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Geekout Newsletter #7 - Trump vs. TikTok… FIGHT! 🥊

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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #7 • View online
Don’t keep this newsletter all to yourself…
View it online here and SHARE it with all your people!
Hello, geeks!
A quick recap of where we are at…
TikTok is still not banned, and Trump is still acting like a sketchy AF mob boss masquerading as the US President, trying to extort money from a private business whilst Microsoft tries to figure out if it’s a crazy-ass idea to blow $50 billion buying ALL of TikTok.
Meanwhile Facebook deploys its standard M.O by launching ‘Reels’, its copy/paste of TikTok. Oh, and Trump has banged out another executive order to set a 45 day deadline for the sale of TikTok US before he instigates a ban. TikTok responded to the latest executive order by posting a salty memo with the underlying tone being: 🖕. Check out what I told Channel 4 News about this mess earlier in the week.
I think that brings us up to speed…What a week! 😃
Meanwhile, a ton of other stuff also happened in the world of social media.
So, lets dig in!
— Matt
❗️ PS. Don’t forget to join the Social Media Geekout community on Facebook. You are one of us now!

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
The Trump/TikTok dispute has got ever more heated as the week went on… and it seemed pretty serious when it all kicked off last weekend.
Just in the past few hours, Trump upped the stakes on Microsoft’s plans to buy TikTok, by banning US companies from doing business with TikTok in 45 days’ time.
Microsoft’s deadline to buy the company is just 40 days away, so the stakes are high. And the price Microsoft will have to pay seems to have got higher, too. The FT [$$$] reported yesterday that the deal is now to buy the whole of TikTok outside China, not just the North American, Australian, and New Zealand chunk. This makes a lot more sense, and will make the whole thing less complicated.
Still, FT sources say it could still take up to eight years for Microsoft to completely remove ByteDance code from TikTok, given how the app currently shares development with the Chinese version.
TikTok, for its part, was keen to reassure users that it wasn’t going anywhere. A video message from US general manager Vanessa Pappas was well received, and the company has reportedly sealed a deal with the UK government to base its new HQ in London. Then, after the new executive order essentially banning TikTok in the US unless its sold to an American company, TikTok threatened to sue the Trump administration.
If it has to go, TikTok won’t be going quietly.
The app’s young fanbase has so far reacted with a mix of emotion and humour. And if you think about it, a bunch of old politicians taking away their favourite app in the face of scant evidence that TikTok does anything worse than Facebook when it comes to user tracking, feels like the kind of injustice that deserves to stir up a few tears.
Despite potentially gaining from a TikTok ban, Mark Zuckerberg reportedly thinks such a move would set “a really bad long-term precedent.”
Of course, there are rivals waiting to steal TikTok’s users whether Microsoft saves the app or not. Speaking of which….
Facebook spotted its moment, and pulled the trigger, launching Instagram Reels in more than 50 countries around the world this week. If you’re still getting to grips with it, here’s a good guide to how it works and what you can do with it.
In all, Reels is strikingly similar to TikTok, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed Facebook’s history of cloning successful rivals.
That said, maybe its similarity doesn’t matter too much. My TikTok-obsessed daughter said “Ohhhh! This looks cool!“ after a few minutes exploring Reels, so some users may happily jump over — especially if the Microsoft deal falls through and TikTok is banned in the US next month. And let’s not forget, Instagram copied Stories from Snapchat, and that worked perfectly. And as with Stories, Instagram may help people who never ‘got’ TikTok engage with this style of video-making.
Perhaps the biggest risk though, is how Instagram’s app is becoming increasingly complicated as it throws in ever more features to tackle rivals. Sometimes, less is more.
It didn’t take long to track down suspects in July’s Great Twitter Hack. Three young men (two from Florida and one from the sleepy English seaside town of Bognor Regis) were arrested for their involvement in the hack after apparently leaving a trail of evidence across the internet.
The biggest alleged fish in this crime was 17-year-old Graham Clark, who the FBI say went as far as calling Twitter staff pretending to be from the company’s IT department, in his quest to gain access to back-end account management tools. The New York Times explains more about how it went down.
Clark has pleaded not guilty, but his bond hearing (held remotely) was interrupted in the most 2020 way possible, by an explicit zoombombing.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
More Than 1,000 Companies Boycotted Facebook. Did It Work?
  • There’s no clear sign of what advertisers will do next with their ad budgets, following the boycott. [Digiday]
  • But some Facebook moderators want the boycott to be extended. [The Guardian]
  • Facebook Gaming has launched on iOS… without games. Apple is under fire for restrictive rules on gaming that also hit Microsoft this week. [The Verge]
  • Facebook fired an employee who collected evidence of bias towards conservatives in the company. [BuzzFeed News]
  • Instagram has blamed a bug for hiding negative hashtags about Donald Trump. [BuzzFeed News]
  • 20 state attorneys general have called on Facebook to do more to stop messages of hate, bias and disinformation from spreading. [New York Times $$$]
  • Text, infographics and topical illustrations are growing fast on Instagram as people turn to the platform for information. [Axios]
  • Zuck’s personal wealth hit $100bn this week 😳 [BBC News]
Twitter warns about possible $250 million FTC fine
  • Twitter fixed a bug in its Android app that could have let hackers read your DMs, but the company says there’s no evidence it was exploited. [Twitter Privacy]
  • Twitter faced criticism for locking the accounts of people fact-checking Trump. [BuzzFeed News]
TikTok tightens misinformation rules before 2020 election
  • TikTok owner ByteDance has accused Facebook of “plagiarism and smears.” [Reuters]
  • TikTok salary data has revealed how much it pays for key jobs. [Business Insider $$$]
  • Apple has denied it’s interested in making a bid to buy TikTok. [The Verge]
  • Advertisers’ interest in TikTok is reportedly cooling. [Digiday $$$]
  • The highest-earning TikTok star raked in an estimated $5m last year. [Forbes]
And the rest:
  • The FBI raided Jake Paul’s home in an investigation related to his alleged involvement in looting and rioting earlier this year. [ABC7]
  • And two YouTubers face up to four years in jail after faking bank robbery getaways as a prank. [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Facebook and Twitter both took action against the Trump campaign for sharing a video that claimed children were “almost immune” to Covid-19. [USA Today]
  • People are more likely to share misinformation if it visibly has lots of likes and shares. [NiemanLab]
  • And Americans who rely on social media for news are more likely to be less engaged and knowledgeable. [Pew]
  • Australia has given Google and Facebook three months to start paying for news content from publishers. [AP]
  • The US Census Bureau is relying on social media for a big push to get people to respond to the 2020 count. [Axios]
  • Prince Harry has called for social media to be ‘redesigned’ for the good of society. [Fast Company]
📊 Poll of the week
Click through to the tweet below to vote in the poll, and leave a reply with your thoughts!
Matt Navarra
Will Instagram’s TikTok-clone Reels be a hit for Facebook?

Let’s chat about it... 🤔
🔨 Tool of the week
How many of these do you experience each week? 👇
TikTok hears the news about Reels…
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has now launched officially licensed music videos in the US after weeks of gossip that the feature was coming. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook is testing highlighting when a commenter has a lot of followers. [@MattNavarra]
  • You can now tag people in Instagram videos from Creator Studio. [@ahmedghanem]
  • Facebook Messenger’s business website plugin has been updated so visitors can get in touch without being logged into Facebook. [AdWeek]
  • Facebook has launched a new video interview series to share insights into its product development process. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook is prompting some users to add hashtags to their posts. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has opened applications for its accelerator programmes for startups around the world. [Facebook for Developers]
  • Instagram has launched new fonts in Stories. These have been in testing for a while. [@Instagram]
New fonts to try in Instagram Stories
New fonts to try in Instagram Stories
  • WhatsApp will help you spot conspiracy theories in viral posts with a new search feature. [Android Police]
  • WhatsApp is rolling out support for Messenger Rooms. [The Indian Express]
  • WhatsApp is giving search filters to some users. [Android Police]
  • WhatsApp beta testers have access to 138 new emoji. [WABetaInfo]
  • Twitter is testing a new version of its ‘suggested follows’ feature. [@MattNavarra]
Twitter's 'suggested follows' feature
Twitter's 'suggested follows' feature
  • Twitter accidentally announced the option to limit who can reply to your tweets was fully rolling out on iOS. Really, it had just put the wrong text on the App Store. 🤦‍♂️ [The Verge]
  • Twitter now labels government officials and state media in certain countries. [Twitter Blog]
  • Twitter is testing a revised share sheet on iOS to make sharing tweets quicker. [@TwitterSupport]
  • TikTok is launching its first TV app. ‘More on TikTok’ will feature video playlists, curated compilations, and more. [Business Insider $$$]
  • Twitter has published new data on using multiple video formats in one campaign. [Social Media Today]
  • Snapchat is working on the ability to add music to your snaps, like TikTok. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Snapchat is rolling out tools to help its young users in America register to vote. [Business Insider]
  • Some users have spotted City Stories inside Snapchat. [@EverythingSnap]
  • Snapchat now lets your face become an animated sticker. [Engadget]
  • Snapchat now lets you dress your Bitmoji in Ralph Lauren gear 😎 [Mashable]
  • LinkedIn has launched a UK ad campaign to highlight how it’s helping professionals during the pandemic. [Social Media Today]
  • YouTube has added new insights to the Creator Studio dashboard, and a display for Stories analytics in its mobile app. [Social Media Today]
  • YouTube is testing a redesigned upload button in a new position on iOS. [9to5Google]
  • Advertisers can now use Google’s lead form extensions in YouTube and Discovery campaign ads. [Search Engine Land]
  • NewsWhip has launched its latest report showing what works best in social video right now. [NewsWhip]
  • 88.4% of videos on YouTube get fewer than 1,000 views, a new report says. [Music Business Worldwide]
  • Is Facebook Boost a waste of money? Or is Ads Manager better? The results are in… [Agorapulse]

📖 Weekend reading
Trump’s TikTok Crusade Makes US Censorship Look a Lot Like China’s
😳 And finally....
📅 Back next week...
…And we are DONE! ✅
You’re fully updated on all the latest news, views, tips, tools, and changes in the world of social media this week.
If you found this newsletter useful, can you do 1, 2, or all 3 of the following things for me?
  1. Join the Geekout community on Facebook 🗣
  2. View this newsletter online and SHARE it with your work colleagues + followers ❤️
  3. Find, Follow, and Geekout with me in all these place: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | LinkedIn
Have an awesome weekend, everyone!
Goodbye geeks.
— Matt

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