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’s News Service Will Reward the Few
We’re getting more details on how Facebook’s upcoming news tab will work when it launches this fall. This news tab is Facebook’s latest attempt, of which there have been many, to integrate news more into the platform.
One of the things it's emphasized this time around is how it will be compensating publishers for their news, not exploiting them. Well, that might not be the case, at least not 100%, as this week we found out that only about 25% of the 200 publications featured on the news tab will receive monetary compensation from Facebook. The remaining 75% will be hoping that the additional traffic sent by Facebook will make up for their content. The publications that are paid will be paid as much as $3 million a year for national news down to several hundred thousand dollars for regional players.
The one shining hope of this new news tab is that it will not be algorithmically generated. Facebook’s hired a team of journalists to sort through and surface content.
This news is disappointing but unsurprising. Facebook has shown disregard for journalistic publications in the past. It learned that people want news on the platform, but it lost control over how that news was surfaced and decided to cut it, to the detriment of traffic-reliant publishers. Now, Facebook wants that engagement back, hence the news tab, which Facebook promised will be different by featuring real, fact-based news and offering more compensation to publishers. Both of those promises are true, but as we’re starting to see with this news, they’ve given themselves a lot of wiggle room to reap an outsized share of the benefits of bringing news back to the platform.
Mark Zuckerberg Responds to the News
There’s been no shortage of Facebook news, and most of it has not been flattering of the social network. This week we got a sneak peak of what the CEO is thinking.
A leaked recording of an all-staff meeting at Facebook features Zuckerberg speaking openly about a number of things. Now, it’s difficult to truly know whether or not the audio was leaked by a rogue employee or by Facebook intentionally, but either way, it’s interesting to hear Zuckerberg’s perspective.
When it comes to proposals to break up Facebook, Zuckerberg stated that should moves in that direction be made, Facebook would sue the government—even though it really doesn’t want that to happen. Zuckerberg stated, “…if someone's going to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.” A lot has been made of this statement, but my perspective is, what else is he supposed to say? He’s at an all-staff meeting with employees of Facebook potentially nervous about what could happen to the platform. As a CEO, he probably should put up a fight to keep his company intact. Whether or not Facebook should win that fight is what the debate should be about, not whether or not he should fight.
Zuckerberg stated that the company plans to release Lasso, a TIkTok clone, in countries where TikTok has yet to take off like Mexico to combat the growing social platform. As far as moderator working conditions, Zuckerberg stated that some of the news reports were a little overblown, but he did assert a commitment to support them better.
The CEO didn’t reveal a lot we didn’t already know, but it is interesting to get a peek into how he’s communicating and responding to news internally.
Instagram Launches Threads
Instagram has a new messaging app called Threads, which is a camera-first app meant to help users share visual messages with their closest friends.
The app lets users share photos, videos, messages and Stories with those on their Instagram close friends lists. The app opens directly within the camera, so users can snap a video or photo quickly and share. It’s in-the-moment, it’s less curated.
Close Friends is a feature on Instagram that allows users to create a list of the people they want to keep up with most on Instagram. That list is tied into the Threads experience.
This app is interesting because it’s not a new, completely separate experience like its previous app ventures. It’s deeply tied to Instagram where users are spending a lot of time, and that may help its success. That paired with social users’ increasing preference for messaging over broadcasting platforms may give Threads a nice advantage.
News Quick Hits
Twitter’s taking steps to filter out offensive content in direct messages. Any messages that contain potential spam or offensive language will be added to an “additional messages” folder. The move is promising, albeit simple for such a complicated problem. If you have open DMs, you can feel like those can stay open as messages that contain offensive language will drop into this “additional messages” folder.
Reddit added a new update to its bullying and harassment violation rules. Now “anything that works to shut someone out of the conversation through intimidation or abuse, online or off” will be banned from the platform. Previously, language had to instill fear of real safety in its targets. Reddit admitted that the bar for that was too high. Reddit also announced that both bystanders and victims can report such abusive language, but Reddit will also be using machine-learning tools to identify violations as well. These efforts to clean up the platform more also included the banning of some insel subreddits.
Facebook added a new CTA for Stories ads. Now, advertisers can direct users to Messenger to interact with the brand when they swipe up on a Stories ad. Any brand that wants to encourage one-to-one dialogue with consumers will now be able to make greater use of Stories, which have 500 million users on Facebook. 40 million businesses are active on Messenger.
Instagram’s testing a feature that positions it even more as an ecommerce tool. The test gives users the ability to opt-in to reminders to buy products on Instagram the day they’re released via a “Set Reminder” CTA in posts and a sticker in Stories. The feature could be helpful for product drops such as shoe releases or even video game launches.
After last week's favorable ruling for Google in a right to be forgotten case, Facebook received an unfavorable decision from the E.U. in one of its decisions. The E.U.’s top court ruled that Facebook can be required to take down posts, photos and videos as well as restrict global access to such material if so ordered by an individual country. The move is significant because it extends orders of a country beyond its borders, and it puts the responsibility on Facebook to police how content on its platform is spread. Facebook argued that such a ruling limits free speech. Facebook plans to challenge the decision.
TikTok announced that it will not allow any political ads of any type on its platform. While political candidates will still be allowed to have profiles, TikTok won’t be following the paths of other social networks in allowing those candidates to run ads. Clearly, TikTok wants to avoid the political issues other platforms have faced. TikTok, however, is not completely apolitical. The service is run by Beijing-based ByteDance, and it recently came under fire for blocking content that criticized China.
The two biggest promoted content platforms in the business just merged. The companies responsible for the rows of suggested content at the bottom of articles, Taboola and Outbrain, are merging. The company will be called Taboola.
Uber has launched Uber Works, a new offering that partners Uber with staffing agencies to take care of screenings and payroll, while also allowing users to search for jobs. It’s a diversification away from connecting drivers with riders.
PayPal has pulled out of the Libra Association, Facebook’s organization in charge of implementing its cryptocurrency. Visa and MasterCard have expressed hesitation as well. Facebook committed to ensuring Libra meets full regulatory approval before launching, and while that should be the case, the slow pace of the process appears to be wearing on partners.