New Facebook and Instagram Updates Mimic TikTok’s Model

Meta Platforms is adjusting Facebook’s algorithms to offer more discovery and personalization features, according to the company. Users will now automatically land on a Home tab instead of the old News Feed. A revamped Feed will emphasize videos, photos and algorithmically curated posts. While observers have been quick to label the change yet another attempt to chase TikTok’s addictive, influencer-driven feed, Meta assures users this doesn’t mean goodbye to friends and family. “You can curate a Favorites list of the friends and Pages you care about most and filter their content in this new tab,” the company says. Continue reading New Facebook and Instagram Updates Mimic TikTok’s Model

Video Emerges as Killer Social App, Everyone Chasing TikTok

Meta and Snap both appear to have re-focused their social media strategies on video, leading to speculation they’re chasing TikTok, famously the U.S.’s “most downloaded app of 2021,” which at 94 million handily topped the 64 million of the second most popular, Meta’s Instagram. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts last week that even though Instagram’s Reels is the company’s most rapidly growing format, “we also have a competitor that is compounding at a pretty quick rate, too.” ByteDance’s TikTok, Zuckerberg said, “continues to grow at quite a fast rate off of a very large base.” Continue reading Video Emerges as Killer Social App, Everyone Chasing TikTok

Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

Twitter has earned praise for transparency after it published “unflattering” research findings. The company analyzed “millions of Tweets” in an attempt to measure how its recommendation algorithms handle political content, and subsequently reported that it amplifies more content from right-wing politicians and media outlets than from left-wing sources. The findings, which were released in late October, were well-received at a time when social platforms are fast to tout positive findings, but quickly discredit critical data, as was the case with Facebook and whistleblower Frances Haugen. Continue reading Twitter Earns Praise for Transparency in Its Research Findings

Automated News Feed May Be Good for Facebook and Users

Facebook’s internal experiments with turning off its News Feed algorithm revealed that users benefit from the often-controversial ranking system. Documents recently parsed by the news media indicate Facebook’s digital formula knows more about what users want than the users themselves when it comes to deciding which posts people see and in what order. The news comes as both the House of Representatives and Senate consider bills that would require social media platforms to offer users the option of disabling what’s known as “automated content recommendations.” The bills follow whistleblower allegations that Facebook’s News Feed is damaging to users. Continue reading Automated News Feed May Be Good for Facebook and Users

Premium Twitter Blue Now Available in U.S. and New Zealand

The premium service Twitter Blue is opening to users in the U.S. and New Zealand, after having launched this summer in Australia and Canada. The Blue program is available for $2.99 per month on iOS, Android and the web. Blue subscribers gain a range of features, including the ability to undo tweets within 30 seconds of posting, categorizing saved tweets into topical bookmark folders, using a reader mode for turning threads into easy-reading text, and adding a custom range of app icons. Additional features available only to iOS users include mobile color themes, a customizable navigation bar, and the ability to pin conversations. Continue reading Premium Twitter Blue Now Available in U.S. and New Zealand

Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech

Although Facebook leadership has suggested that artificial intelligence will solve the company’s challenge to keep hate speech and violent content at bay, AI may not be a thoroughly effective near-term solution. That evaluation comes as part of a new examination of internal Facebook documents that allegedly indicate the social media company removes only a small percentage — quantified as low-single-digits — of posts deemed to violate its hate-speech rules. Algorithmic uncertainty as to whether content violates the rules results only in that it is fed to users less frequently, rather than flagged for further scrutiny. Continue reading Facebook Said to Inflate AI Takedown Rates for Hate Speech

Facebook Rolls Out Its ‘Reels’ Video Format for Mobile Users

Facebook is rolling out its short-form video feature, Reels, to all iOS and Android users in the U.S. Intended to counter the increasingly popular TikTok, creators can use Reels to generate within Facebook content of up to 30 seconds using in-app editing tools for music, audio, AR filters and other effects. The feature was deployed in beta last month. Instagram introduced its own version of Reels last year, allowing videos of up to 60 seconds. Facebook also debuted a bonus program to pay creators for Reels views as part of its previously announced initiative to pay creators $1 billion through 2022. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Its ‘Reels’ Video Format for Mobile Users

Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Facebook Goes Live with Audio Rooms, Announces Podcasts

On June 21, Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms became available to “public figures and select Facebook Groups” in the United States. The company also released its first batch of podcasts to U.S. listeners, including “The Joe Budden Podcast;” “Carefully Reckless,” with Jess Hilarious from the Black Effect Podcast Network and iHeartRadio; “LadyGang,” with Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin and Jac Vanek, from PodcastOne; and Nicaila Matthews Okome’s “Side Hustle Pro.” People can listen to some podcasts on their Facebook Pages or News Feed. Continue reading Facebook Goes Live with Audio Rooms, Announces Podcasts

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

When Facebook launched Groups in 2019, it was intended to be, per chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the “heart of the app.” This last August, however, its own data scientists warned about “blatant misinformation and calls to violence” in the site’s top “civic” Groups. Facebook was aware of the problems for years but accelerated plans to make actual changes after rioters broke into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Groups in question, dedicated to politics, together reached “hundreds of millions of users.” Continue reading Facebook Plans Changes to Groups, Controls for Advertisers

Facebook Streams Free-to-Play Games via Its Cloud Service

After beta-testing with 200,000 users, Facebook debuted a cloud gaming service for Android and the web, providing smaller free-to-play games such as “Asphalt 9: Legends,” “PGA TOUR Golf Shootout,” “Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale” and “Mobile Legends: Adventure.” Over time, the social media giant plans to add more games, which can be found in its Gaming section. In conjunction and to remind people about the new games, Facebook is also introducing “cloud playable ads,” derived from games’ native code. Continue reading Facebook Streams Free-to-Play Games via Its Cloud Service

Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

Facebook has launched Facebook Campus, a return to its genesis in chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard University dorm room. Students can be part of Facebook Campus by using their school email addresses to create profiles that will only be visible to other students at their college or university. The site will allow students to join groups, participate in classroom discussions and find school events. A Facebook spokeswoman said the new site will not have advertising and that the company has no plans to offer ads in the future. Continue reading Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

Facebook Teams with Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos

In a direct challenge to Google’s YouTube, Facebook introduced licensed music videos to its platform earlier this month. The videos are accessible by genre, artist and mood from a new section in Facebook Watch and are also available via Facebook artist pages. The social network is partnering with publishers including Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, Merlin and others with licensing deals similar to those already established with YouTube. Meanwhile, YouTube Music is expanding its features as Google gets ready to shut down its Play Music app. Continue reading Facebook Teams with Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos