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Geekout Newsletter
Issue #30 • View online
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Hello, geeks!
Before we get started… Follow this Instagram account. Trust me, you’ll love it 😂… Correction, I mean 💀
I am feeling pretty chuffed this week. The lovely people at Revue (the tool, now owned by Twitter, used to make this newsletter) featured me on their homepage in relation to this newsletter. Facebook’s @Messenger account on Twitter posted this tweet about the Geekout newsletter. AND we’re fast approaching 10,000 subscribers! WTF! 🙂
HIDDEN GEM | ThreadMaker (iOS) - A handy little app to help take your Twitter threads to the next level
It’s been another week dominated by one word, one app: Clubhouse. You know it’s hit a tipping point when your parents ask “What’s Clubhouse?”. This week saw a few famous faces make an appearance on the platform. More on that below!

DID YOU SEE…?

DON’T MISS THIS…! I’m speaking at an awesome social media event later this month. Unite2021 is a 24-HOUR long online event, jam-packed full of big-name speakers from the world of social. The event also features 40+ LIVE workshops for top experts to level up your social media marketing skills. TIP: Get an EXCLUSIVE Geekout super-discounted All-Access Pass with this link! (Only £37 / $50!)

More weird, funny, and (maybe) useful stuff I spotted this week:
Right… Let’s do the serious, sensible bit. On with this week’s big news stories…
— Matt

P.S. 🏠 Join us on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 5 FEB) at 11AM ET / 8AM PT / 4PM UK in our Geekout Weekly room!

🚨 Everyone's talking about...
It seems Clubhouse just keeps getting hotter, and this week was when it became clear how it could become a big deal with mainstream users.
With just a few hours’ advance notice, Elon Musk appeared live on the popular ‘Good Time’ show earlier this week. He even made news by chatting to Robinhood’s CEO about his company’s recent controversy in what must have been a pre-planned PR drive to help Robinhood get their message out without being asked difficult questions by journalists.
Then yesterday, Perez Hilton had a chilled-out chat with Lindsay Lohan. While Lohan isn’t quite a Hollywood megastar star these days, the event showed how the app could allow for impromptu celebrity appearances that you have to listen into or miss forever.
For social media geeks like you and me, that was made even more clear by Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise appearance on the Good Time show a few hours ago. He chatted about AR and VR alongside fellow Facebooker Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth.
In a time when it seems everything you could want to consume is available on demand, having something you have one chance to catch is weirdly refreshing. Clubhouse’s ‘no recording’ rule can be frustrating if you want people to listen back to your discussion later, but it creates a sense of ‘be there or miss out’ scarcity that celebrities and their fans could find very appealing indeed.
Authoritarians around the world are increasingly clamping down on social media these days, and the latest example was particularly chilling.
The short version: India ordered Twitter to suspend accounts that were critical of the country’s government. Twitter complied but then quickly reversed its decision after facing blowback from people all over the world. Now the Indian government is threatening Twitter’s local staff with fines or up to seven years in jail if the accounts are suspended again.
This puts Twitter in a tough spot: comply and appear to be in league with authoritarians (not a good look to its users in many parts of the world, including celebrities like Rihanna who have spoken out this week against India’s treatment of farmers), or risk its own employees being locked up.
I recently noted that Turkey’s ‘comply or die’ approach to social media regulation was a worrying playbook (see issue 28), and now we’re seeing something similar play out further east.
Things are still no less chaotic at troubled ‘free speech’ startup Parler. The company’s CEO John Matze now says he was fired by the board because he wanted to moderate the platform to stop extremist hate groups and domestic terrorists from posting.
By Matze’s telling, Parler complying with the kinds of rules that would get it back on popular app stores was a step too far, and he was given the boot. 🤔
Parler itself disputes this claim, but there’s no getting away from the fact that if it wants to be anything more than a glorified web forum, it’s going to have to play by Apple and Google’s rules.
👀 ICYMI...
Stories you need to know about:
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:
Facebook Knew Calls for Violence Plagued ‘Groups,’ Now Plans Overhaul
  • Facebook has been accused of using “disinformation” in its campaign against Apple’s iOS 14 privacy features. [Apple Insider]
  • Got thoughts about Facebook’s ban on Trump? The Oversight Board wants to hear them by Monday. [Forbes]
  • Facebook still profits from vaccine misinformation, according to a Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigation. [The Guardian]
  • A spyware vendor has seemingly made a fake version of WhatsApp to hack targets. [Motherboard]
  • Reports of fraud on Instagram are up 50% in the UK since the pandemic began. [BBC News]
  • CNN has quit Facebook Watch in favour of its own platform for its daily ‘Go There’ news show. [Variety]
  • WhatsApp used its status message feature to tell users it is committed to privacy. [The Verge]
Twitter:
  • Twitter’s Birdwatch is releasing daily data to help researchers, journalists, and others keep an eye on how well the new misinformation-monitoring feature is working. [@birdwatch]
  • Banning Donald Trump hasn’t affected overall Twitter usage levels, according to new data. [Big Technology]
  • But Trump is reportedly so frustrated by his Twitter ban that’s he writes out insults for aides to tweet. [Insider $$$]
  • Elon Musk made headlines by quitting Twitter. And then again by coming back less than two days later 🙄. [The Independent]
TikTok:
TikTok will prompt users when videos are flagged as misleading
  • TikTok will recheck the age of every Italian user following the recent death of a 10-year-old girl. [TechCrunch]
  • Ad industry giant WPP has partnered with TikTok to give its clients access to a tighter relationship between the two companies. [WPP]
  • TikTok owner ByteDance has sued Chinese rival Tencent over alleged monopolies. [AdAge]
  • A 110-year-old singer has gone viral on TikTok. [BBC News]
And the rest:
  • Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok joined forces to take down a hacker community who stole single-word usernames. [New York Times $$$]
  • Reddit tracks bad behaviour among users with a ‘daily active s***heads’ metric. [CNBC]
  • Substack’s co-founder says it’s a good thing that Facebook and Twitter are getting into the newsletter market in competition with him. [Substack blog]
  • Influencers have been warned not to use misleading filters on platforms like Instagram. The UK Advertising Standards Authority could take action against paid posts that do so. [BBC News]
  • Police are investigating racist abuse of football players on social media. [The Guardian]
  • YouTube revenue was up 46% to almost $7 billion in 2020. [Insider]
  • YouTube claims new UK licensing proposals are so complex they could force it to block music content in the country. [The Guardian]
  • The price of silver surged as investors active on Reddit turned their attentions to commodities. [BBC News]
  • Snapchat’s TikTok rival feature is a success. Snap says Spotlight already has 100 million monthly users. [The Verge]
  • Vaccine selfies are a social media hit. [The Guardian]
  • An influencer claims she made the Hollywood sign say ‘Hollyboob’ in protest against Instagram ‘censorship’. [CNet]
❓ Question of the week
With celebrities starting to take to Clubhouse, I asked who you’d like to see on the app. Some interesting names suggested!
Matt Navarra
The person you'd most like to listen to on Clubhouse?
🔨 Tool of the week
Otter.ai for Google Meet
🐣 Tweet of the week
Have I Got News For You
Dubai added to UK travel ban list, as part of major push to stop Instagram influencers coming back.
🔍 Insights
  • Twitter has published a 2021 marketing calendar to help you plan out your campaigns. [Social Media Today]
  • Facebook has offered tips to improve your visuals with Instagram tools. [Social Media Today]
  • Here’s a useful database of the major influencer mansions and who lives in them. [Insider $$$]
  • K-pop was huge on Twitter in 2020. [Adweek $$$]
  • How The Washington Post’s new Instagram editor will try to boost its subscription business. [Digiday $$$]
  • 61% of Snapchatters plan to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, a Snap study has found. The same number expect to use the app as they watch. [Adweek $$$]
📲 Quick hits
Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:
  • Facebook is testing a new prompt that asks users to allow tracking, ahead of Apple’s upcoming tracking opt-in launch. [9to5Mac]
  • Facebook is developing a tool that will help advertisers avoid being placed next to news topics that are bad for their brands. [Axios]
  • Facebook is changing ‘Units’ in Groups to be called Guides. This change will roll out soon. [@MattNavarra]
  • Facebook unveiled a special logo to mark Black History Month. [@facebookapp]
  • Facebook marked its 17th birthday with a custom ‘Friends Day’ wordmark. [@alexvoica]
  • Facebook is still testing an option to let users share their Instagram Reels to Facebook Watch. [Social Media Today]
  • Instagram is adding a “Recently Deleted” post recovery feature. [The Verge
  • Instagram is working on letting you browse Stories vertically, TikTok-style. [TechCrunch]
  • Instagram is publicly testing its new FAQ feature. [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram is testing a ‘featured music’ section for Stories, [@MattNavarra]
  • Instagram has been spotted letting users create a promotion right after posting. [@thebkh]
  • Instagram’s @shop account has published a Velentine’s Day gift guide. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Messenger is coming to Oculus so you can ping your friends in VR. [Messenger News]
Messenger in VR [Credit: Facebook]
Messenger in VR [Credit: Facebook]
  • Messenger has launched Super Bowl-themed stickers and filters. [Messenger News]
  • Oculus is launching a way for developers to give early access to their VR apps. [The Verge]
  • Twitter’s Newsletters tab has been spotted in the wild. It’s just a link to Revue for now. [TechCrunch]
  • Twitter is working on an option to send a screenshot of a tweet via WhatsApp. [@alex193a]
  • It turns out you can trick TikTok into letting you post movie-length videos by editing their metadata. [Motherboard]
  • TikTok is now available on Android TV… but it may not work for everyone. [Android Central]
  • A branded ‘2D’ effect has launched on TikTok, tying into Doritos’ Super Bowl ad. [Adweek $$$]
  • YouTube’s sports homepage has been revamped with a more personalized experience. [Android Police]
The revamped YouTube Sports
The revamped YouTube Sports
  • Love Super Bowl ads, hate the game? YouTube will help you out. [Slashgear]
  • YouTube will have a different logo every day this month to mark Black History Month. [9to5Google]
  • Reddit’s iOS app has a new video player but it’s proving unpopular with users. [XDA Developers]
  • A new Snapchat ‘Voice Scan’ feature for AR effects is showing up for some users. [@KenSchillinger]
  • Uber Eats has a Super Bowl promotion on Snapchat that lets users become the characters from fondly-remembered 90s comedy Wayne’s World. [Adweek $$$]
  • Snapchat has rolled out black excellence Bitmoji, creative tools, and lenses for Black History Month. [AdWeek $$$]
  • Signal has been updated with wallpapers, animated stickers and more. [Slashgear]
  • Flickr has added an iOS homescreen widget to display images from the app’s Explore section. [9to5Mac]

📖 Weekend reading
Families Torn Apart by Decades of War Are Finally Finding Each Other—on Facebook
💀 Meme(s) of the week
Credit for these goes to @workinsocialtheysaid on Instagram (you should follow this account!).
📅 Back next week...
Get the hell outta here, you filthy animal :) You’re done!

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🏠 REMINDER!
JOIN ME on Clubhouse TODAY (FRI 29 JAN) at 4PM GMT / 11AM ET / 8AM PT for Geekout Weekly!

Goodbye, geeks!
— Matt
This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.
Copyright 2021: Matt Navarra Media Ltd
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