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Geekout Newsletter for Social Media Managers
Issue #76 • View online
*Read this newsletter on the web for the best experience*
Hello, geeks!
Welcome to the final edition of Geekout for 2021!
First off this week…The most essential tool in 2021
(OR the soundtrack to your social media nightmares!)
  1. UK Online Safety Bill is one step closer to becoming law [LINK]
  2. TikTok reveals plans to tweak its algorithm [LINK]  
  3. Instagram spotted testing longer stories [LINK] 
  4. Facebook confirms live chat support test [LINK] 
  5. Snap launched a dedicated video editing app [LINK] 
Also spotted in my feeds this week (and worth knowing about)…
TikTok launched its own Discord server AND a bunch of new editing tools + effects, including a GIF green screen feature…Twitter has a pushy new button AND is testing an interesting tweet collabs feature AND a new text editing tool (leftovers from Fleets)…
This change to Instagram DMs is stressing out social media managers… People spent 15 hours role-playing a McDonalds Drive-thru on Twitter Spaces… Facebook has a fancy new ‘Voice’ feature for Stories… Reply to comments with video appears to be the new ‘must-have’ feature for social networks: Twitter, Instagram Reels, and Pinterest have all added (or been spotted testing) similar features this week…AND FINALLY… My verification nightmare is getting out of hand! 
🔥 FOOD FOR THOUGHT | How Miele (the iconic home appliances brand) built its award-winning global social media strategy, managing 250+ social media accounts globally!
💀 RIP: The Tech That Died in 2021 [LINK] 
💯 GEN-Z: Instagram’s Gen-Z Trends Predictions Report for 2022 [LINK] 
📱 REPORT: Snapchat’s Top 50 AR Lenses in 2021 [LINK] 
🗣 PODCAST: The Metaverse, Web3, and NFTs in 2022 (v geeky but worth a listen!) [LINK]
Okay… For the final time in 2021, let’s take a look at the stories making waves in the social world this week👇
— Matt 
P.S.: The weekly Geekout Twitter Space will be back, refreshed and recharged in the new year.

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Social media companies have a big enough challenge policing today’s platforms, and yet our earliest glimpses of the ‘metaverse’ have already demonstrated that they bring with them a whole load of new problems.
As Parmy Olson wrote for Bloomberg this week, social VR can be an uncomfortable experience for anyone presenting as female:
Within moments, I was surprised by a deep voice in my ear, as if someone was whispering into it. “Hey. How are you?” One of the avatars had zoomed up to within inches of me, then floated away, taking me aback. A small group of male avatars began to form around me, staying silent.
As I chatted with a man from Israel named Eran who was showing me how to jump (you need to figure out how to activate it via your settings), several in the surrounding crowd started holding their thumbs and forefingers out in front of them, making a frame. Digital photos of my bemused avatar appeared between their hands. One by one, they began handing the photos to me. The experience was awkward and I felt a bit like a specimen.
And ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘awkward’ are just the start of it. MIT Technology Review reported this week that Meta’s Horizon Worlds has already experienced an incident of sexual assault:
According to Meta, on November 26, a beta tester reported something deeply troubling: she had been groped by a stranger on Horizon Worlds. On December 1, Meta revealed that she’d posted her experience in the Horizon Worlds beta testing group on Facebook.
More troubling? Meta’s response was that she should have used the ‘Safe Zone’ feature.  MIT Technology review explains: “Safe Zone is a protective bubble users can activate when feeling threatened. Within it, no one can touch them, talk to them, or interact in any way until they signal that they would like the Safe Zone lifted.” So, keeping safe is down to individual users having to make bubbles around themselves? That’s worryingly close to police saying it’s women’s responsibility to focus on their safety whenever they leave home, rather than men’s responsibility to not attack them.
Back in the Bloomberg piece, Olson says that Microsoft was moderating an event she attended in its AltSpaceVR service: “Of the dozen or so people who’d attended that panel, four were moderators secretly keeping an eye on everyone’s behavior.”
That’s a good start, but it’s hard to scale.
User safety is very different in traditional dominated social media than it is in a 3D virtual space. Once you’re interacting in an approximation of the real world, real-world social rules around things like physical space and body language start to apply, and the moderation challenges become completely different. But just as we shouldn’t expect women to exclude themselves from physical spaces to avoid harassment in the real world, why should they walk around in bubbles in virtual worlds?
…and talking about bridging the gap between the offline and online worlds, that was a theme that came through this week in a report about regulating social media as we know it today.
The UK’s Online Safety Bill is being looked to around the world as a potential model for how other countries could tackle the challenges social media presents. The Bill hasn’t taken its final form yet, but this week we got recommendations from a UK parliamentary committee for how it could be strengthened.
As BBC News reported:
A new parliamentary report calls for adding scams and offences, like sending unwanted sexual images and promoting violence against women and girls.
A named senior manager at the tech giants should also be made personally liable in court for failures, it said. Those behind the report said “we need to call time on the Wild West online”.
Damian Collins, chairman of the joint committee issuing the report, said: “What’s illegal offline should be regulated online. For too long, big tech has gotten away with being the land of the lawless…. the era of self-regulation for big tech has come to an end.”
The report recommends making a number of specific behaviours illegal, like promoting self-harm and stirring up violence. But it also warns against giving the government too much power by making parts of the Bill vague and open to interpretation by ministers.
Potentially the most important recommendation in the report is that social media companies should have to appoint a ‘safety controller’ who would be liable for “repeated and systemic failings”. It has been mooted that this could mean a prison sentence in the most serious cases.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen was among those who welcomed the report, but we’ll have to wait and see if any of its recommendations make it into the final bill.
In a world there there’s a growing appetite for stricter regulation of social media (the majority of Americans now want tighter regulation of social media, a new poll this week found), all eyes are on the UK. The Online Safety Bill probably won’t be perfect, but it will be the first major action in a Western democracy towards shaking out all the problems we’ve seen emerge over the past 15 years.
…and let’s not forget that Meta itself is asking for more regulation. That’s a point comms chief Nick Clegg reiterated this week in an interview with the Financial Times. For all we criticise Meta’s self-regulation, policing the world’s online communication is an enormous challenge, especially when you have shareholders demanding ever more growth and rivals constantly snapping at your heels.
It must get tiring. In the interview, which took place partially in VR via Horizon Workrooms, Clegg seemed to let his slick, corporate mask slip just a little every now and then: “If you, or any FT readers, have got any neat answers about how on earth we are meant to deal with political speech generally, please put it on a postcard,” he told interviewer Henry Mance.
At another point, Clegg even described the Quest headset he was using as “this wretched headset” - an interesting move for the person in charge of Meta’s public perception. 🤔
🔨 Fun app of the week
📈 Chart of the week
As Instagram reportedly hits 2 million users, a timely chart…
Matt Navarra
Time from launch until 2 billion active users for major social media platforms

source: axios
🤔 Thought for the week
💬 You can quote me on that
When I’m in the news, you’ll read about it here…
Twitter’s 7 acquisitions in 2021 show its ambition to move beyond the live feed
🔵 Meta news
All the latest from Meta brands: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and beyond:
A new spyware-for-hire, Predator, caught hacking phones of politicians and journalists
  • Meta’s incoming CTO Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth blames society, not Facebook for the problem of Covid-19 misinformation. [Axios]
  • Instagram has reportedly hit 2 billion users, but it hasn’t officially announced the milestone yet. [CNBC]
  • Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has revealed more details of how the chronological feed will work (exactly as predicted in last week’s newsletter, it seems). [The Verge]
  • Meta is behind a $60m deal to acquire the trademark rights to of US regional bank Meta Financial Group. [Reuters $$$]
  • Instagram has a problem with fake accounts promoting cryptocurrency scams. [CNBC]
  • Leaked documents show how Meta researches the popularity of its rivals. [Insider $$$]
  • Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr. has signed up to stream exclusively on Facebook Gaming. [Variety]
  • Meta has launched a bug bounty programme to pay researchers who find security holes in its Quest hardware. [Android Central]
  • And Facebook has expanded its bug bounty program to include scraping bugs and unprotected data sets. [Engineering at Meta]
New features and tests:
  • Facebook is testing live chat support for some English-speaking users, including creators who have been locked out of their accounts. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook’s ‘Home’, ‘Favourites’ and ‘Recent’ feed order options have been spotted in the wild. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook Live has a bunch of new features, including four-person co-broadcasting and the ability to share livestreams to Facebook Stories. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook is testing a ‘Voice’ format for Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook now lets creators hide all comments on a post in one go. [Adweek $$$]
  • Facebook now displays achievements badges for Pages. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook now shows Group admins ‘suggested cards’ and recent posts to add to ‘Featured’. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook is rolling out its Group ‘Experts’ feature to more users. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook has been spotted adding aPriority’ section to the notifications tab on desktop. [@ahmedghanem]
  • Instagram has launched the ‘Reels Visual Replies’ feature that was previously spotted in testing. [@instagram]
  • Instagram is testing 60-second Stories videos. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is now publicly testing its ‘Favorites’ feature. [@MattNavarra
  • Instagram has added a profile embed feature in the US. [Social Media Today]
  • Instagram has added a ‘show when you’re active together’ setting. It lets you show your active status when both you and a friend are in the same chat. [@MattNavarra]
  • Meta’s Avatars feature is now showing up on Instagram for more users. [@ahmedghanem]
  • Instagram has been spotted explaining why a post is in the feed. [@chrismessina]
  • Instagram has started to roll out notification filters. [@blueasyraff]
  • Instagram’s Product Countdown sticker has been spotted in the wild. [@mattstasoff]
  • Instagram is testing some kind of support for Stories at 60 frames per second in the HEVC format on iOS. [@wongmjane]
  • Instagram now lets you convert part of an uploaded video to a Boomerang. [@blueasyraff]
  • Instagram is testing the ability to add a user mention or location tag via the typing tool in Stories. [@ahmedghanem]
  • Spam in your spam? Instagram has added a hidden spam messages inbox… to its spam messages inbox. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram has started including post tags in DMs. This won’t be popular with admins of big accounts. [@edmaughan]
  • Instagram has added a ‘shuffle suggestions’ button to its ‘suggested for you’ feature in Stories. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is working on an option to let you choose whether others can embed your posts or profile on other websites. [@alex193a]
  • Ellen Degeneres has brought her mobile game Heads Up! to Messenger and Instagram, making use of AR video calling Group Effects. [Meta newsroom]
  • Messenger and Instagram now have a new effect for video calls in partnership with First We Feast. [@messenger]
  • WhatsApp is rolling out a change that means by default strangers won’t see your ‘last seen’ status. [The Verge]
  • WhatsApp now lets you preview voice messages before sending them. [The Verge]
  • WhatsApp could soon let group admins delete any message for all members. [WABetaInfo]
  • WhatsApp is working on introducing more emojis. [WABetaInfo]
  • The Ray Ban Stories smart glasses have been updated with support for Messenger messages and calls, and other features like checking the battery status. [The Verge]
  • Meta’s Spark AR Go iOS app is now open to more users. [Social Media Today]
  • Meta has launched an A.I.-based tool that animates children’s drawings. [Social Media Today]
  • Meta has released a VR hand-tracking showcase for developers using Unreal Engine. [UploadVR]
🐣 Twitter news
Racists and Taliban supporters have flocked to Twitter’s new audio service after executives ignored warnings
  • Twitter has asked a judge to throw out Donald Trump’s lawsuit over his ban from the platform. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • People spent 15 hours roleplaying a McDonald’s drive-thru on Twitter Spaces 🤔 [The Verge]
Insights to give you an edge at work:
  • Looking for some inspiration for your next Twitter campaign? The company has shared some top agency-oriented ad campaigns from this year. [Social Media Today]
  • Planning your 2022 Twitter strategy? The company has published a planning guide to help. [Social Media Today]
New features and tests:
  • Twitter has introduced automatic captions for videos. [Social Media Today]
  • Twitter is testing a new text editor for tweets. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter is working on the ability to post tweets as a collab between two users. [@alex193a]
  • Twitter now has a ‘Follow Back’ button on accounts that follow you but you don’t (yet) follow. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter is testing warnings about potentially ‘intense’ conversations again, but with some changes based on user feedback. [@TwitterSupport]
  • Twitter is working on a ‘Quote Tweet with reaction’ option. [@alex193a]
  • Twitter’s Birdwatch tweet annotation system has launched a new note rating form. [@birdwatch]
  • Twitter has released an updated share layout for scheduled Spaces. [@JoselinMane]
  • Twitter is working on a ‘Report Community’ button. [@nima_owji]
  • Twitter now lets Community admins change their communities between being Open and Invite-Only. [@HiCommunities]
  • Twitter has introduced a new ad naming feature to its API, which should make some advertisers’ lives easer. [@MattNavarra]
🔺 TikTok news
TikTok tackles filter bubbles
  • “Messy” execution meant TikTok’s high-profile NFT project with Grimes, Lil Nas X, and Bella Poarch never went ahead. [Rolling Stone]
  • US schools have stepped up security amid unconfirmed shooting and bomb threats on TikTok. [The Verge]
  • 430 songs exceeded 1 billion video views on TikTok in 2021. [The Verge]
  • The US military is still using TikTok to attract new recruits, despite orders banning the app’s use on government devices. [The Verge]
  • A TikTok user traded items up from a hairpin to a house in just 19 months. [BBC News]
Insights to give you an edge at work:
  • TikTok has quietly launched a ‘Measurement Academy’ to train agencies in how to best quantify the the impact of ads on the platform. [Digiday $$$]
  • Need some TikTok inspiration? The company has shared its top brand campaigns and product trends from 2021. [Social Media Today]
  • What music works best on TikTok? The company has shared the top songs and music trends on the platform this year. [Social Media Today]
  • And TikTok has shared its top 20 emerging artists of 2021. [TubeFilter]
New features and tests:
  • TikTok has added new editing tools and effects, including a GIF Green Screen powered by Giphy, and HD video uploads [TechCrunch]
  • TikTok has launched a Discord server to let its users chat to each othe. [TechCrunch]
  • TikTok has partnered with Rotten Tomatoes to let users link to ratings, reviews, and the like. [TechCrunch]
  • TikTok has been spotted testing a PC game streaming app to take on Twitch. [TechCrunch]
💥 More social media news and updates
Reddit: Social media platform files to go public
  • Reddit users spammed the Kellogg’s jobs portal in support of striking workers. [The Verge]
  • The European Parliament has voted to beef up regulation of American tech giants. [Reuters $$$]
  • Snap says it has paid out more than $250m to 12,000 Spotlight creators on Snapchat in 2021. [Variety]
  • Snapchat seems to be preparing to launch a ‘Made for Me’ panel of users to help improve its inclusivity. [@alex193a]
  • LinkedIn has launched its job search app for the Chinese market after it recently withdrew its social platform there. [LinkedIn blog]
  • LinkedIn and Cameo have teamed up for a festive ‘#LinkedOutOfOffice Carolers’ campaign. [Adweek $$$]
Insights to give you an edge at work:
  • Get some inspiration for Snapchat lenses with Snap’s ‘Lens of the Year’ report. [Snap newsroom]
New features and tests:
  • YouTube is testing a ‘Places Mentioned’ feature that will automatically link to information about places mentioned in a video. [Social Media Today]
  • Minecraft videos on YouTube have collectively surpassed 1 trillion views. [TechRadar]
  • Snap has launched a standalone ‘Story Studio’ video editor for iOS. [The Verge]
  • Snapchat could soon let you choose who can use your Bitmoji in stickers. [@alex193a]
  • Pinterest now lets you reply to a comment with an idea pin. [Social Media Today]
  • Twitch’s new unsubscribe feature hasn’t been a hit with all users. [Eurogamer]
  • Google has launched an experimental app to help creators monetise their output. [Social Media Today]
  • Signal now supports up to 40 participants in video calls. [XDA Developers]
💲 Advertise in Geekout
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Get in touch:
📖 Weekend reading
Her Instagram Handle Was ‘Metaverse.’ Last Month, It Vanished.
😳 And finally...
Jon-Stephen speaks for all of us in 2021…
Jon-Stephen Stansel
Me as Social Media Manager in 2014: Studies show that if you post at 11:42am on a Friday and include 2 hashtags on a post that’s exactly 156 characters it will perform 22% better!

Me as Social Media Manager in 2021: I don’t know man. This shit changes every day. I can’t keep up.
🎆 Back in the new year
…And that’s about it for Geekout this year!
I hope you’ve found my (super long) emails useful in 2021 :)
I’ll drop the first edition of Geekout in 2022 into your inbox on Friday 7th January.
Time for me to switch off, log out, and get my Christmas on.
Stay safe and enjoy the holidays !
Merry Christmas, geeks! 🎄
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
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