Social Web Recap 10.07.17
A weekly annotated one-two sentence summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.
In a smart update to Instagram Stories, users can now reply to a story with a photo or video. By tapping a new camera icon, while watching a friend's story, users can comment visually, still add face filters, stickers and hashtags as well as a new story 'sticker' that "you can move around and resize."
Word has it that Facebook is working on a Houseparty look-alike, an app popular among teens that "notifies a user’s friends whenever they have the app open, inviting them to hang out virtually on their smartphones." Possibly called 'Bonfire', it could be released as early as this fall.
Techcrunch reports that "Snapchat is breaking its long-standing “no links” rule today while also providing some novel new creative tools to keep it one step ahead of Instagram." Website links can now be added to a Snap "that friends can swipe up to open in Snapchat’s internal browser" using its new 'Paperclip' feature. (The benefits to brands and others of being able to push people organically from the app to their mobile websites is obvious.) Something Snapchat is calling 'Backdrops' will now let users "cut out an object from your Snap and put a colorful or artsy pattern behind it to make it stick out." And new 'Voice Filters' lets users "remix the sound of voices in your Snaps."
More a policy than platform change, but Snapchat appears to be souring on 'influencers'. Yuyu Chen reports in Digiday that a so-called influencer was told by a Snapchat executive that “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.” As Chen says "Snapchat seems to take the view that catering to influencers, who are often hawking brands’ wares, could hurt the app’s appeal to its core users." Sounds about right: I have no problem with Snapchat's sentiment.
The Razor's Edge
Since the news from the major platforms this past week was a little thin—summer torpor?—here are a few articles/posts that offer thoughtful analyses on social media strategies for engaging people in social and political activism . . . or simply changing minds.
- European digital publisher Axel Spring took a close look at WhatsApp as a potential editorial format to engage 18- to 22-year-olds in politics. Their findings about WhatsApp were inconclusive, although a corollary project of trying a classical TV streaming format on Facebook simply didn't work.
- Krystal D'Costa, in Scientific American of all places, argues that advertising campaigns have a lot to teach about how to challenge political propaganda, and fracture confirmation bias in social media—using simple messages repeated frequently while preventing target audiences from hearing anything else. But she warns: "The goal should not be conversion but doubt. If doubt exists, there is a small chance the consumer will try another brand—or in this case, another perspective. And while it may not erase more toxic ideologies completely, it may open the door to a more nuanced shade of grey."
- But governments and other pernicious social actors are way ahead of Ms D'Costa, as reported in a nine country study run by the University of Oxford that found ‘the lies, the junk, the misinformation’ of traditional propaganda, is widespread online and ‘supported by Facebook or Twitter’s algorithms’. The study authors called on Facebook and Twitter to do much more to prevent the propaganda-driven manipulation of public opinion.