $$$]
📖 Weekend reading
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg Need Trump Even More Than Trump Needs Facebook
😳 And finally....
Twitter-controlled anal vibrators are the cyberpunk future we need
📅 Back next week...
BOOM! And you are done!
Your weekly social media manager update is complete.
If you are digging this newsletter, why not check out more Geekout goodness:
📌 Listen to the Geekout with Matt Navarra podcast (season 3 coming soon)
📌 Geekout Community on Facebook (18,000+ members!)
Right, that’s your lot. Now clear off, and have an awesome weekend 👋
Goodbye geeks 😎
— Matt

This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2020: Matt Navarra Media Ltd

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