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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #25 • View online
Hello, geeks!
“🎶 🎄 It’s beginning to feel a lot like…” Unless you have a s**t load of scheduling posts still left to do.
HOUSEKEEPING: Geekout Newsletter will be taking a break for the holidays after today’s edition. It will return on Friday 8th January 2021. I need a rest!
So, Twitter has been busy this week! What the hell is going on over there. In the past seven days: They killed Periscope, bought group video chat app Squad, launched Audio Spaces, brought back easy retweets, rolled out a new verification policy, revealed a new funny tweets thing, started testing a ‘shared interests’ feature. The product team(s) must have REALLY wanted to clear their desks before heading off for the Christmas break!
HIDDEN GEM: MusicallyDown lets you download TikTok videos with/without watermark & TikTok audio tracks as MP3s
In other news… 
Finally, a collection of other stuff I stumbled upon this week which you may enjoy!
RANDOM AF: Go to Facebook. Publish a new post with just the letters “gg”. View post. Tap the letters.
FUN: Get an AR baby Yoda in your house.
WIN: The ‘Data Lotto’ is offering you a chance to get rich. This is SO 2020!
FAKE: Someone built this Fake ‘fake’ tweet generator
Ok… time to dig into all the news and updates spotted this week…
— Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Even the most advanced tech companies resort to old-school media every now and then. Facebook took out full-page ads in major US newspapers this week to protest against Apple’s forthcoming move to give users the option to stop apps tracking their activity.
Apple’s move is a problem for Facebook, which benefits massively from the data it gains from all the apps that use its tech — data that helps it target ads to you and me. If users have the option to say ‘stop tracking me’ then Facebook’s ads become less valuable.
But rather than simply say this, Facebook’s message was that Apple was going to hurt small businesses (because their ads wouldn’t be as well targeted) and would even hurt the ‘free internet.’ The campaign was backed up by a #SpeakUpForSmall hashtag campaign that it hoped would mobilise a groundswell of small business owners against Apple.
But Facebook’s arguments ring a little hollow when it isn’t always friendly to small businesses itself, and it’s not exactly healthy if small businesses rely on Facebook ads to survive, is it?
What’s more, Apple’s response — essentially that users are free to continue letting Facebook track them if they want — is hard to argue with. Let’s face it, a sizeable proportion of users will probably just accept tracking to make the notification go away after a few times seeing it in different apps.
It seems Facebook will probably just have to suck this change up, and accept that it may take a hit to its targeting accuracy.
Whether it’s new regulation or new antitrust lawsuits, big tech companies have governments around the world breathing down their necks more than ever.
The new UK proposals were joined on the same day by EU proposals that would see companies like Facebook and Google face yearly checks on their work to address illegal and harmful content, and new controls around user data and how they use their size to restrict competition.
Both the UK and EU propose fines of up to 10% of global revenues for breaking the new rules, with forced breakups also on the cards in the EU plans. Responding to the UK proposals, Facebook couldn’t help but get a jab in against Apple.
Across the Atlantic, the US Federal Trade Commission launched a probe into the privacy practices of big tech companies, while a Texas-led antitrust lawsuit accused Google of colluding with Facebook. And in Australia, Facebook’s use of its Onavo Protect VPN software to monitor which apps users opened faced an antitrust action.
If you’re a lawyer looking for work, Silicon Valley is probably a good place to be right now.
We knew it was coming, and here it is: following a feedback period, Twitter has turned its previous proposals into a solid verification policy. It now has clear rules on who can get a checkmark on their account, and also how they can lose it.
The policy launches next month and should mean fewer people asking why they can’t get verified or wondering why one person gets verified while another doesn’t. That’s assuming Twitter applies the rules fairly and consistently, of course.
Meanwhile, a new label will be introduced in 2021 that signifies when an account is a bot, and you will be able to memorialise the account of a loved one who has passed away, similar to Facebook’s long-established approach.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook is temporarily disabling some Messenger and Instagram features in Europe
  • Facebook will now directly notify people with a message when they share misinformation about the pandemic. [Fast Company]
  • Facebook is moving UK users to California terms of service, spurring worries they could face weaker privacy over time. [Reuters]
  • News industry folk aren’t happy to learn that Facebook is developing a tool that automatically summarises news stories, so you might not have to click on them. [BuzzFeed News]
  • Facebook has confirmed that it has rolled back an algorithm change that promoted authoritative news sources. [New York Times $$$]
  • Instant Articles are still a thing. Since the beginning of 2020, more than 5,700 new publishers have begun using or rejoined Instant Articles. [Facebook Journalism Project]
Twitter launches its voice-based ‘Spaces’ social networking feature into beta testing
  • Twitter is killing Periscope. The standalone service will be switched off in March. You’ll still be able to stream live video from the Twitter app, though. [The Verge]
  • Twitter has brought back easy old-school retweets. It turns out encouraging quote tweets didn’t lead to more considered sharing after all. [@TwitterSupport]
  • Twitter has been fined €450,000 in Ireland for not responding to a data breach in a GDPR-compliant way. [TechCrunch]
  • Twitter has acquired the team behind Squad, a social screen-sharing app. They will now join various Twitter departments, and their app has shut down. [TechCrunch]
  • Twitter briefly limited interaction with Trump’s election-related tweets last weekend. [Variety]
  • Twitter has banned Covid-19 vaccine misinformation. [@TwitterSupport]
  • Twitter has signed a deal with Amazon Web Services to expand its platform’s compute abilities, and hopefully reduce the chance of outages and slowdowns. [Social Media Today]
  • Academic researchers have developed a tool to predict which Twitter users will spread disinformation. [TNW]
  • Remember the hacker who said he guessed Trump’s Twitter password recently? Dutch prosecutors say they believe the incident DID happen, despite the White House’s denials. [BBC News]
TikTok expands Community Guidelines, rolls out new ‘well-being’ features
  • US appeals court judges signalled they don’t think Trump’s attempts to ban downloads of TikTok are legal. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • TikTok routes data about job applicants through China. [Business Insider $$$]
  • TikTok will take action against Covid-19 misinformation. [TikTok Newsroom]
  • TikTok is removing users who are OnlyFans creators or sex workers. [Rolling Stone]
  • TikTok has also banned promotion of pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing scams. [BusinessInsider $$$]
  • TikTok has begun its biggest ever US ad campaign, even as its future in the country remains unclear. [Variety]
  • Old-school gossip blogger Perez Hilton was banned from TikTok for violating community guidelines. [New York Times $$$]
  • TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio has had her account deleted in an apparent hack attack. [UniLad]
  • TikTok has shared the top music on its platform this year. [TikTok Newsroom]
And the rest:
Reddit acquires TikTok rival Dubsmash
  • Reddit will now offer independent verification of ad views on its platform. [WeRSM]
  • Unilever will resume advertising on Facebook and Twitter, saying it has made progress on the companies meeting its ‘responsibility’ standards. [Campaign]
  • Snap has partnered with Unity to give Snapchat advertisers access to Unity’s ads inventory and game developers access to Snapchat technology. [AdWeek $$$]
  • A British MP has proposed a new law to notify users when social media images have been altered or enhanced with filters. [The Sun]
  • Twitch set a new engagement record with 1.7 billion hours of streams watched in November. [VentureBeat]
❓ Question of the week
The social media manager’s nightmare before Christmas? Check out the replies and add your own!
Matt Navarra
A social media manager's NIGHTMARE before Christmas is....?
🔨 Tool of the week
What to Tweet?
🐣 Tweet of the week
Casey Newton
GMail is still up for me, so let me know if you need me to check your messages.
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has launched new features for Group admins. They include the ability to temporarily pause a group rather than archive it. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Facebook has been spotted warning users if a website is loading slowly in its in-app browser in iOS. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook Gaming has announced new monetisation features for creators. [AdWeek $$$
  • Facebook is reportedly working on a Cameo-style app. Copy-and-kill at play again? [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Facebook is reportedly developing a new Marketplace feature allowing users to book freelancers for small jobs. [The Information $$$]
  • Facebook is putting some users’ deleted posts into a bin for 30 days, rather than immediately removing them. [@thekarachikid]
  • Facebook’s experimental music collaboration app Collab is now open to all in the US. [Facebook NPE blog]
  • Facebook Help Center has a new look. [@alexvoica]
  • Instagram has announced new features to combat Covid-19 misinformation. [The Verge]
New Covid-19 info in Instagram
New Covid-19 info in Instagram
  • Instagram is testing restricting sharing of feed posts to Stories, as users find there are too many Stories posts of this type, according to a Spanish-language report. [T13]
  • Instagram is rolling out ‘Multi-capture’ camera mode for Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is also rolling out a new ‘Photo Booth’ camera mode for Stories. [@MattNavarra
  • Instagram now lets you show your other accounts on your profile. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram has added new creative tools in Reels and Stories. [Social Media Today]
  • Instagram Lite has been relaunched in India. This low-fat version of Instagram is smaller that 2MB in size. [TechCrunch]
  • Instagram could soon let you tag people in Reels. [@alex193a]
  • Messenger has added new festive AR effects and sticker packs. [Messenger News]
  • Messenger Kids has rolled out new Christmas features, including a message from Santa. [Facebook Newsroom]
  • Twitter says it knows your sense of humour and can tailor the jokes you see to what you find funny. [Ubergizmo]
  • Twitter has detailed how its API will evolve, with academics getting increased access and a new product track for businesses. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Twitter is testing ‘humanisation prompts’ that show what you have in common with the people you reply to. The aim is to turn down the heat on arguments. [Mashable]
'Humanisation prompts' being tested by Twitter.
'Humanisation prompts' being tested by Twitter.
  • Twitter has begun testing the ability to share tweets to Instagram Stories. [@burkenstocks]
  • Twitter continues to work on a way to let you block, er, unwanted pictures in your DMs. [BuzzFeed News]
  • Twitter could soon let you add stickers to fleets. [@alex193a]
  • TikTok has launched its first dedicated app for TVs, in a partnership with Samsung. [Business Insider $$$]
  • TikTok has introduced text-to-speech support for accessibility. [@TikTokCreators]
  • TikTok users can get four months of Apple Music for free thanks to a new promotion. [9to5Mac]
  • TikTok has added a suite of festive updates to TikTok Ad Manager’s creative tools. [@MattNavarra]
  • Walmart will test live video shopping on TikTok. [TechCrunch]
  • Snapchat’s new Bitmoji Paint feature lets hundreds of people paint together on a shared canvas. [VentureBeat]
  • Google’s Year in Search is now available in AR, via a Snapchat AR portal lens. [AdWeek $$$]
  • YouTube has shared insights into emerging video trends during 2020. [Social Media Today]
  • YouTube is experimenting with ways of promoting its Shorts feature. [Android Police]
  • LinkedIn has a new ‘Products’ tab for company pages, but the products will be curated by LinkedIn itself. [Social Media Today]
  • Secure messaging app Signal has launched encrypted group video calls. [The Verge]
  • Pinterest now lets you @mention on Story Pins. [@MattNavarra]
  • Discord is adding a mobile screensharing feature to iOS and Android. [TechCrunch]
  • Twitch has banned the words ‘simp’ and ‘virgin.’ [Gizmodo]
  • Spotify’s Anchor is working on a Q&A feature so listeners can ask podcasts hosts questions about an episode. [@wongmjane]
  • OBS, popular software with game streamers, now lets you record music in a separate channel, so it can be removed from the recorded stream. Goodbye copyright strikes? [The Verge]
📖 Weekend reading
Social Networking 2.0
😳 And finally....
This Google Arts & Culture experiment with opera singers’ voices and A.I. lets you create your own little song. And it’s really good fun.
📅 Back next week...
AND… For the last time in 2020…
I will be back in your inbox again on Friday 8th Jan 2021.
Merry Christmas.
Goodbye, geeks!
COMING SOON… Geekout on Discord! (Pssst…. You might be able to find your way in already, somewhere in this newsletter. Well, I did say I had a *little* something for you. First 50 people to find it get in!)
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2020: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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