Social Web Recap 11.12.17
A weekly annotated short summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.
The chart speaks for itself: Brands have seen Instagram's popularity and are trampling over each other to win eyes and wallets on the photo-sharing app.
Speaking of Instagram, the big news last week was Instagram's announcing it will now allow users to group stories into Stories Highlights and featuring them in a new section of their profiles— collections of your past Stories. As Instagram explains it: "To create a highlight, tap the 'New' circle at the far left. From there, you can choose any stories from your archive, select a cover for your highlight and give it a name. " These highlights will stay there until you remove them.
Also from Instagram, testing is underway in a few countries of a standalone app for private messages called Direct, which would mean removing messaging functionality from inside the core app. But Raymond Wong in Mashable, for one, raised some questions about how much use it would get: "I can't speak for everyone, but based on conversations I've had with several friends and colleagues who are prolific Instagram users, they share the same view that their use of messaging in Instagram is very closely tied to Stories."
If Instagram's news was the 'biggest', Facebook's announcement of a new app for children 13 years old and under called Messenger Kids was the most controversial. Kids will need their parents to set up the account and approve adding any new contacts. But some pointed out it "puts the company in an interesting new sphere of responsibility". And a few U.S. politicians see privacy and security concerns and have demanded of Facebook that it reveal "what data it’s collecting about its new, young users, and what it’s planning to do with it."
As a corollary to the above, Kurt Wagner at ReCode reports that Facebook has an internal team (the 'Youth Team') that is specifically focused on building products and features for kids and teens." Not surprising really given the growing preference among pre-teen and teens for Instagram and Snapchat.
Adding music—legally— to Facebook and Instagram video clips got easier with the unveiling last week of a Facebook video editing tool called 'Sound Collection', which gives "access to thousands of high-quality audio tracks and sound effects from all over the world to spice up your videos. These sounds are owned by Facebook, and are free and clear to use in any videos you create and share on Facebook and Instagram."
Not a platform development per se, but any time a social network increases its efforts to eliminate extremism and block those who would use it to mislead, manipulate, harass or harm, then it's worth a shout out. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in a blog post outlined a range of measures it has taken, and will take in the future, to "to protect our community against violent or extremist content". To do so, it is "testing new systems to combat emerging and evolving threats." Of note, since June they have removed over 150,000 videos for violent extremism.
In an effort to catch up to the likes of Spotify, and appease the music industry, YouTube plans to launch a paid music service in March. According to Bloomberg "Paid services from Spotify and Apple Music have spurred a recovery in the music business, which is growing again after almost two decades of decline. Yet major record labels say the growth would be even more significant if not for YouTube, which they criticize for not compensating them enough, considering how much people use the site to listen to tunes. Music is one of the most popular genres of video on YouTube, which attracts more than a billion users a month."
Not a Twitter product, but a new app called TweetReality marries Twitter to augmented reality. Hillary Grigonis writing in Digital Trends explains that "the app takes your feed and arranges the posts into a 3D grid, arranged in the shape of one end of a sphere, which is of course overlaid with the real world around you by using the iPhone (or iPad) camera. The app allows users to tap on the tweet to view the post larger along with options to like or retweet. On the edges of that grid of tweets, TweetReality offers options to navigate to more tweets, compose your own Tweet, search or access notifications."
Pinterest is introducing a chat extension for Messenger to make it simpler to share Pins and collaborate with family and friends directly from Messenger. When you tap on the pin in Messenger Pinterest says "you’ll see a richer, more integrated experience through the chat extension which makes responding to ideas, sharing new Pins and accessing Pinterest Search and Related Pins quicker and easier than ever."