Social Web Recap 05.03.18
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.
It surprised many of my students to learn that in Canada Instagram is only the sixth most used social media platform. They expected it to rank first or second. But as this study from the Ryerson University Social Media Lab, released last Monday, points out Instagram moves up to second place when only users aged 18-24 (the age of most of the students) are considered and, of those, women with an Instagram account far outweigh the number of men using the platform.
The code sleuths at TechCrunch have uncovered code files that suggest Instagram may soon be going after another Snapchat feature—voice and video calling—from within its Direct messaging system. As TechCrunch notes, "The addition of voice and video calling would make Instagram a better chat alternative to Snapchat, which first launched video calling in 2014 and enhanced the feature with easier access plus audio and video notes in 2016."
Mashable's Kerry Flynn is reporting that Snapchat is quietly testing a hands-free mode, and a full-body AR camera as an "update to its world lens feature, where users can use augmented reality to add digital animations to their surroundings." The hands-free mode lets users take up to 60 seconds of video without having to hold down the record button for the duration of the recording. Still in beta, it would be surprising if hands-free didn't become a permanent feature of the platform having been on users' wish list for quite some time.
Last week Twitter launched a long-awaited bookmarking feature for saving tweets for later reading. Twitter describes 'Bookmarks' as "an easy way to save Tweets for quick access later." 'Bookmark' can be accessed through a new 'share' icon (which also facilitates sharing via Direct Message or off-platform).
Facebook is dropping an idea it had been testing in six countries to create two different News Feeds: one for friends and family and another for posts from brand and news pages. It's sticking with updates announced earlier that prioritize what it calls "meaningful social interactions."
Think that Facebook's Messenger' app is going to remain free of intrusive merchant content for much longer? Well, 'fuggetaboutit'. TechCrunch reports that Facebook is testing a self-serve broadcast tool that works like this: "Using the Messenger Broadcast Composer, small businesses with no coding skills can choose a subset of people who’ve messaged them to hit with a text blast. They write up a title and body text, add an image and select a call to action, like a button people can hit to visit their website or a choice of pre-written replies."
Some people may see a notification in their News Feed about Facebook's facial recognition features. The notice is apparently necessary because Facebook is now using facial recognition technology to search for faces a user isn't tagged in (except in countries with tighter privacy restrictions like Canada). According to The Verge's Russel Brandom, "Users with further questions are directed to a privacy page with more information and more detailed instructions for opting out of the system."
YouTube is adding chat replay to YouTube live streaming. You can now "follow the conversation even after a live stream is over. Live chat replays will show up alongside the video, exactly as it appeared live." The move testifies to the thriving live streaming world as people continue to look for authentic interaction with creators, brands and/or politicians.
Last week's social web rumbling and grumbling focused on a three-year-old app called Vero, which gained surprising new life, growing from 150,00 downloads to three million last week, in large part because of dissatisfaction with Instgram's flight to the algorithm. But as quickly as people signed up for the glitch-filled app, carping pundits uncovered some disturbing background about the app's CEO, and questionable privacy settings (that the app quickly withdrew) . The story isn't over. For the best summary of what's going on read Casey Newton at The Verge.