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Keep the change, ya filthy animal

Geekout Newsletter
Issue #27 • View online
Hello, geek friends!
Wow! What a week! Trump’s account finally got suspended on Twitter and pretty much all other major social media platforms. It’s an action that should have been taken a lot sooner, IMO. It’s going to be interesting to see the fallout and ramifications of this decision for the big tech companies in the year(s) ahead.
Forget Trump for a moment. The fact the president of a global superpower has been banned across multiple social platforms has understandably reignited the contentious debate about freedom of speech, censorship, and the enduring concerns about the power a small number of companies (and executives within them) hold over what can be published online.
For an interesting take on this, check out this clip of journalism professor and author Jeff Jarvis chatting to the BBC about this very thorny issue. Good points, well made, I think.
HIDDEN GEM | Bored of endless Zoom calls for work? Want to avoid totally pointless meetings. This tool helps you fake a bad connection on Zoom. Enjoy!
While all the Trump ban news was breaking, I posted a silly joke tweet calling for Trump to be edited out of that scene in Home Alone 2. Well, that led to days of abuse from Twitter trolls. I guess some people really don’t get sarcasm. It didn’t help that InfoWars embedded the tweet in an inflammatory article. Bored Panda interviewed me about the whole saga. Icing on the cake: Macaulay Culkin says he supports the idea! Such drama. 😆
Here are a few other things I spotted this week which you may have missed:

Right… Let’s get on with this week’s big social media talking points, updates, and changes. Lots to discuss!
— Matt

P.S. Geekout on Discord is currently in beta. We have about 100 members testing it out, BUT we want a few more people to join us! Use this invite link (expires after 100 uses)

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
So it finally happened. Twitter pulled the trigger and banned Trump. It turns out that inciting violence against politicians, and then implying more violence would be okay, was the final straw.
Trump immediately tried (and failed) to evade the ban, memes went crazy, and embedded tweets were broken across the web. The move emboldened others to get tougher, leaving Trump banned or suspended on most big platforms. Snapchat made his suspension permanent. Even YouTube, which had until then seemed quite relaxed about Trump, took action eventually by stopping him uploading new videos for two weeks.
The big question is, did Twitter do the right thing? Opinion is split. Techdirt had a good take on why Twitter got it right, but it’s not just Trump’s supporters who oppose the ban. Germany’s Angela Merkel called it “problematic,” arguing that lawmakers, not private companies, should have the final say about political speech. Poland has even proposed a law that would make it illegal to take down posts that don’t break laws in the country.
For what it’s worth, Jack Dorsey comes down somewhere in the middle on the merits of banning Trump, but he still believes it was the right thing to do.
The next challenge for social platforms is helping to keep next week’s inauguration ceremony safe. Facebook has banned ‘stop the steal’ content and Twitter is taking action too.
If Trump thought a Parler account might be a good refuge after being dropped by Twitter, he’ll have been disappointed.
Over the space of three days, big tech wiped the ‘free speech’ network favoured by Trump supporters off the internet. First Apple threatened to remove Parler from the App Store (ironically just as the app hit number one on the App Store in the wake of Twitter’s Trump ban) if it didn’t better moderate its users’ content, then Google pulled it from the Play Store for the same reason, and then Apple followed through on its threat and suspended it.
Things only got worse as Parler’s hosting company, Amazon dropped it for breaking AWS terms of service. Parler was completely offline by Monday morning.
Parler tried to fight back with a paper-thin lawsuit against Amazon, but with user data having been scraped, potentially helping the FBI investigate the Capitol riot, the company’s week went from bad to worse.
Now with seemingly no major technology providers willing to work with it, Parler may never return.
The past week has seen big shifts in the messaging landscape. Big tech’s push against far-right content, and anger and confusion over WhatsApp’s new terms of service, have both played a part in huge leaps in popularity for Signal and Telegram. Niche players like MeWe have also seen a lift.
WhatsApp’s changes are the biggest driver of these shifts, and it’s put the Facebook-owned company into damage control mode. It claims the new terms don’t actually change anything at all for most users, but that hasn’t stopped a significant rise in interest in rivals.
India —its biggest market — is of particular concern for WhatsApp. There it’s taken out full-page newspaper ads asking users to stay, as it faces a legal challenge over privacy.
Meanwhile, the far-right’s shift to different apps may not be the biggest driver of their growth, but it is a concern. Telegram has had to start blocking extremist content, while MeWe has faced scrutiny of its moderation practices. No doubt we’ll soon start to see the usual suspects in politics and law enforcement highlight Signal’s end-to-end encryption as a risk to public safety, too.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook Turned on Trump After Warnings That ‘Business as Usual Isn’t Working’
  • Facebook has hired its first ever VP of Civil Rights. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook has faced staff criticism for running ads for body armour and other combat gear next to posts about the insurrection. [BuzzFeed News]
  • Facebook has told employees to avoid wearing company-branded following the suspension of Trump’s account. [The Independent]
  • Tesla overtook Facebook as the world’s fifth most valuable company. [CNBC]
  • PewDiePie is coming to Facebook Gaming, but will remain on YouTube too. [Forbes]
  • Sir David Attenborough will not return to Instagram, despite his record-breaking stint on the platform last year. [BBC News]
  • But young climate activists want Attenborough to hand his Instagram account over to them. [@BBCYoungReport]
Over 2 Billion Gaming Tweets in 2020!
  • Twitter has revealed the new official accounts of the Biden administration. They include new @PresElectBiden and @SecondGentleman accounts. [@CNet]
  • And Twitter has explained how official accounts like @POTUS will change on inauguration day next week. [Twitter blog]
TikTok will make under-16s' accounts private by default to protect them from groomers
  • TikTok’s average monthly time spent per user grew by 70% in the US and 80% in the UK, surpassing Facebook, according to an AppAnnie report. [Campaign]
  • TikTok hosted an encore performance of the hit Ratatouille musical. [The Verge]
  • A TikTok stunt involving a car on a level crossing has been called “staggeringly stupid”. [BBC News]
  • Sea shanties are TikTok’s hottest new trend. [Variety]
And the rest:
Snapchat acquires location data startup StreetCred
  • Medium has acquired Glose a social and commerce platform focused on books. [CNN]
  • A YouTube rival called Rumble is suing Google, alleging that it diverted traffic from Rumble to YouTube. [Wall Street Journal $$$]
  • YouTube and WhatsApp are both closing in on half a billion users in India. [TechCrunch]
  • Reddit has removed the ‘r/donaldtrump’ subreddit for repeated policy violations. [TechCrunch]
  • Twitch clocked up 17 billion hours watched in 2020 (up 83% on 2019). [The Verge]
  • A Twitch record was broken by Fortnite streamer TheGrefg when he achieved more than 2 million concurrent viewers. [The Verge]
  • Twitch’s popular PogChamp emote returned. It was removed because it was based on a user who appeared to support the storming of the Capitol. The new version features a different face every day. [The Verge]
  • A new agency has launched to help creators and models manage their OnlyFans accounts. [Business Insider]
  • UK influencers have been trying to justify fancy travel during the pandemic. [The Guardian]
  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (AKA Harry and Meghan) have abandoned social media. [The Times $$$]
  • Movie-focused social network Letterboxd is going mainstream. [New York Times $$$]
❓ Questions of the week
These two Twitter threads are social media manager gold!
Awful social media ‘hacks’:
Matt Navarra
What’s your best social media manager “hack”?

wrong answers only.
Things you NEVER want to hear said as a SMM 😂:
Matt Navarra
Things a social media manager never wants to hear...

[Credit: @thelauramoore]
🔨 Tool of the week
Dealing with unwanted attention on Twitter? Block Party makes it easy to wipe those harassers out of your feed. 🔥HOT TIP: Use this link to sign up and jump the waitlist.
🐣 Tweet of the week
Jack Dorsey’s Twitter thread explaining the thinking behind banning Trump, and its implications, is well worth reading in full —even the bit where he suddenly shifts gear and starts talking about Bitcoin.
I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump from Twitter, or how we got here. After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has started prioritising original news reporting in the News Feed. [@campbell_brown]
  • Facebook has revamped its ‘Access Your Information’ tool. [9to5Mac]
  • Facebook is testing a new way to add effects, filters, and frames to photos. [@mamun91bd]
  • Facebook Workplace has launched new features to help businesses during the pandemic. [@alexvoica]
  • Facebook has announced new policies and quality control initiatives for its Instant Games Platform. [Facebook Gaming]
  • Facebook has listed upcoming changes to its Marketing API and Ads Insights API. [Facebook for Developers]
  • Instagram may soon let you hide Like/View counts on your posts. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram has been spotted showing if a feed post has used a filter or effect. Useful for people’s self-esteem! [@MattNavarra]
An Instagram post 'made with effect'
An Instagram post 'made with effect'
  • Instagram is alerting business account users about how it accidentally let them add licensed music to Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram now warns multi-account users which account will show up as having viewed Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • The Oculus Quest 2 gets multi-user support from next month. [The Verge]
  • Twitter continues to work on Birdwatch for crowdsourcing the policing of misinformation. A landing screen and navigation icons have been uncovered. [@wongmjane]
  • The Twitter ‘Birdwatch values’ have also been uncovered. [@wongmjane]
  • Twitter has revealed the most creative brand campaigns on the platform last year. [Campaign]
  • Twitter has published a super-useful 108-page planning guide for your 2021 tweet strategy. [Social Media Today]
  • Post-roll ads are now activated by default on all monetised videos on YouTube. [Search Engine Journal]
  • YouTube’s analytics now help creators understand how their videos perform in their first 24 hours. [Search Engine Journal]
  • YouTube is now testing the ability to buy products in videos. [Android Police]
  • YouTube has launched hashtag pages. [Android Police]
A hashtag page on YouTube
A hashtag page on YouTube
  • YouTube’s website now has voice commands to search, navigate, and play. [9to5Google]
  • YouTube has announced partnerships to help make it a trusted location for health videos. [9to5Google]
  • Snapchat is working on an ‘Events’ option to help you meet people face-to-face, when that’s possible. [Social Media Today]
  • Snapchat Spotlight has been spotted adding public view counts to videos. [@MTZLER]
  • LinkedIn Stories now supports swipe-up links on accounts and Pages with more than 5,000 followers. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn has launched its latest report on employment trends on the platform. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn Marketing Labs has launched to provide education on LinkedIn advertising. [Social Media Today]
  • Tech is on the rise on Pinterest, according to a new report from the company. [Social Media Today]
  • Twitch and Samsung have partnered on a series of gaming events. [Gizmodo]
  • Substack has added themes so you can customise the look of your newsletter. [The Verge]
📖 Weekend reading
😳 And finally....
📅 Back next week...
BOOM! You. Are. Done. 
Consider yourself fully updated.
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Have a great weekend, everyone.
Goodbye geeks!
— Matt

This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2021: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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