Social Web Update 24.12.18
A weekly annotated curation of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts.
Love the Numbers
Statista: The Statistics Portal reported in November that revenue in Canada’s social media advertising segment amounts to US$2,279m in 2018, and that “revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2018-2023) of 20.8%, resulting in a market volume of US$5,872m by 2023.”
A couple of Facebook announcements on the weekend of December 15th undermined my claim to rigorous curation artistry. I missed the “addition of a web browser, plus some of Messenger’s Instant Games like Battleship, Draw Something, Sudoku and Words With Friends” to Facebook’s smart display video chat screen called Portal (which isn’t setting sales records as yet). Nick Statt at The Verge commented that the new web browser “opens up the devices to a proper version of YouTube, Facebook.com, and any number of other news and entertainment sites. (Portal could access YouTube before, but only its rudimentary smart TV version.)”
Facebook has been investing heavily in making its Messenger app a robust competitor with other mobile messaging apps like Snapchat, Viber and its own WhatsApp. Last week it added “native support for looping Boomerang videos . . . a Selfie mode that automatically blurs out the background, and an augmented reality feature that lets you place Messenger’s stickers in your photos and videos.”
It will be some time before it’s available, but Bloomberg is reporting that “Facebook Inc. is working on making a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money on its WhatsApp messaging app, focusing first on the remittances market in India, according to people familiar with the matter. . . . The company is developing a stablecoin -- a type of digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar -- to minimize volatility, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal plans. “
For better or worse, Twitter has redeemed the reverse chronological feed favored by Twitter old timers (like me). The algorithmic timeline has given Twitter more business options to push ‘preferred’ content and, Twitter says, has helped increase conversation and driven more growth, hence its resistance. But many users prefer to feel they’re getting an immediate, not curated, read on the internet’s news. Twitter’s solution is the ‘sparkle’ button and “it sits in the top right of your screen allowing users to essentially temporarily disable ‘Top Tweets’ and enjoy a pure reverse chronological Twitter feed.” The catch? It will have the chronological feed will have to be re-enabled periodically.
In its usual breathless and cloying fashion, Instagram announced it is adding new ways to interact with friends: “You can now use the questions sticker for music recommendations in Stories or to connect in the moment with people you follow on Live. You’ll also see a new interactive sticker in Stories that lets you count down to exciting moments together with your friends.”
Snapchat lobbed another feature into the social web challenge market with ‘Lens Challenges’; that is, “themed challenges that incorporate a special Snapchat Lens, which can then be featured for the app’s community. The first challenge, which launches today, is tied into the holiday season. Snapchat users can select a specific Lens that will allow them to sing a version of ‘Jingle Bells’ performed by Gwen Stefani.” The things people will do to have ‘fun’.
For what it’s worth from TechCrunch, “WhatsApp is making group calls easier with a change to the way its mobile app works. Before, users would have to start a 1:1 video call, then add participants – there wasn’t an option to begin a group call at once, the company says. Now, the design has been updated so you can start group calls with just a couple of taps.”
(Not platform update news but TechCrunch pointed out last week that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is abetting the spread of illegal child pornography and “Without the necessary number of human moderators, the disturbing content is slipping by WhatsApp’s automated systems. “)