Social Web Recap 17.07.17
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 future for Snapchat appears to be location, location, location . . . and geofilters. Partnerships with Foursquare and Factual are allowing "users to turn any nearby landmark or business into a stylized geofilter that they can overlay on their photos and videos." According to TechCrunch's Josh Constine, after launching Stories Search that shows you content from any place or event, Snap Inc. has "acquired location-based analytics and ad measurement startup Placed, reportedly for over $200 million, to prove geofilter ads lead to in-store purchases. It bought the location augmented reality and messaging patent of a startup called Drop, and a core geofilter patent from Mobli for $7.7 million. It spent around $300 million to buy French location sharing startup Zenly . . . And it used Zenly to inspire its high-potential new Snap Map feature for finding nearby friends." Safe bet that Snap Inc. is hoping location sharing will be a bulwark against the Instagram competitive onslaught.
You may not have noticed—and you won't see it on mobile—but YouTube has been steadily transforming static video thumbnails into Gifs that play three seconds of the video. For the moment, YouTube is deciding what to Gif-ize based on the length of the video (must be 30-seconds or longer) as well as topic and content.
Yes, you read right . . . Google Earth could become a social network if Google Earth director Rebecca Moore gets her way. Reuters reports that Ms. Moore, speaking at an event in Rio de Janeiro, "wants users to post millions of stories, video and photos on its Google Earth platform in the next few years . . . regular users will be able to create their own unedited content for private or public use within two to three years."
Recent modifications to Twitter will help block trolls and offensive accounts in general. You can now "mute notifications from newly registered accounts, people you don’t follow and people who don’t follow you", as well as accounts using default profile photos and unconfirmed email addresses. The filters are available on iOS and Android at the settings/gear icon under 'Notifications' . . . Evidently an especially useful retrofit if you keep slagging Trump and his army of troglodytes come after you.
The audience for this news will be small until virtual reality (VR) becomes more mainstream, but Adi Robertson in The Verge writes that "Facebook is adding a live-streaming feature to its virtual reality app Spaces. Starting today(July 12, 2017-ed.), Spaces users can position a virtual camera and stream a two-dimensional feed of themselves to people outside VR. Viewers can send reactions and comments just as they would on a normal Facebook Live video. (Streamers will see both floating in space.)" Spaces is part of Oculus Rift, which is as yet not a major player in the VR ecosystem.
In the 'say it ain't so' category, in beta since January, Facebook Messenger may soon be displaying business ads in users' home tab and between chat threads. It's hard to imagine Facebook not trying to further monetize its successful messaging platform. In fact—oh joy—it may "let you buy things straight through Messenger thanks to its in-app payment system used for peer-to-peer money transfers."
Continuing the 'Gif' theme mentioned above in the YouTube announcement, Facebook confirmed to Sarah Perez at TechCrunch that "it has begun testing a new GIF maker in the camera feature of the main Facebook mobile application. The feature, which is available with the tap of a button at the top of the screen, lets you shoot footage that you can then save in GIF format to your device’s photo gallery, post to your Facebook profile, or add to your Facebook Story."
WhatsApp has been under fire in some quarters (Electronic Frontier Foundation) for not doing enough to protect private messages from the eyes of nosey governments. In this context, a recent announcement that you can now share any file type under 100MB on the messaging platform, especially popular in Europe, may be a mixed blessing. Freia Lobo writing in Mashable sees in the update an upside for activists working under authoritarian regimes. Quoting Nathan Freitas, director of the Guardian Project, a mobile security software collective, Ms. Lobo points out that 'the ability to send uncompressed media up to 100MB, means that activists can privately share extremely high quality photos and video for human rights purposes.' But if governments can track them, what then?
According to Social Media Examiner, LinkedIn is testing a new feature with a 'small number' of mobile app users in the U.S. that enables them to natively upload videos that automatically play with the sound off in the feed. In addition to providing typical stats on these videos such as views, likes, and shares, LinkedIn" will also provide basic employment information about viewers such as 'the companies where they work and their job titles.' Expect a global launch in the fall.