This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
Facebook Suspends 200 Apps
Facebook’s doing what it can to clean house following the Cambridge Analytica data controversy.
This week Facebook suspended 200 unnamed apps that were suspected of abusing Facebook data policies. The move comes after Facebook began auditing apps in March, and currently, Facebook is focusing on apps that were approved prior to 2015. In 2015, Facebook updated its data policies to make them more restrictive and stringent.
These 200 apps will undergo further scrutiny to confirm any malicious actions.
Facebook needs to make sure another Cambridge Analytica debacle doesn’t happen again. Not necessarily because users or advertisers will walk away from Facebook because they’ve shown that they’re willing to forgive an awful lot, but because Facebook wants to avoid any more regulation.
Regulation was put on the table when Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, but no real action on that front has taken place. It may be the case that serious regulation will not be implemented, and Facebook may have just weathered the news cycle. Another controversy, however, would bring all of that to the forefront once again, making regulation an inevitability.
Snapchat’s Unskippable Ads are Here
Snapchat’s doing everything it can to cater to two audiences that don’t always see eye to eye.
First, it's redesigning its app redesign that rolled out late last year and reversing many of the original redesign’s updates to appease users.
Second, it’s working to appease advertisers with non-skippable six-second ads. These ads will be forced view, requiring users to watch, and they will appear in the middle of Snapchat Shows. Snapchat Shows are episodic video content from professional media companies like Viacom, Disney and NBCUniversal. These ads will not be showing up in Stories of the foreseeable future.
Obviously, this move is appealing to brands, which were facing average views of two seconds for their sponsored ads on Snapchat. This makes ads easier for both Snapchat and its media partners creating Shows to sell.
Now, we’ll see how users respond. Snapchat’s users revolted against the app redesign this year, and Snapchat’s now reversing course. Chances are, they won’t be too pleased with forced view ads either.
Facebook and Twitter Report Info on Hate Speech
Facebook and Twitter are taking steps to be more transparent in how they’re policing hateful content on their websites.
For its part, Facebook shared that it's working to identify how much offensive content (nudity, graphic violence, terrorist-related posts) is actually seen by its users, similar to measuring ad impressions. The goal is to give brands a better idea of how safe the platform is for brands by quantifying the chances of their ads being paired with offensive content.
Facebook has also found that users do not typically “associate ads in News Feed with adjacent content.” Of course, that finding benefits Facebook, but it did say it is looking to uncover more data about this issue.
The social network shared that identifying nudity using its artificial intelligence capabilities is more effective than identifying content like hate speech.
Twitter’s taking a slightly different approach. It’s identifying “trolls” and limiting how many people see content from accounts that exhibit troll-like behavior. Instead of deleting it or removing it, Twitter’s approach is to suppress it and limit its reach to as few people as possible, while embracing its values of free and open speech. Essentially, it’s removing their megaphone.
Facebook Expands Stories Capabilities
Facebook Stories are getting a bit more attention. Now, it’s going to start becoming as full-featured as the Stories product on Instagram.
First, users will be able to privately save their photos taken with Facebook Camera, much like Instagram’s memories feature. Facebook says this feature is meant to give users with limited phone storage a way to privately save their photos in a way that’s linked to their Facebook accounts.
Beyond that, Facebook Stories users can now share audio messages in Stories. They simply record an audio clip, choose a background to share it with, customize as they see fit and post. This is a way to use Facebook Stories without using the camera. It also taps into the popular behavior of sharing audio in countries like India.
That final point is perhaps what’s most interesting about everything Facebook’s doing with Stories. The feature has not taken off in the United States, certainly not to the extend of Instagram Stories. But Facebook appears to really be focusing on making Facebook Stories particularly attractive to markets outside the US like India.
This news is paired with the fact that Facebook Stories now has 150 million daily active users. With that scale, Facebook is starting to test ads on Facebook Stories in the United States, Mexico and Brazil.
News Quick Hits
Walmart is offering free two-day shipping for orders over $35 and without any membership fees in its latest move to go after Amazon. Walmart’s capitalizing on Amazon’s increased price for a Prime membership from $99 to $119 per year. Walmart’s positioning itself as the way to offer the speed and convenience of Prime paired with low prices.
Snapchat’s redesign of its redesign is officially rolling out. The messaging platform aims to reverse negativity among its users. Favorable measures for the platform dropped 73% since the initial redesign went into effect, according to a YouGov survey. The redesign introduced users to algorithm-ranked content based on user interests and a separation of brand content and content from friends. All of this was intended to bring more casual users onto the platform and expose existing users to more media. The redesign of the redesign reverses most of these changes with friends’ content no longer organized by an algorithm and friends’ Stories content paired with content from media properties.
Amazon is rolling out a new tool that will let merchants buy ads that retarget shoppers around the web to entice them to come back to Amazon to make a purchase. Currently, the ads are only in testing with a select group of merchants. Amazon will only charge merchants when shoppers click. Amazon’s enticing merchants by saying it will help them target people who have viewed their products or competitive ones. The news pits Amazon against Google and advertising firm Criteo in a big way. It also signals Amazon’s larger ambitions to be a major digital advertising player.
Facebook’s new blockchain division is rumored to be working on a cryptocurrency for the social network. The cryptocurrency would be used by users and advertisers on Facebook to make electronic payments.
As it prepares for GDPR, Snap launched a new privacy center that explains all of Snapchat’s privacy policies in understandable terms. It also lets users opt in and out of audience segments they’ve been grouped into based on their behavior. They can also clear their location data, search history and request the removal of all of their data.
Facebook has introduced something totally radical. It just launched a Youth Portal, which it is positioned as “a central place for teens.” The hub comes in 60 languages and is meant to explain how teens can get the most out of Facebook products in the safest way possible. The move coincides with Facebook’s Parents Portal, which rolled out in late 2016.
WhatsApp is following parent company Facebook’s lead when it comes to emphasizing groups. WhatsApp is getting new features, including the ability to add group descriptions, restrict group editing to admins, a group catch-up feature that downloads users on what they might have missed and group participant search.
Chrome disabled its autoplay video-blocking feature. While it was blocking autoplay videos, it was also blocking web games, multimedia projects and other content users actually wanted to see. The feature is expected to be back in October after developers have had more time to make their sites and products compatible.
YouTube Music now has a launch date, May 22. It will work similar to Spotify by offering both a free and ad-supported option. It’s focus will be on using Google data about each user to develop personalized listening experiences based on listening patterns, time of day and location. The launch of YouTube Music coincides with the end of YouTube Red, which is now renamed to YouTube Premium. Paying for YouTube Premium for $11.99 per month will grant users access to YouTube Music Premium as well as ad-free video content along with exclusive YouTube shows.
Instagram is allowing users to add posts from their feeds to Instagram Stories using a new type of sticker. The feature is available by tapping the paper airplane button on a post. From there users will have the option to create a Story.