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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #40 • View online
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Hello, Geeks!
Before we get started… Watch this heart-warming Google ad. Be warned - it’s an emotional rollercoaster. ❤️
Meanwhile… In social media land, it’s been another busy week for new features, platform changes, and policy updates:
One of my favourite reads this week was this fascinating article exploring the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (@CIA) use of Twitter. The article (and the academic research it references) is all very serious, suggesting the CIA’s social media strategy is highly sophisticated and manipulative.
Having worked on social media for many big UK government departments, and knowing many of the people running big government accounts on Twitter, I couldn’t help but smile as I read this post.
It would not surprise me at all if many of the tweets this study dissects and interprets as being highly engineered, and published with a dark motive, were just a bit of fun thought up by a playful social media manager bored one Friday afternoon. 
HIDDEN GEM: Mad Men Integrated on Tumblr - (Still) the most relatable collection of GIFs for social media managers.
Coming soon… Geekout is launching a NEW weekly newsletter. It won’t (only) be about social media, but if you like the style and format of Geekout, and love all things tech, you’re going to LOVE this new newsletter launching later this spring. More details soon. Watch this space!
Before we dive into the BIG news stories this week, here are a few other things worthy of your attention:
There’s no Twitter Spaces chat this week, but it will be back!
— Matt
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🚨 Everyone's talking about...
It seems to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment: 1: user data from a social platform shows up somewhere unsavoury online. 2: staff at that social platform rush to explain that it’s really not that big a deal and people shouldn’t worry about it.
We saw this play out with Facebook and LinkedIn last week, and this week it was Clubhouse’s turn, as 1.3 million users’ names, usernames, Twitter and Instagram handles, and follower counts showed up on a hacker forum.
As the Verge explained, Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison was very keen to play the news down when asked if the platform had been hacked:
Davison said in response to a question during a town hall that the platform had not suffered a data breach. “No, This is misleading and false, it is a clickbait article, we were not hacked. The data referred to was all public profile information from our app. So the answer to that is a definitive ‘no.’”
He’s right, it is information any Clubhouse user can access by visiting users’ public profiles in the app. This stuff isn’t secret. But the way Clubhouse communicated about the incident demonstrates a lack of understanding of the issues beyond any threat to the company’s own reputation.
Like Facebook with its ‘this is old news’ response (see last week’s newsletter), Davison’s response (as quoted by the Verge) fails to show any empathy with the people whose data was taken from Clubhouse (where they intended to share it) and placed on a hacker forum (where they presumably would absolutely not want it showing up).
Tech companies may not be able to stop this ‘scraping’ of data outright, but the least they could do is show some understanding that many users won’t be happy that data they entrusted to one company has ended being hijacked by someone else.
I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time we’ll see user data scraping in the news. Just because it’s not hacking into a company’s servers, doesn’t mean it’s harmless for users.
Facebook’s Oversight Board is about to get busier. The Verge reports:
For the first six months of the Oversight Board, users could only appeal to have content restored to the platform after it had been removed by Facebook moderators. Now, the board will also hear appeals for content that Facebook moderators have left in place.
When you’ve exhausted Facebook’s own moderation process, you’ll get a reference code for the Oversight Board. If you choose, you can then ask them to take a look.
I’ve previously said that the Oversight Board gives Facebook someone to point at when difficult decisions need to be made. Being able to say ‘it was them, not us!’ means Facebook shifts at least some of the ‘blame’ for any decision off its own shoulders. The Oversight Board will be the one who will be seen to have ‘got it wrong’ even though, through being paid by Facebook for their time, its members aren’t truly independent of Facebook itself.
We’ll get a taste of this soon, when the Oversight Board’s decision about Donald Trump’s future on the platform arrives. Whatever they decide, someone will be mad at them. But how much of the public anger is directed at the board, and how much is directed at Mark Zuckerberg, will give us an idea of how useful the Oversight Board will be as a deflection tool for Facebook in the future.
We knew this was coming, but now it’s here. Instagram has started letting some users choose whether or not to include like-counts on their posts. Facebook will run a similar test soon.
Users will be able to choose between seeing no like-counts at all, switching them off for their own posts only, or keeping things as they were before.
The mental health issues around like-counts have been much discussed. Users who see likes as a measure of popularity may find it’s better for their quality of life to just switch the counters off entirely.
For the first 15 years or so of social media, much of our experience was dictated by the product development teams behind the platforms we use. But now they seem to be open to giving us more options. Just look at the ‘algorithm choice’ idea Jack Dorsey mooted recently. And Facebook itself is to give users more control over the News Feed. Announcements like these would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
This increased choice, if indeed we start to see it, will reflect just how big a part of our lives social media has become, and how when it comes to the design of these platforms, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all anymore.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens
  • Facebook is being urged to drop plans for an ‘Instagram for kids’. 35 organizations and 64 individual experts signed a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on the issue. [NBC News]
  • Ireland’s data protection regulator has opened an investigation into whether Facebook violated GDPR in relation to the recent emergence of 533m users’ data online. [TechCrunch]
  • Experts warn Facebook’s rules against denying global heating aren’t working. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Facebook is testing a video speed dating app called Sparked. It’s the latest release from the very busy NPE division. [The Verge]
  • Facebook has sued a company accused of setting up Facebook-like domain names to fool users. [Social Media Today]
  • Another database of Facebook user data is online. It’s reportedly available via a Telegram bot. [Motherboard]
  • Facebook will label posts about Covid-19 treatments that lack scientific proof, in six languages around the world. [9to5Mac]
  • Unresponsive Facebook ad reps are causing frustration for media buyers. [Digiday $$$]
  • German data regulators want to block Facebook collecting user data from WhatsApp while it investigates the impact of the app’s new terms of service. Facebook says it’s all a misunderstanding. [Bloomberg $$$]
  • Instagram has apologised for promoting diet content to users with eating disorders. [BBC News]
  • Facebook Dating appears to not be very popular compared to rivals in the market. [The Verge]
  • Facebook has removed 16,000 Groups for selling or buying fake reviews of products and services, after a complaint from the UK’s competition watchdog. [Reuters]
Twitter announces new initiative to analyse its own algorithmic choices
  • Twitter has banned Project Veritas chief James O'Keefe for violating its platform manipulation and spam policy. [TechCrunch]
TikTok’s fate in the US still up in the air as Biden admin extends review deadline to June 11
  • TikTok is now funding some publishers’ content, starting with ‘VIRAL’, a public health series from NowThis. [TechCrunch]
  • A group of Republican lawmakers want to ban TikTok on federal devices. [The Hill]
  • TikTok and Adobe have teamed up to create content to help creators improve their video editing skills. [TikTok]
And the rest:
Clubhouse rolls out payments to over 60K creators following initial test
  • Viewership on Twitch has more than doubled over the past year. [Yahoo Finance]
  • But Twitch has killed 7.5m viewing bots, which has affected some streamers follower counts. [CNet]
  • Twitch streamer Ludwig Ahgren broke the platform’s record for most paying subscribers after he streamed continuously for 31 days. [BBC News]
  • YouTuber Jake Paul has been accused of sexual assault by TikTok star Justine Paradise. He has denied the allegation. [Sky News]
  • Pakistan has temporarily banned all social media, in an effort to tackle violence in the country. [TechCrunch]
  • The FBI’s director has warned that social media plays a key part in US domestic extremism. [Wall Street Journal $$$]
  • There’s huge demand for more emoji customisation, an Adobe study has found. [9to5Mac]
❓ Question of the week
This tricky social media manager question never gets any easier to answer.
Check out the replies for inspiration…
🟣 Matt Navarra
social media managers…

what do you say when someone asks:

“so, what do you actually do?”
🐣 Tweet of the week
Okay, this is an old tweet you may well have seen before, but I was reminded of it this week reading Charlie Warzel’s great piece about the problem with Twitter trending topics.
In two sentences, the tweet sums up the problems with Twitter culture — no-one wants to be the main character of this kind of drama!
maple cocaine
Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it
🔍 Insights
Social media data, insights and reports to give you an edge at work:
  • Facebook has released a guide to the useful organic video post testing tool in Creator Studio. [Social Media Today]
  • TikTok isn’t just for young people. The company has shared details of how older users engage with the platform. [Social Media Today]
  • Advertise on TikTok? The company has published new strategy guidance, based on feedback from 25,000 users. [Social Media Today]
  • LinkedIn has published a new advertising guide to help with campaign planning. [Social Media Today]
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook has added new features to its Business Suite app, including scheduling Stories, and editing scheduled posts. [Facebook for Business]
  • Facebook will test new business discovery features in News Feed in the US. It will let users tap on topics underneath posts and ads to explore content from related businesses. [TechCrunch]
  • Facebook has pinned state vaccine information to the top of the News Feed for users in the US. [The Verge]
  • Facebook has launched a local news section in the News section of its app in the UK. [Facebook Journalism Project]
  • Facebook says it has restored many of the features in the Messenger API previously removed in Europe due to regional privacy rules. [Facebook for Developers]
  • Facebook will hold an Oculus Gaming showcase on 21 April. [Upload VR]
  • Facebook Creator Studio has split its old ‘posts’ tab into two categories: Published and Pre-published. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook is working on audio calls for Dating. [@alex193a]
  • Facebook may soon offer the ability to optimise campaign budget across platforms. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook has added volunteer features to encourage participation in Earth Day. [Social Media Today]
  • Oculus as launched a series of interactive demos on Zoom. [UploadVR]
  • Oculus Quest 2 has a bunch of new features, including wireless PC VR streaming, support for 120Hz refresh rate, and the ability to track your desk and keyboard for productivity apps. [Road to VR]
Getting some work done, the Oculus Quest 2 way. Credit: Facebook
Getting some work done, the Oculus Quest 2 way. Credit: Facebook
  • Oculus app developers can now sell subscriptions to their Quest apps and games. [The Verge]
  • Instagram continues to work on hashtag search via a map. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is developing a redesigned IGTV video player. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is working on a new chat theme that appears to tie in with TV show ‘Selena: The Series’. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram is still working on working on a ‘Collab’ sticker. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram could soon introduce a ‘Good ideas deserve to be found’ sticker, linked to a campaign in support of targeted advertising. [@alex193a]
  • Instagram appears to be testing a separate ‘Following’ feed for Reels, in addition to the main algorithmic Reels feed? [@MattNavarra]
  • WhatsApp will soon let admins control who can send self-destructing messages in group chats, as a privacy measure. [TechRadar]
  • Evidence has emerged of Facebook working on the ability to send messages to WhatsApp users from Messenger — part of the unified messaging strategy revealed two years ago. [WABetaInfo]
  • Researchers have identified a way of locking anyone out of their WhatsApp account, but it’s pretty tedious to achieve. [TNW]
  • Twitter for iOS now works better with password manager apps. [@MattNavarra]
  • Twitter is still refining the ‘undo send’ option for tweets, with an ability to set the delay duration, and the preview the tweet you were about to send. [@wongmjane]
  • Apple has launched an #AppleEvent Twitter hashflag for its event next week. [9to5Mac]
  • TikTok is working on a way to manage multiple comments at the same time. [@alex193a]
  • The first screenshot of Clubhouse for Android has been shared on Twitter. [@mopewa_o]
  • YouTube is experimenting with 15-second media literacy ads before videos to “prompt critical thinking.” [9to5Google]
  • Snapchat has rolled out AR lenses to mark a number of festivals in India. [TechRadar]
  • Snapchat has launched a project that lets users view five AR artworks placed around Los Angeles. [UploadVR]
  • LinkedIn has added job titles like stay-at-home dad, stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home parent, to help users explain gaps in their work history. [Adweek $$$]
  • Reddit has launched a public bug bounty programme. [Mac Observer]
  • Pinterest now has a private Shopping board, which is home to all your saved shopping pins. [@KenSchillinger]
  • Discord has blocked NSFW servers in its iOS app, it blames Apple’s rules for the move. [Mashable]
  • Telegram is working on two new web apps, to upgrade its dated web offering. [Android Police]
📖 Weekend reading
Can Clubhouse keep the party going?
💀 Meme of the week
📅 Back next week...
Bish. Bash. Bosh!
You are now fully updated on all things social from the past 7 days.
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Ok folks, time for me to go get my weekend started.
Enjoy yours, whatever you get up to :)
Goodbye geeks!
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2021: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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