Social Media Update 22.07.19
A weekly annotated curation of significant social media platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.
Love the Numbers
I hesitated adding this Pew Research Center chart from last week since it doesn’t speak directly to this blog’s preoccupations. But it likely supports the claim that social media contributes uniquely to the toxicity of public debate about political and social issues . . . more than just the mephitic tweets of an imbecilic U.S. president and the Trump apologists at Fox News can be blamed for the vulgarity of right-wing public discourse.
Whether you like it or not (no opting out allowed), Twitter has redesigned its desktop user experience to more closely match how the app appears on mobile. The Verge reports that “The biggest, most noticeable change is that the top navigation bar has been moved to the left sidebar, which contains bookmarks, lists, your profile, and a new explore tab.”
You will have undoubtedly seen those sometime puzzling “This Tweet is unavailable” notices on Twitter. Thankfully Twitter will soon start to provide more information about the reason for the notices. Notes The Verge: “Tweets can be unavailable for a variety of reasons: they might contain a keyword that you’ve muted, an account’s tweets could be protected, or a tweet may have been deleted.”
TechCrunch is also noting a test by Twitter of “a new way to make conversation threads easier to follow” by adding special icons to the conversation: “If the original poster replies somewhere in the thread, their tweet will have a small microphone icon next to their profile picture. Other tweets may be labeled, as well — including those from users who were mentioned in the original tweet and replies from people you’re already following on Twitter.”
Instagram is extending its policy of disabling accounts with a certain percentage of violating content to include “removing accounts with a certain number of violations within a window of time.” It is also “introducing a new notification process to help people understand if their account is at risk of being disabled. This notification will also offer the opportunity to appeal content deleted.”
After limiting initial testing to Canada, “Instagram is giving more users the option to publicly hide the like count on their posts” adding Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand to the test geographies. Public like counts are the way users compare the relative ‘value’ or popularity of videos and photos. Instagram has said it wants to encourage followers to ‘focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.’
A number of tweaks are being tested at TikTok . . . which is apparently trying to avoid the stasis that hit Snapchat in its early days when it got so enamoured of its growth stats that it got too comfortable with its initial features and design. TNW reports “serial leaker” (its description) Jan Manchun Wong has identified three new features being tested in the popular short-form video app: A ‘Discover’ tab for introducing new content. (“The Discover tap sits left of the upload button, where the Search function used to reside.”); A new shortcut to the WhatsApp shortlist of friends already a feature of the TikTok app; New icons “that show the number of times videos have been downloaded and liked; And a feature that lets TikTokers link their profile to their Google and Facebook accounts.
Changes to Facebook’s News Feed ad specifications will see the amount of text and the image size shrink, “which marketers say should improve ad copy overall but would be burdensome.” Specifically according to Digiday: “Facebook ads placed in mobile will only show three lines of text, compared to the seven that could previously be viewed. Facebook users can click to show more. Photos and videos will have a 4:5 aspect ratio, at most, compared to the previous 2:3.”