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.
TikTok Surpasses One Billion Downloads
TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly and acquired by Chinese-based company ByteDance, has crossed a major milestone. The platform has been downloaded more than one billion times by users around the world. January alone brought in 71 million new users, according to an estimate by Sensor Tower.
ByteDance hasn’t confirmed the numbers and downloads do not equate to active users, but they certainly show that the app’s #3 ranking in the Apple App Store shows no sign of going away anytime soon.
Obviously, one billion isn’t the billions of users seen by Facebook and YouTube, but the stat shows just how big of a player TikTok is about to become. TikTok’s been on Facebook’s radar for some time, which even went so far as to create a clone of the app called Lasso that launched last November. Lasso hasn’t seen anywhere near the success of TikTok, and the fact that Facebook tried to copy TikTok shows just how concerned it is with its meteoric growth, especially with the teen market.
All of that being said, TikTok does have its issues. TikTok will have to pay $5.7 million to the FTC for a penalty imposed on Musical.ly, which was acquired by TikTok. The fine is being imposed because Musical.ly collected the personal information of children under 13 without parental consent, a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
This week TikTok took action by suspending accounts it believed belonged to underage users, which led to a different problem. Many of TikTok’s adult users submitted fake birthdays when creating their accounts, which meant they were locked out and took to Twitter to air their frustrations. TikTok asked them to submit government issued IDs to restore their accounts to which users justifiably said was also a bit of of an overstep when it comes to the collection of personal information.
News Quick Hits
Pinterest and YouTube are taking steps to limit the reach of anti-vaccination propaganda. Now, when you type “vaccination” or “anti-vax” into the search bar on Pinterest, nothing shows up. Pinterest is the first of the big social networks to disable searches related to the anti-vax misinformation movement. YouTube has disabled the ability for anti-vax content to be monetized. Now, any channels promoting anti-vax beliefs will be unable to run ads as they violate YouTube’s policy of prohibiting monetization for “dangerous and harmful” content.
Instagram has added code to its app for “Collections,” a feature that lets users organize posts they’ve saved into categories. Up until this point, that saved content was for the user only. This new code, once enabled, would allow users to share their saved posts with others, as well as add the ability for others to add posts to Collections created by other users. The move would be Instagram’s answer to Pinterest in many ways. Nothing has been announced at this time, but the fact that code has been discovered for the feature means we may me able to expect an update to Collections soon.
Few companies have pivoted quite like Foursquare, and that pivot continues. Foursquare just launched Attribution Powered by Foursquare, a new offline sales attribution tool that’s meant to measure foot traffic generated by any digital ad. The tool uses a 1.3 million Foursquare panel of users who have volunteered to always share their locations with Foursquare as well as U.S. Census information. Marketers can measure their campaign performance at driving foot traffic for specific demographics and compare test groups and control groups.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel announced that Snapchat’s much-anticipated redesigned Android app will be fully rolled out by the end of the year. Snapchat’s current Android offering does not work as it should, which has led to slower user growth for the platform. The redesigned app is especially targeted to international markets where Android is more prevalent.
AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner took another step forward when the Justice Department failed to convince the courts to block the $85 billion acquisition.
Facebook’s CFO revealed that the clear history feature announced by Facebook in 2018 will be launched this year. The tool will let users see information about their interactions with apps and websites and then choose to delete that information from Facebook. The tool gives users greater control over their personal information, but it will come at the cost of diminished targeting capabilities through the Facebook platform.
LinkedIn has updated LinkedIn Jobs with a new insights called Jobs Where You Could Make More Money. The goal of the insight is to show users jobs that could lead to a raise based on their current positions.
This week Facebook unveiled Facebook Showcase, a new premium ad product for Facebook Watch. The goal is to give TV ad buyers something more comparable on Facebook to what they buy on TV. Showcase offers in-stream reserve, an option for placements to be bought in advance at fixed costs on some of Facebook Watch’s most popular shows. There’s also in-stream reserve categories, which offers the same options for advertisers but spread across a range of relevant content versus specific shows. Lastly, it offers sponsorships to give advertisers the ability to be the exclusive sponsor of shows.
In response to its latest brand safety issues around children in videos, YouTube laid out a new policy that will disable comments on videos featuring minors. Some creators will be exempt from the policy, but they’ll be required to moderate their own comments and remove predatory posts. Along with this, YouTube is speeding up the development of a new classifier that will be able to ID and remove double the amount of predatory comments compared to its current classifier. There are a few questions around YouTube’s move. First, how is it identifying content featuring minors and how will it determine which videos are exempt and which are not?