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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #32 • View online
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Hello, geeks!
Being a social media manager is a scary job. Does this scare you? 😬. BTW… We made it on to a list! …Anyway…
Facebook, oh Facebook! Drama. Again. They’re back stirring up trouble (yet again) this week following their decision to hit the nuclear button and kill ALL news content on the platform for users in Australia.
In fairness, the Australian government’s incoming laws around payment for news content by FB and Google are bonkers. However, Facebook’s hardcore response only further underlines how powerful it is at a time when its trying to quash accusations of it having a monopoly. 
While we’re talking all things FB… Facebook wants to compete with Apple Watch. Good luck with that, Zuck.
HIDDEN GEM | Black Highlighter (iOS) - A tool to hide text in screenshots or images you’re going to share on social. Hide people’s names, e-mail addresses, and more with just the swipe of a finger

DID YOU SEE…?

Random quick thing… I was sitting eating a late dinner last night and watching TV when this happened. Geekout friend and newsletter editor Martin SFP Bryant with a great new job title on BBC News at Ten! Well played, Martin :)

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Before we jump into his week’s BIG news stories, here are a few more fun, weird, and (maybe) useful things I spotted online this week:

FUN: Check out 217 NEW emojis coming soon
TOOL: …And here’s a tool to make Emoji Wallpaper
INSIGHTFUL: A great read predicting the future for Clubhouse
REVEALED: New features for Twitter Spaces (and Android support!) rolling out soon
WATCH: Beatbox Flute guy on TikTok

Okay. That was fun, but let’s check out the serious stuff. Time to dive into this week’s news…

— Matt

P.S. 🏠 Join us on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 19 FEB) at 11AM ET / 8AM PT / 4PM UK in our Geekout Weekly room! It’s mildly entertaining!

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
Facebook did it. They went nuclear and, quite frankly, the world was stunned. Not only does Facebook’s move to block news from Australian users have serious implications for that country, it also means that people all around the world no longer get to share and read Australian news sources via Facebook.
The news industry is understandably unhappy, and with traffic drops of 20% or more in Australia, you can understand why. The chair of the UK’s News Media Association said it was “a classic example of a monopoly power being the schoolyard bully, trying to protect its dominant position with scant regard for the citizens and customers it supposedly serves.”
And Australian politicians were furious. One said Facebook was “behaving more like North Korea than an American company.”
Throw into the mix unchallenged misinformation and Facebook’s accidental banning of health departments, charities… and even its own pages, and it’s clear the company’s unilateral decision to pull news demonstrated just how much power it has over people’s information diet.
But the alternative — paying news organisations for the right to link to them — is not a healthy scenario. News organisations benefit from being linked to. The traffic drops they’ve suffered show just how much they gain from being on Facebook. Now they expect to be paid for it as well.
“[This ‘link tax’] is fundamentally against the principles of an open internet. The government saying that you can’t link to a news site unless you pay a tax should be seen as inherently problematic for a long list of reasons.”
Led by Rupert Murdoch (who is not exactly a fan of Facebook and Google), the Australian media orchestrated a shakedown of tech companies that could well be replicated around the world. Facebook is well within its rights to reject the whole premise.
That’s not to say the outcome is a good one. This is a grim situation where no-one wins, but if you’re looking for the real bad guy, Facebook isn’t it — not this time, at least.
If you want an example of where Facebook is a bad guy, here you go…
A new court filing shows that in 2017 COO Sheryl Sandberg had known for years there were problems with how Facebook estimated the potential reach of ads, and fixes were blocked over concerns for how much they’d impact the company’s revenue.
As TechCrunch reports:
The filing also reveals that a Facebook product manager for the “potential reach” tool warned the company was making revenue it “should never have” off of “wrong data”.
Does this count as fraud? I’ll let a court decide that, but it certainly is an example of how the online advertising runs on fuzzy numbers from adtech companies who have plenty of incentive to artificially inflate them.
And in a week where it was reported that Mark Zuckerberg once said he wanted to “inflict pain” on Apple, after Tim Cook publicly criticised Facebook’s data collection practices, it’s a reminder that Facebook is a relentlessly ruthless company.
After the almighty hoo-ha over the its new terms of service and privacy policy, WhatsApp now has some clearer messaging about what and isn’t happening.
As The Verge explains:
Most WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they can only be accessed by the people actually talking. But WhatsApp also lets users message businesses, and those messages aren’t extended the same protections. The data in business messages can be used for commercial purposes like ad targeting on Facebook, and some of them are also stored on Facebook’s servers. WhatsApp’s privacy policy was an attempt to explain that change, but many users interpreted it as WhatsApp comprising the privacy focus it was known for.
WhatsApp will soon offer a clearly laid out explanation of these changes within the app itself, ahead of the changes’ introduction on 15 May. This is a good move, but in the spirit of transparency, WhatsApp could also do with explaining exactly what data about users it does share with Facebook, and why and when, in similarly clear detail – even if that hasn’t changed with the new terms.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook Plans Smartwatch With Focus on Messaging, Health
  • Facebook rarely flags posts as false, even when they contain clear misinformation, and Trump never got flagged for false info. [The Markup]
  • Facebook hasn’t done enough to investigate its past collection of sensitive user data, a probe by the New York Department of Financial Services has found. [Wall Street Journal $$$]
  • Facebook has received another fine in Italy because it didn’t comply with an order around informing users about commercial uses of their data. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook is currently accepting blue tick verification requests from journalists in the UK. [@MattNavarra]
Twitter:
Twitter’s crowdsourced fact-checking experiment reveals problems
  • If it was up to Bill Gates, Donald Trump would be allowed back on Twitter. [CNBC]
  • Look out for fake cats on Twitter. A.I-generated cats are said to be part of Turkish bot ring. [Motherboard]
TikTok:
TikTok hit with consumer, child safety and privacy complaints in Europe
  • The US may force TikTok into an outright sale, rather than a partnership with Oracle. That’s according to one Fox Business reporter. [@CGasparino]
  • TikTok has announced a multi-year content partnership with mixed martial arts brand UFC. [Adweek $$$]
And the rest:
Clubhouse in China: Is the data safe?
  • Triller has denied it inflated its usage stats by millions of monthly users, after not denying the accusation earlier in the week 🤔. [The Wrap]
  • Parler is back online. The ‘free speech’ app is only available via the web, with the promise of more moderation of users. [The Verge]
  • Clubhouse has been downloaded more than 8m times worldwide, according to new App Annie data. [TechCrunch]
  • An NYC photographer passed himself off as Brad Pitt for hours on Clubhouse, before finally coming clean. [Forbes]
  • Pinterest continues to grow, reporting a 37% increase in monthly active users over the past quarter. [Search Engine Journal]
  • Reddit has a big spam problem, its latest transparency report shows. [TechCrunch]
  • YouTube is permanently closing its ‘Creator Spaces,’ arguing it can reach more people through pop-up and virtual events. [The Verge]
  • 59m people used Snapchat’s AR tools during the Super Bowl, Snap says. [Social Media Today]
  • The UK’s first football hate crime officer has turned his focus to abuse via social media. [The Guardian]
  • Facebook and Google apps still dominate the amount of time spent in mobile apps in the USA. [Axios]
  • American actors union SAG-AFTRA has voted to accept online influencers into its ranks. [Axios]
  • The Big Issue has partnered with LinkedIn to help vendors keep selling during pandemic [Campaign $$$]
  • An influencer training academy has been accused of copying another influencer “word for word, or just slightly changed.” [BuzzFeed News]
  • The ‘All Your Base Are Belong to Us’ meme video is 20 years old 😳 [Ars Technica]
🔨 Tool of the week
frameshift
📈 Chart of the week
Paul Graham
Reddit is unique in social media. 15 years after launching, it still hasn't peaked. https://t.co/QNl5T7vNqZ
🔍 Insights
  • Facebook Audience Network has released new resources for app developers and publishers, including gaming monetization guides, and learning tools. [Adweek $$$]
  • Facebook has shared new information about maximising the reach of your videos. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn has launched a digital magazine offering marketing tips and notes. [Social Media Today]
  • YouTube has launched ‘Shorts Reports,’ a regular series of guides to producing content in the new short-form format. [Search Engine Journal]
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook Creator Studio is testing a new UI design. [@MattNavarra]
  • Creator Studio now lets you customise a Facebook post and Instagram post’s text when cross posting and scheduling. [@JackHorwood]
  • Facebook now offers UK job hunting tips, in a partnership with the government. [@alexvoica]
  • Facebook has expanded its Climate Science Information Center to serve 12 new countries, it will also label posts about climate change in the UK with links to reliable information on the issue. [The Verge]
  • Instagram is testing ‘green screen’ mode in the wild. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is working on a new ‘Color filter’ camera mode for Stories. [@Satyam_sinha_]
  • Instagram link previews not working in iMessage? The bug is being fixed. [Mashable]
  • New information has emerged about Instagram’s affiliate feature for creators and advertisers. [@alex193a]
  • Apple Music is testing song lyric cards for sharing to Instagram Stories. [MacRumors]
  • Oculus is rolling out multi-user accounts and app sharing for Quest devices. [Facebook newsroom]
  • The Oculus Quest 2 could get a 120Hz refresh rate, according to a hint from Andrew Bosworth. [UploadVR]
  • Twitter voice DMs are now being tested in India, as well as Brazil and Japan. [Android Central]
  • Twitter has been spotted seemingly testing moderation of verified accounts via some decidedly non-real looking test accounts. [@LiamODellUK]
  • Twitter continues to test Spaces in the wild, sharing its findings for feedback. [Social Media Today]
Twitter has shared its plans for Spaces updates.
Twitter has shared its plans for Spaces updates.
  • Twitter is introducing the ability to restrict whether people can DM you in response to individual fleets. [@alex193a]
  • Twitter Birdwatch has a new feed showing Tweets that have at least one note rated helpful by others. [@Birdwatch]
  • Twitter is building new ways of promoting Revue, such as a promotional banner. [@alex193a]
  • TikTok has launched ‘Shop Seller University’ and an affiliate dashboard. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn has launched a ‘Sales Insights’ feature that provides real-time data on business opportunities. [VentureBeat]
  • LinkedIn is working on a creator programme to help it get a foot in the creator economy. [Axios]
  • Reddit has rolled out a bunch of redesigned elements this month. [Adweek $$$]
  • YouTube has outlined feature updates coming this year. They include a US launch for Shorts next month and an ‘auto-add chapters’ feature. [YouTube blog]
  • YouTube will soon launch an ‘applause’ button that lets viewers ‘tip’ money to creators for their pre-recorded videos. [Mashable]
  • YouTube is adding new tools to let creators compare their videos’ performance over time. [Search Engine Journal]
  • YouTube seems to be testing a new ‘Create’ button, possibly to do with its Shorts format. [@MattNavarra]
  • YouTube TV for Android will soon offer video downloading, for offline viewing. [9to5Google]
  • Lego has released a new app which is like a kid-safe version of TikTok. [Gizmodo]

📖 Weekend reading
Clubhouse goes global
💀 Meme of the week
Headphones on if you’re around kids or colleagues: NSFW! 👇
That’s via workinsocialtheysaid on Instagram.
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📅 Back next week...
This is the bit where each week I try to think of a new way to say you’ve reached the end of the newsletter and it’s time to go home. Did I do okay this week?

🏠 CLUBHOUSE REMINDER
Join me on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 19 FEB) at 4PM GMT / 11AM ET / 8AM PT for Geekout Weekly. Bring your own drinks :)

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Goodbye, geeks!
— Matt

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