Tag: tech

3 Pro-Privacy Moves from Google, and 1 Way Brands Can Still Hold Their Ground

For a world dominated by talk of social platforms, “privacy” seems to be the word on everyone’s lips lately.

Facebook has touted its next steps as hospitable to a world where in-group conversations and ephemeral messaging reign. Apple’s most recent update to its Safari browser has taken draconian measures to limit cookies. And Google is joining in on the conversation, with CEO Sundar Pichai taking a strong stance by saying, “Privacy should not be a luxury good. We’re also working hard to challenge the assumption that products need more data to be helpful.” Three recent product updates from the company reflect their commitment to the latter statement, but what impact will these moves have on their success in – and the industry’s reliance on – the advertising tech business?

C is for Cookies, and Clarity

The three tenets Google has adopted to articulate their philosophy on privacy are transparency, control, and respect for user choice. Their forthcoming capability for cookies, in many ways, addresses all three of those tenets. A number of existing Chrome features are due for an overhaul, and will result in users having more control over how cookies are collected and how they can be removed.

A key element of this process is creating a clear distinction between third-party cookies (collected based on your actions taken online) and first-party cookies (information you input and request to have saved, like purchasing information and passwords). By ensuring that these types of cookies are differentiated from one another, users can remove information that informs their ad displays but still “remember” things like credit card numbers or challenging passwords.

Fighting Back with Browsers

Browser functionality is essential in enacting the changes listed above. To that end, several additional changes were announced specifically for Chrome, the market-leading web browser, as well as extensions for its competitors Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. First, the Chrome team is fighting back against what it calls ‘opaque tracking’ strategies, which don’t use cookies but do still capture user information. “Fingerprinting,” or the process of mining and aggregating data on browser type, IP address, time zone, and language, will be cracked down upon considerably.

But the transparency won’t stop there. For data that has already been collected and is in use for ad targeting, a new browser extension will demystify the ad “serving” process. Per AdWeek, “if a user is served an ad for a brand, the extension will tell them who paid for the placement plus the additional data segments used to personalize ads and the companies involved with the process.” Put another way by Google’s Senior VP for ads and commerce, “We want to give users more visibility into the data used to personalize ads and the companies involved in the process.” As calls for privacy grow ever louder from consumers rightfully concerned about their data and its safety, these measures go a long way to address and quiet those worries.

Saying “Later” to Locations and “Adios” to Activities

Earlier this month, the company announced that it was creating a capability to delete location and activity history from Google accounts. Users can toggle settings to keep this information forever, delete it after three months, or delete it after eighteen months. Compared to their nearest competitor in the ad market, Facebook – whose analogous feature has been delayed several times, Google seems more open to the possibility of holding less information from their users. Per CNET, you can also opt to disable web and app activity tracking.

CNET has opined that “for [Google’s focus on privacy] to work, Pichai’s promise [to optimize products with less data] has to be sincere.” And in a number of ways, they’re taking concrete actions that demonstrate that it is, at least for now. But in light of the considerable power these moves give Google users and prospective consumers, where do advertisers find themselves now?

Time to Ask Before You Act

Needless to say, rumors about proposed changes to this mammoth company’s ad practices (Google Ads is the largest player in the ad tech game, holding 31% of the market share) created worries for advertisers and brands. But they’re reportedly open to the changes that have been proposed, with S4 Capital’s head Martin Sorrell calling them “a good move.” He went on to share an important note for those grasping for new strategy in light of this newly empowered consumer base: the more difficult advertisers have it when accessing data on how their campaigns perform, the more important it will be for brands to have a direct relationship with consumers.

At last fall’s Social Media Week London, this exact challenge came up during “Can Privacy and Personalization Co-Exist?Wayin’s Rich Jones insisted that this new consumer awareness of ad targeting practices was not only the end of this era of marketing, but that “it’s going to make us better.” Brands who can connect meaningfully with prospective customers, earning their trust rather than co-opting it through data they may not have realized they’re sharing, will perform at a higher level and with more brand loyalty.

So yes, targeting may be a little less exact than before now that there’s more ease over controlling your data. What will you do with the attention you do garner? How will you use in good and trustworthy ways? The challenge course is now set, thanks to Google—it’s on us to do the right, smart, and better thing.

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The Evolution of Storytelling with Video: What Works on Facebook, Won’t on Instagram (Or YouTube)

Successful social media content isn’t one size fits all. In 2019, telling the same story across all social platforms isn’t the most effective way to drive results. That’s why when it comes to crafting social videos that tell a story and stand out, it’s the platform that’s key.

Here’s some insight into what successful storytelling looks like on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and how you can create your own platform-specific videos.

On Facebook, share news and updates

About  88% of Facebook users browse on their mobile device and most watch videos without sound. Additionally, most users spend about 10-to-12 minutes on Facebook per visit. So you’ve got a limited amount of time to stop viewers from scrolling past your content.

How do you engage the Facebook audience? Stick to news and updates.

Consumers on this platform are expecting to stay updated or learn something new. For that reason, it’s the right platform to talk about something new, like a product, offering, launch, or location. Also, keep in mind that square videos take up 78% more space in the Facebook News Feed. To optimize for engagement in the Feed, stick to square video.

On Instagram, inspire with eye-catching videos

Instagram is the up-and-coming platform on social. In 2018, Instagram showed higher engagement and ad spend than Facebook. Furthermore, in a recent survey, 48% of consumers said they made a purchase after watching a brand’s video on Instagram— that’s up 17% from the previous year.

So what kind of content resonates with the Instagram audience? Think visually stunning imagery, and inspiring stories.

When approaching video creation for Instagram, start with something visually striking.Tell a story that inspires or intrigues or share a memorable quote. Posting the kind of content your audience prefers to consume helps your brand stand out on social.

On YouTube, educate with longform content

While sharing a longform video on Instagram or Facebook may not hold your audience’s attention, longer video content excels on YouTube. And since its what viewers expect on this platform, they are more likely to stay engaged till the end.

It’s also worth noting that your YouTube audience is looking for specific information, and most likely watching with the audio on. So, share educational content such as how-to videos or top 5 lists (2 out of 3 of consumers favorite types of videos on social) that’ll provide value to your audience.

On social, the success of a story is linked to the platform on which it is shared. And, catering your video content to viewers on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube fosters a memorable connection to your audience. Incorporate these insights into your marketing strategy to create effective storytelling videos for each platform.

For more on effective storytelling with video, check out my session at Social Media Week NYC.

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4 Gifts Gmail Gave Us For Its 15th Birthday

Fifteen years ago this month, Gmail made its debut online. And despite making its first appearance on April Fools’ Day, its dominance has been far from a joke. It made its arrival on the scene with unparalleled dominance in its search capability, tools to fight spam, and especially its storage capacity – 1GB? Could you believe it (in 2004)?

This month marks its fifteenth anniversary, and in honor of the milestone Google opted to give its users several gifts. Here, we share four of the latest updates to the platform that will change the way you communicate.

Smart Compose Learns New Tongues

Smart Compose, an AI-assisted feature designed to expedite your email sending, is now available in Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, in addition to English. This feature has reportedly saved Gmail users from typing over a billion characters each week – and now it’ll be able to do so for more users all over the world.

Smart Compose is also coming to mobile in a big way – once only available for the Pixel 3, the feature is now making its debut across all Android devices. In the coming months, the feature will also be available for iOS users. Given that Google estimates over 72 percent of the US workforce will be mobilized in some capacity by next year, strong mobile support is a logical shift toward the present and future of how business is conducted.

Smart Compose Has Gotten to Know You

Smart Compose has learned more than new languages in the last few years; now, it knows even more about you…and will be using that information to speed up your composition process. Have a custom greeting or closing you’re partial to in your emails? Smart Compose knows, and will be using it more frequently. Stumped about an email subject? Once you start writing your message, it’ll be able to suggest appropriate subject lines for what you’ve filled the email body with.

The tool admittedly still has some room to grow, but these additions to Smart Compose will continue to cement Gmail’s dominance in the AI-assisted email segment.

Inside Job: More Activity from Inside Your Inbox

Finally, you can do more from within the “confines” of your inbox than ever before. According to product manager Tom Holman, users “can respond to a comment thread in Google Docs, browse hotel recommendations and more, directly within emails.

This way,” he says in the birthday blog post, “you don’t have to open a new tab or app to get things done.”

Press ‘Pause’ with Scheduled Emails

Perhaps the biggest news of our gift haul from Google, is the ability to schedule emails without the use of a third-party tool. While this capacity existed in the now-defunct Inbox app, desktop users couldn’t delay or set the sending of their messages. Now, Gmail users will be able to send messages anywhere from two minutes in the future…to fifty years from now.

Whether you’re scheduling emails later to be respectful of someone’s time away from their desk, to facilitate easy work across time zones, or simply to avoid hitting “send” on that email you’re nervous about, Scheduled Emails stand to make a massive impact on users’ ability to work hard and work smart.

This collection of updates, given to us as Gmail is poised toward a new frontier, shows a lot of promise for the future of G Suite: more ways to support international use, stronger use of AI, and minimal movement from inboxes to the wider internet. We’re excited to play with the many gifts that Google has provided in this announcement – and yet we’re already looking ahead to the additional upgrades to Gmail for the next fifteen years and beyond.

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Swoot Has Arrived to Make Podcast Sharing Social

Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the last several years, with listenership, creation of new shows, and support on platforms at an all-time high. And yet, there is a weak point in the experience: discovery. Swoot is aiming to address that problem– an app that allows you to “connect with friends, discover shows you’ll love, and never miss an awesome podcast again.”

While other forms of entertainment can be shared with relative ease via social, audio has always been notoriously difficult to share in these spaces. You don’t always know what platform your friends listen to shows on, so direct links are cumbersome to share. You’re not always aware of what someone already listens to, so some recommendations might end up being redundant. And once you do connect with a show, most players will then commit you to a full series…rather than allowing you to hear the one episode your friend loved. Swoot’s approach combats all of those challenges, and does so by ditching the tech-enabled recommendation engine in favor of a human-powered one.

Co-founders Pete Curley and Garret Heaton, formerly of HipChat (since bought by Atlassian), originally devised the app as a tool for team collaboration, but a chance injury Curley sustained meant he spent more time listening to podcasts than he ever had before…and he noticed the dearth of compelling ways to share content with others.

Now, the app they developed provides two ways to do this. One, there is a main feed that shows what friends are listening to and recommending to one another. Two, there is a list of trending episodes based on your connections within the app. Trending episodes is an important distinction, because the app leans more on driving users to popular episodes of podcasts, than whole shows themselves. “In the 700,000 shows that exist, if you’re the 690,000 worst-ranked show, but you have one great episode that should be able to go viral, that’s basically impossible to do right now, because audio is crazy hard to share,” Curley said. Framing recommendations in this way allows exceptional episodes to rise to the top of listener feeds.

The Verge’s Ashley Carman likened the tool to Last.fm, a musical social network that displayed what friends on the platform were listening to and enjoying. Similarly, this book nerd loves that element of Goodreads. Swoot aims to serve that role for avid podcast listeners; “the big idea is to let listeners see what shows their friends follow, as well as the shows and episodes they recommend, all in the name of getting people to discover new content.” And this big idea stands to close a major gap. Social sharing is a part of “literally everything,” including your bathroom scale, except “the one thing that I actually wanted it for,” Curley noted. With Swoot, we may soon be able to check that one thing off the list.

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Testing Reveals Twitter and Instagram’s Efforts to “Reduce Herd Mentality” on Their Platforms

“All of social media is at a crossroads, having built platforms that cater to engagement over health and safety; they’re now trying to backpedal furiously ahead of increased regulation.”

With this quote, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez nailed the crux of the many announced changes we’re seeing on social media platforms. For a long time, engagement was the buzzword of choice; site founders and developers pushed for new features (and ignored problems) in dogged pursuit of this metric at the highest levels. But now that its consequences are coming into sharp focus, a new direction is being pursued. In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten more clarity on how Twitter and Instagram plan to address parts of this large and complex challenge.

Instagram: “Exploring Ways to Reduce Pressure”

Developer and app detective Jane Manchun Wong uncovered a feature hidden in the code of Instagram: an option to hide “likes” on a photo. Engadget reports that Wong shared news of “a version [of Instagram] that doesn’t let the audience see how many likes a post gets.” They go on:

The person who posted it still does, but as the app describes it, “we want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share [sic] a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”

For the average user, this could be a beneficial way to reduce some of the competitiveness that seems to arise around using Instagram. As Josh Constine points out for TechCrunch, it will likely reduce the temptation to “like” something because everyone else is liking it (and phenomena like World Record Egg will likely be a thing of the past), and the temptation to delete posts with low like numbers will abate. However, it could present a challenge for influencers; while likes are becoming a less valuable metric when assessing their value and impact, the invisibility of this measure could make identifying bankable partners more difficult.

An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed that these tests are happening, but there’s no target for a release of the feature, or even if it’ll be released officially at all. But previous features uncovered by Wong in this fashion have gone on to be released. So now we wait.

Twitter: New Control Over Conversations

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, a well-received test feature in their prototype twttr app appears to be coming to life in the full version this summer.

“Hide Replies” will allow the original poster on a thread to alter the visibility of replies on the timeline. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, which allow the original poster to delete replies outright, Twitter will instead permit them to “hide” them, requiring an additional click to be viewed as part of the conversation.

This is a pro for those who find themselves attracting any sort of distracting response: at best, extraneous or off-topic responses; at worst, abuse or trolling responses. However, a need for an original poster to sift through replies that fall into the “worst” category is among the potential cons for the feature. Another possible downside? This feature allows for the silencing (or, at the very least, temporary obstruction) of dissenting opinions—or even factual additions to a conversation.

The “hide replies” measure is among several Twitter shared as part of an update on their pursuit of the ever-elusive and ill-defined metric of “platform health.” Other changes include clearer explanations for tweets designated to stay on the feed despite their violation of the rules, and more ease in sharing specifics when flagging tweets that threaten user safety. In all of this, the goal seems to be twofold: to reduce the burden of those most vulnerable on Twitter for keeping themselves safe, and to distance themselves as a company from their reputation for being negligent toward these users.

Will These Measures Work?

It’s hard to know whether the measures each platform is taking will make a dent in a culture that has already shifted so dramatically as a result of these apps. And it’ll take far more than this to cure the ills that each site suffers from. Instagram, thanks to its parent company Facebook, was part of a major news dump for its vulnerable password storage system. And even as these changes were being reported and progress was being shared, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey found himself under fire at TED 2019 for the site’s glacial pace of change.

But for the time being, the focus is on how to make these sites better for those who have made them part of their daily lives. And what these measures seem to have in common, is returning some control over the experience to the user. It’ll be interesting to see how, when given some power in these spaces that often make many feel powerless, the experience starts to change for all involved.

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PODCAST: Changing the Fabric of Conversation with Travis Montaque, CEO of Emogi

This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast features Travis Montaque, Founder & CEO at Emogi, a content engine for communication services that helps people have better conversations.

During the conversation, Travis discussed:

  • His early career in investment banking and what led to him starting a tech company
  • Why he thinks visual communication and emoji’s, gifs and stickers have become so embedded into how we communicate today
  • How he sees these new forms of communication shaping culture and language
  • Some of the ways in which brands are now beginning to leverage the Emogi platform and how he sees this evolving in the next few years
  • And much more!

Listen to the full episode below:

Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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How To Caption Your Content Across All Social Media Platforms

Video is now an essential part of the social media experience. It provides a highly compelling vehicle for storytelling, and captures the attention in a way that eclipses static content like text or photography. So it’s not surprising that, according to a study released by We Are Social, 70% of companies are planning to focus on video this year. However, video needs to be more than just visually stunning and competently produced—it needs to be enjoyable for all, including the 466 million people globally who are deaf or hard of hearing. Increasingly, this means including closed captioning and subtitling for the videos you produce and post on your brand’s behalf.

Thankfully, a number of leading social media platforms are shouldering part of the responsibility for this task. In creating these options, their hope is that more friends, followers, and partners will be able to enjoy and learn from your content. If you’re looking to get started captioning video, here’s how to do it.

Twitter

Twitter’s support for native subtitling is the newest of the platforms we’ll discuss; it was added to their suite of accessibility options within the last month. Available in the Twitter Media Studio, the process requires the uploading of an SRT (SubRip Subtitle) file, composed with relative ease via Notepad or Text Edit on your computer.

Once you designate the language of origin, you’re now ready to release a video that can be easily understood. Given that 93% of Twitter videos are watched without sound, it is a highly advantageous feature for your video content.

Facebook

Reportedly, 80% of social media users react negatively when an ad or other video auto-plays with sound; captioning content that shows up in these feeds can help you grab attention without arousing shock or ire. Facebook has a few options for subtitling video; the company released an “auto-caption” option in 2017, but it has come under occasional fire for its accuracy. They’re not alone in this challenge (YouTube faces it as well) – any site’s automatic option is subject to the interpretation of the technology used to decipher it. Should you wish to avoid these flubs and upload your own, you can do so after uploading the video.

Once the upload is complete, click “Subtitles and Captions” in the right hand column. You’ll be asked about the native language of the video; select the one that is appropriate for the content you’re sharing. Then, you can upload the SRT file containing your video’s script and captioning timestamps. And if you do want to chance the discretion of an auto-subtitling, you can select that option here as well.

YouTube

As you might expect, the streaming video giant places a high premium on accessible video. A less expected development: as of press time, the Beta version of their Creator Studio doesn’t support the subtitling or captioning of uploaded video. Users wishing to assure a video’s accessibility for the hearing-impaired have to revert back to the “Classic” version of the studio and complete the task there. Looking to help advocate for the change? When you toggle from the Beta version to the Classic edition, report your need for captioning and subtitling support as the “reason” for switching.

Once in the Classic version of the Studio, go to the Video Manager and select the video you’d like to caption. Next to that video, click the drop down menu near the “Edit” option. Select the Subtitles/CC option; from there, you’ll be prompted to either allow auto-subtitling or to upload an SRT file containing your video’s text and timestamps. A benefit of YouTube’s subtitling options is the “in-between” option of sharing a video’s text, and having the platform help you “auto-sync” your words to the video’s timing needs. It serves as an elegant solution for those with a transcript but no sense of how the words are timed in the video.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the newest platforms to support video, but the delayed gamble is paying off- now that the format is prioritized in the News Feed, video posts are reportedly being viewed at a rate nearing 50%. Given the newness of their support for the medium, it makes some sense that their support for subtitling is currently only available for desktop users. But given the rapid pace of innovation for the platform, this is likely to change soon.

Upload your video as you normally would. When the video preview appears, click the Edit icon in the upper right corner to reveal the Video Settings. From here, you can “Select File” and upload your SRT file. Save the file addition, and click “Post.” From that point forward, your video will appear with subtitles.

Who’s Missing?

It may seem as though the major players have addressed this challenge admirably, but there is one notable omission to the lineup: Instagram. Despite the popularity of video on the platform, and its exponentially increasing use, there still is no support for native subtitling on the platform- much to the frustration of accessibility advocates and activists. More motivated users can seek out third-party tools to fill this gap, but a lack of native capability might provoke the question: why won’t Instagram make it easy for its users to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing?

Speaking of third-party tools, it should be noted that many common dashboard tools, designed to streamline social media posting and scheduling (i.e. Buffer, Hubspot, TweetDeck) are ill-equipped to help its users easily caption video. For this reason, native capability on respective platforms is crucial. If you are a user of these tools, advocate to their support teams for the addition of these features. Their tools – and the platforms they want to simplify access to – have the power to streamline and simplify storytelling for us all. But those stories should be ones that all can enjoy. And until these options are made compulsory and easy to use, that simply won’t be the case.

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Vimeo Centers Storytelling with Magisto Acquisition

Vimeo’s latest acquisition was made with the power of storytelling in mind- which, naturally, makes it an attractive move for us to cover.

This week, Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud shared news of the company’s purchase of Israeli video company Magisto, for an undisclosed amount (but is rumored to be approximately $200 million). Sud praised their team of employees and engineers for their “brilliant group of video technologists who have spent the last decade helping over 100 million people create videos online.” She went on to praise several of the features of their service that likely made them attractive as a target for Vimeo:

During that time, they developed proprietary technology and a deep expertise in short-form video storytelling — everything from intuitive mobile experiences to cutting edge AI to powerful video editing tools.

According to TechCrunch, this deal “underscores Vimeo’s strategy to position itself as a one-stop shop for companies and individuals that publish videos online—either as part of publicity campaigns or as the basis of a bigger process.” But for Sud, the goal is far loftier; with more powerful tools and easier access, these campaign developers and other users can not just create more video, but tell better and more interesting stories.

Building on the debut of Vimeo Stock, and leaning on the expertise of the creative community that currently buoys the platform, Sud is eager for “[the] creative community [being] partners in bringing quality and craft to those stories. These are ambitious goals, but entirely possible with the combined force of two companies who believe in the power of technology to lower the barriers for quality storytelling.”

Magisto’s founder and CEO, Oren Boiman, will continue to head Magisto, reporting to Vimeo’s Chief Product Officer Mark Kornfilt. Magisto’s 75 employees, currently based in Israel and California, will all be joining Vimeo. Boiman echoes the excitement that Sud shared: “we’re thrilled to join Vimeo’s industry-leading platform, and to power their vision to make professional quality video creation accessible to all.”

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Like It, Love It, Celebrate It: Why Social Media Marketers Will Love LinkedIn’s New Reactions

If you look below posts on LinkedIn, you might see something slightly different than you’re accustomed to seeing.

Where posts on your feed previously generated Likes, they might now be receiving a few different reactions. Appearing under content with a variety of multicolored circles, these new reactions are expanding the ways LinkedIn users can express themselves.

Who Needs More Than a “Like”?

The need to express oneself on LinkedIn might seem excessive or unnecessary for a professional platform, but Product Manager Cissy Chen insists these new options were in more demand than you might think:

One of the things we regularly hear from all of you is that you want more expressive ways than a ‘like’ to respond to the variety [of] posts you see in your feed. At the same time, you’ve also told us that when you post on LinkedIn, you want more ways to feel heard and understand why someone liked what you said.

The latter is incredibly common; when posting something that could be construed as bad or disappointing news (headlines about disappointing hiring trends or discouraging experiences, for example), a “like” hardly feels like an appropriate reaction. Product designers for the platform took up this challenge heartily, “determined to stay focused on our members’ needs and the unique conversations they have on LinkedIn,” said product designer Ricardo Rivera. They sought to create options that helps users to know “why someone ‘liked’ what they shared, as well as more lightweight ways to express that a post resonated with them.”

The Result: Meet LinkedIn’s New Reactions

In addition to the preserved “Like” option, users worldwide will soon have access to the following four reactions:

Celebrate

Part of the process that LinkedIn product designers used to determine the most appropriate reactions was an analysis of the most common 1-2 word responses to posts. Their number one finding? “Congratulations.” As a result, this reaction button (designated by a green set of applauding hands) was developed for users to “praise an accomplishment like landing a new job or speaking at an event.” Marketers can use instances of this reaction to gauge appreciation for company milestones, appearances on industry lists, and additions to their respective workforces.

Love

Chen writes in her product announcement that this button, designated with a reddish coral heart, would be most appropriately deployed “to express deep resonance and support, like a conversation about work-life balance or the importance of mentorship.” This one seems to be a direct result of data provided from feedback mechanisms like user surveys and comments- where people often said, “I need a ‘love’ button.” Social media marketers can keep an eye out for this reaction upon the release of new products or product features, or helpful responses to follower queries.

Insightful

At times, it can be helpful to be able to indicate that a point made you think- without doing so in a way that indicates you “like” it. The Insightful reaction, represented by a yellow lightbulb, was designed for precisely this. “In past research,” Rivera noted, “we found that posters want to know whether these ideas have an impact on other people. This insight (no pun intended) inspired the “Insightful” (and “Curious”) reaction. When using content to present ideas that they hope will spark behavior changes or meaningful feedback, observing the use of this reaction can help content creators determine whether their content is achieving the desired goal.

Curious

This reaction, closely related to the Insightful response, “lets [users] show [their] desire to learn more or react to a thought-provoking topic.” This option could provide particular insight to content creators, as it could provide clear clues about what elements of a concept or process might merit follow-up or supplemental coverage. This reaction, denoted with a purple “thinking” head, is one that likely finds special utility on LinkedIn—a more educational space than other platforms who have deployed reactions previously.

Four New Ways to Connect Humans Worldwide

While LinkedIn’s decision to develop additional reactions doesn’t seem like a novel one, especially three years after occasional competitor Facebook released theirs, what does seem novel here is the deliberacy with which the platform moved. Three admirable principles upon which the company based their reaction development were constructiveness to a poster, meaningful interaction drive (versus vanity metrics), and global universality- Rivera and his design team insisted that “reactions should be understood globally so that every member of the global workforce can have productive conversations with each other on LinkedIn.”

To acknowledge that humans can have a multitude of reactions to a single stimulus, in turn acknowledges the humanity of people using the platform. This is a stride that aligns with LinkedIn’s recent larger focus in this area: “LinkedIn has been infusing a warmer, more human look and feel in all of [its] visuals to help build more emotional connections,” and the manner in which this change was deployed demonstrates that. After so many years of fighting its reputation as a stiff, hard-to-understand platform, moves like this and their “Kudos” feature are actively making a dent in that perception.

And for marketers seeking to infuse humanity in their communications, LinkedIn is finally a platform that can “meet you there,” as it were. Inc. points out that “a more diverse range of options lets marketers know how people truly [feel] about their content.” Although the full range of reactions isn’t captured here—notably, there are no negative or potentially negative options provided—it does give social media managers and social listeners new insight into the audiences they’re seeking to understand…and all the many feelings they may have about you and your company.

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YouTube’s Hunger for Engagement May Have Been Its Downfall, Says Bloomberg

Engagement is a metric that, for a time, many of us were willing to chase in pursuit of success. We wanted eyes on our articles, and lusted after the likes, favorites, and comments that would inevitably follow. But as a scathing Bloomberg report has revealed, this chase on the part of YouTube could lead to its downfall.

The Blind Dash to One Billion

Citing a 2012 decision to institute an objective of one billion hours of viewing a day on the platform, the expose explores how the site effectively rewrote its recommendation engine toward reaching that goal – at the expense of viewer safety, and despite the warnings of several YouTube and Google employees. The result? In some of its darkest corners, it ignored growing conspiratorial tendencies, allowing them to proliferate in dangerous ways. Bloomberg’s Mark Bergen put it ominously as he wrote:

The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.

Crushing Its Creator Community

In allowing this content—be it false or incendiary—to spread, it didn’t just hurt the platform’s users, who could easily be drawn into rabbit holes of questionable content. It also had an impact on its creator community, who had long been touted as the backbone of the platform. But the rise of this sort of spurious content happened to coincide with the demonetization and periodic hiding of high-profile creators’ products. And when these two streams of content intersected on occasion, as with PewDiePie’s since-removed anti-Semitic content or Logan Paul’s highly controversial “suicide forest video,” it did even more damage to their cache of creators.

Even as the platform (rightfully) de-emphasized the role these bad actors played in their overall strategy, many mid-level creators felt abandoned as a result. Said lifestyle vlogger Carrie Crista to The Verge last year, “YouTube seems to have forgotten who made the platform what it is.” As their unique, user-generated appeal started to cause problems, she said the site “[pushed] content creators away instead of inviting them to a social platform that encourages them to be creative in a way that other platforms can’t.”

Historically, YouTube’s strategy has been to pass the buck when faced with backlash; if its creators courted controversy, they’d highlight vetted and more secure bets (like late night content, musicians, or its marquee original programming). But at this stage, there may simply be too much to overcome without an overt pivot in strategy. Their attempted push into prestige programming has been walked back twice now; YouTube Red has pivoted from an original programming arm to a premium music service, and what was to be subscription-supported programming will now be supported by ads. A site that once rocketed to stratospheric viewership, runs a risk of cratering under the weight of its own scandals.

What Will it Take to Rebound?

The challenges that YouTube faces are multi-faceted: there is a clear need to repair its reputation with advertisers who see ample reasons to flee, to rebuild relationships with their creator community, and to minimize its role (perceived and actual) in the spread of misinformation.

In some ways, they are making clear progress. When faced with overwhelming evidence of their role in incubating child pornography rings, the site promised “blunt action” to prevent the monetization and recommendation of this content.

As Ars Technica has reported, “the company has changed many of its rules and regulations around the types of content that can be monetized on the platform, who can get paid from YouTube, and what content is explicitly banned from the site.” And once-overlooked suggestions like creating a tier of videos that, while technically within the Terms of Service, should not be amplified, have since been implemented, there remains a great deal of work to be done. But their communication with and treatment of their creator community still needs to be addressed. And in a larger sense, the company’s understanding of what’s important to their survival needs to be drastically reassessed.

A particularly prickly piece of Bloomberg’s testimony notes that when scores of YouTube and Google employees previously spoke up about the cutthroat strategy to growth, they were told “don’t rock the boat.” In these increasingly stormy seas, those times have passed. Now, drastic rerouting will need to take place to keep said boat afloat.

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Coming To A LinkedIn Feed Near You: Direct Uploads

As LinkedIn has evolved to become a living, growing compendium of your professional experience, one of its most welcome developments has been the sharing of presentations, documents, and PDFs. Now, the platform is allowing you to share these professional artifacts on your main feed.

Although the feature has existed for years on a user’s profile, and was added to the site’s messaging function late last year, it has been a clunkier process to share things like PowerPoint presentations or PDFs without linking to an outside source or using a third party like SlideShare. Last week, the native sharing functionality debuted on the desktop edition of the site, with mobile functionality forthcoming.

The feature allows you to share these professional artifacts to your personal feed, to that of a Company page you manage, or to a Group of which you are a member. The goal, according to Product Manager Margaret Taomina, is to “spark deeper conversation” among users and their connections. She goes on to marvel at the quality interactions that have already resulted from the feature’s rollout, noting:

Documents and presentations are an impactful way to share knowledge with your community and ignite richer conversations on topics you care about. From conference presentations and whitepapers to case studies and playbooks, sharing presentations is a great way to break down complex ideas, tell stories by combining words and images, and allow you to go deeper.

Taomina closes the post by encouraging users to deploy this feature not only as an additional means to display professional competence, but as a way to share meaningful content with their colleagues: “We’re always looking for new ways to help you have valuable conversations, and look forward to seeing how you use this new feature to share ideas and learn from one another.”

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How Will Stringent Content Laws Overseas Affect Live Streaming in the United States?

In the wake of the horrifying Christchurch mosque attack, lawmakers in Australia and New Zealand have acted swiftly to present such acts from happening again.

After first addressing laws surrounding firearms themselves, the focus has shifted now to the means of broadcast: livestreaming via social media. Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019, introduced last week and passed by both houses, would take swift and significant action against platforms who allow objectionable or violent footage to circulate.

Adjudicating the Abhorrent

According to AdWeek,

The new law makes failure by social media platforms to “expeditiously” remove “abhorrent” violent material a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison for the executives deemed responsible or fines of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue in the country.

Such drastic laws will likely expedite the efforts of companies like Facebook – the most commonly named platform facing this issue following Christchurch – to quell the broadcast and later sharing of such atrocities. COO Sheryl Sandberg cited “a strengthening of rules for using Facebook Live” as one of three steps for the company, in addition to “taking further steps to address hate on our platforms, and supporting the New Zealand community.” And yet, critics continue to wonder if such vaguely worded promises will be enough to manage the formidable challenge ahead.

Remaining “Content-First” Amid Catastrophe

In an interview with the Washington Post on the issue, Stanford researcher Becca Lewis rightfully points out that tech companies like Facebook and YouTube “have a content moderation problem that is fundamentally beyond the scale that they know how to deal with,” also noting that their priority has never been to effectively manage the impact of that scale. Rather, she says, “the financial incentives are in play to keep content first and monetization first.” So as long as there stands to be money in livestreaming as a platform, and as long as there stands to be demand for the service – regardless of how bad actors could use it – sites like Facebook and YouTube will fight to keep it alive.

To an extent, this can actually be good. Citing the broadcast of House Democrats’ gun control sit-in in 2016, The Verge’s Casey Newton is quick to point out that these new technologies have positive applications, ones that should not be overlooked as we legislate bad actors’ eventual use:

Tools that democratize the sharing of information have followed a familiar pattern. First, they are discovered by the early adopters that use them generally for good; then they are discovered by criminals who exploit them relentlessly […] With the Christchurch shooting, we seem to have reached the end point of all newly democratized communications tools: its usage for unabashed terrorism.

Blazing Trails from Overseas

How, then, should lawmakers rightfully concerned about the dangerous use of these tools legislate against such worries – without hampering their use for good-faith efforts? In truth, the proposed Australian law feels like a viable compromise; it allows for the bypassing of feature alterations like content delays that platform executives have fought against, while also placing a burden on these same executives to act swiftly should their product be used poorly. This burden should then, in turn, push these organizations to invest more resources into effectively monitoring and policing their heavily trafficked platforms, keeping an accurate and watchful eye out for dangerous and inherently harmful content.

Could similar efforts be too far off domestically? Numerous piecemeal efforts, like the proposed Senate DETOUR Act, are making small steps toward curbing the at times outsized influence that these companies have on our sharing of data and access to tragedy. But the operative term here: “small steps,” and “outsized influence.” In many ways, the United States remains a “wild West” of sorts as efforts to regulate remain out-of-reach. But overseas frontiers, like those in Australia and New Zealand, may effect the change on that front that this country clearly needs.

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Twitter Finally Adds Native Subtitling Options for Video

Around the world, 466 million people in the world are deaf or hard of hearing. And while social media platforms are making strides to create experiences that can level the playing field for these users—image descriptions, facial recognition, and alt-text tools that work seamlessly with screen readers—deployment of these features has been slow. Twitter’s support for subtitles is among the latest advances that will equalize the user experience for these users.

It should be noted that Twitter currently supports the closed captioning available for users who opt into accessibility tools in their settings. But closed captioning differs from subtitling, which the company defines as “transcripts of the dialog or audio in a video in .SRT files that are attached to videos.” These files can be attached via Twitter Media Studio, Twitter Ads, or Twitter’s application-programming interface for developers.

Given how much Twitter use takes place on mobile devices (93% of Twitter video views take place on mobile), the ability to effectively and easily subtitle videos is beneficial to deaf and hard-of-hearing users, but also for individuals viewing this content without sound. Further, in the highly competitive landscape of mobile-optimized social, platforms that can accommodate the needs of users with disabilities will ultimately win out. By comparison, for example, there is no native mechanism by which to caption Instagram videos or Instagram Stories. It will be interesting to see if availability of these utilities on other sites will pressure them into creating their own native tool for doing so.

But in the meantime, Twitter continues to shine in the area of making content on their platform accessible. To utilize this option for your own video, select a video in your Media Studio, select the “Subtitles” tab in the displayed pop-up window, select the language you’d like to subtitle the video in and upload the .SRT file that holds your video’s transcript.

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PODCAST: How Video Can Drive eCommerce Conversions with Rachel Tipograph, Founder & CEO of MikMak

This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast features Rachel Tipograph, Founder & CEO, MikMak, a next generation eCommerce platform.

Before founding MikMak, Rachel was the global director of social media at The Gap overseeing strategy, implementation and measurement.

During her career she has received a number of accolades including being named one of Forbes’ “30 under 30 Who Are Changing The World” and was one of AdAge’s “Most Creative People of The Year.”

During the conversation, Rachel discussed:

  • Her time at GAP and some of the strategic initiatives she led during her time
  • The journey between leaving GAP and starting MikMak
  • How brands are leveraging the MikMak platform
  • Her thoughts on Facebook’s recent announcements and what Instagram’s new checkout feature means for eCommerce companies

Listen to the full episode below:

Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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As Apple Makes a Splash Into Prestige Programming, YouTube Quietly Leaves the Pool

Apple’s latest product announcement included the long-awaited preview of their Apple TV+ concept, with an “upfronts”-style presentation from high-powered creators, actors, and producers. Between their foray into the streaming wars, and the forthcoming offerings from Disney, it might seem like everyone is getting into the prestige TV game. But it appears that one entity is trying to back away from it: YouTube.

Rethinking “Red”

YouTube’s previously touted Red service has pivoted this year from a premium streaming TV provider to a paid music service. Once a home for its original programming, the company has since moved away from its subscription-based model for these shows (including acclaimed Karate Kid offshoot Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water, Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television, and others). What will replace it by year’s end is an ad-supported model that ultimately allows all YouTube Originals to be available for free.

Amid talks that two high-profile Originals series, Origin and Overthinking with Kat and June, were being cancelled, Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw speculated that the company was moving away from original programming outright. Parts of the story were later refuted, instead revealing this shift in strategy. While the YouTube spokesperson did confirm the two series’ cancellation, they also reaffirmed the company’s dedication to producing original shows, and alluded to a slate of returning and new shows being announced in the weeks to come.

YouTube’s Silver Lining in Streaming

This commitment to providing prestige content with ads is unusual for competitors in the streaming wars- for many, it might just look like YouTube has simply given up. But in this seeming capitulation may lie an opportunity to help YouTube solve a different challenge. Given how volatile its ad business has been in the wake of child pornography and anti-vax content controversies, offering “safer” options for its advertisers through vetted and platform-produced programming may provide peace of mind for clients and company alike.

In either case, it’s providing added job security for head of YouTube Originals programming and WB alumna Suzanne Daniels. The Bloomberg report indicated she’d be seeking a home elsewhere, but she insists that refining this strategy for YouTube is the only thing in her sights at present. “While it’s strangely flattering to be the topic of Hollywood gossip, please know I am committed to YouTube and can’t wait to unveil our robust slate of new and returning originals,” she shared with Bloomberg.

Look for YouTube to unveil this revised slate of ad-supported programming in the weeks to come.

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A Peek Inside Twitter’s Prospective Platform Health “Cures”

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has stated publicly over the last several months that the next great frontier for the platform is establishing what he vaguely referred to as “platform health.” Such promises are common among tech founders, and can often feel like lip service to those still challenged by the toxic environment that these platforms maintain even as progress is being made. But some of Twitter’s latest moves seem to hold the key to, if not a cure, at least some substantive treatment for what ails them.

Crackdowns on API Abuse

Starting June 19th, Twitter will be conducting an audit of any third-party apps that meet a certain threshold of access, ensuring that their use of the site’s APIs is safe and legitimate. The goal, according to Twitter’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth, is “ensuring that out platform is safe and promoting the privacy and safety of our users, and providing a level playing field commercially.” Developers using it for legitimate consumer use or for research will be largely unaffected by the review’s results. Those using these touches in a B2B capacity will be asked to enter into a commercial licensing agreement. And those using it in a manner that breaks policy will be booted from the program; 162,000 users were removed in late 2018, so there’s no reason to doubt how seriously the company is taking this new initiative.

The magic number of touches: 100,000 requests per day. When asked why 100,000, Roth (along with senior product developer Rob Johnson) responded, “Because this limit allows us to make concrete progress to combat inappropriate use of our developer platform, while isolating the impact to the developers using these endpoints the most” – and, I would imagine, in a legitimate fashion.

While the company didn’t frame it this way, TechCrunch was frank in attributing the move to a desire to avoid its own “Cambridge Analytica moment.” And indeed, the crackdown could make the site more attractive to developers than Facebook, whose recent string of challenges have made it a less trustworthy option. The safety this move provides is about more than trust; the lead time is designed to help developers get their proverbial houses in order before their audits; prior API policy changes were deployed too fast, resulting in service outages for developers…and accompanying frustration. Stronger relationships with these developers will hopefully serve as one major component of making Twitter a safer and “healthier” place to be online.

Conversations

“It’s no secret that, as great as Twitter is at connecting you with people across the world, it’s also great at connecting you with bots, trolls, and spam,” Engadget’s Edgar Alvarez shared in a recent piece about Twitter’s aspirations toward platform health. “Unsurprisingly, Twitter wants that to end.” Alvarez correctly points out that these conversations are the biggest indicator of a platform’s health (or, in this case, sickness). He, along with TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez, have spent some time with Twitter’s latest attempt at a cure – the prototype twttr – and feel hopeful about its impact on what ails the site.

twttr’s prototypical methodology allows users to sign up to experiment with new features for the site, ahead of their large-scale deployment on the main app. Its features are more sparse than the typical app (Alvarez lamented this version’s lack of the recently upgraded camera capability), but differs in ways that could change the face of the full site as we know it. Currently, it exists to explore new ways of displaying and denoting conversations. Among the changes, according to TechCrunch’s Perez:

Hidden engagement stats: to see a tweet’s likes or retweets, you have to click on the post directly

  • Reply threads: more reminiscent of a message board, replies are indented and replies coming from people you follow appear with a blue line (making them easier to find if a tweet goes viral or is otherwise cluttered with replies)
  • A “show more” option: not all replies will be displayed. Instead, high quality or otherwise preferable responses will migrate toward the top, and others can be displayed when clicking “show more.”
  • Feedback on the proposed changes can be easily shared from the menu bar, giving users the opportunity to share their likes and dislikes efficiently with Twitter engineers.

“It’s too early to tell whether these experimental features will manage to successfully filter bots, trolls, or spammers completely out of your mentions, Alvarez conceded. I personally wonder about the opinions and results of those who find themselves targeted with higher frequency, namely those from marginalized communities or those with large profiles and therefore larger targets on their proverbial backs. But as it happens, Twitter is trying to be more transparent in how it brings these individuals into their ranks- another possible factor on their path to health.

Diversity

There are features, experiences, and processes on Twitter that can have disproportionate impact on certain populations- as an example, I can see the recently discovered “subscribe to conversations” feature’s potential for abuse fairly clearly. The company, recognizing its blind spots in a number of areas, is committing to bringing on individuals who can ask these questions.

Their recently released diversity report included a rise in female, Black, and Latinx employees, in areas including overall leadership and technical roles. But attrition numbers were also high among those populations, and the company voiced a dedication to exploring and eventually reducing that. They also voiced an aspiration to be at 5% Black and 5% Latinx employees overall, as well as better numbers on gender identification, sexual orientation, disability, and military status- goals that will contribute to their larger wish for platform health.

With better representation in all of these areas, consulting on major advances in third party access and how conversations are structured and prioritized, they’ll have better feedback and more voices in the room about how proposed features contribute to platform “illness” for underrepresented communities- and, in turn, for Twitter’s community of users as a whole.

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Is Snapchat Gaming and New Revenue Opportunities for Snap Arriving Next Month?

When Snap holds its inaugural content and developer summit next month, the event itself won’t be only new addition to the company’s slate. The marquee announcement for the April 4th event is expected to be a gaming platform, hosting a number of externally developed games on the continually innovating app.

Rumors of Snap’s venture into gaming have been swirling since last year, when Chinese company Tencent (WeChat’s parent company, and owners of the wildly popular League of Legends) acquired a 12% stake in Snap. Tencent is reportedly looking to make up a slight loss in revenue, resulting in tighter regulations in its home country. As Engadget points out, “working with Snap in other regions might make sense” for that reason. Speculation intensified when they acquired Prettygreat, the Australian company responsible for runaway gaming successes Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. In partnering with these proven entities, Snap is undoubtedly looking to make a big splash in this space next month.

The splash is an understandable one for them to wish to make; while Snap has struggled to hold on to users in recent years, a proper move into gaming (following its 2018 Snappables venture) could provide additional opportunities to both increase users and monetization opportunities. To the former, the cache of brands like Prettygreat and Tencent could mean that truly engaging gaming is coming to the platform. Not to mention, as The Verge put it, “users who play games in the Snapchat app aren’t browsing [major rival] Instagram.” And to the latter, a combination of in-app purchases and more ad placement slots could send more money Snap’s way.

The impending summit also promises a new slate of original programming, following the initially announced slate back in October 2018. And indeed, this foray into gaming – while not unique to Snapchat, given Facebook Messenger’s gaming tab and a rumored announcement from Google on its own gaming aspirations – does expand Snap Head of Original Programming Nick Bell’s assertion that Snap is less a social media platform, and more of an entertainment company. If this gambit pays off, it’ll admirably cement its status as the latter.

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Periscope’s Latest Update Cracks Down on Fake Engagement

Anywhere that engagement metrics like favorites, shares, and hearts can be used to signal success, ways to “fake” these numbers aren’t too far behind. Periscope is the latest platform to crack down on these faking and spamming efforts, as they revealed this week in a company Medium post.

“Periscope is a place for instant engagement and we’ve heard your concerns about spammy accounts and chats,” they said to open their statement. Indeed, Periscope users had been reporting artificial hearts, followers, viewers, and chats for quite some time. And while the company’s 2016 measures to cut down on spam viewers and commenters were successful in curbing abuse and noise on the platform, many of these “fakes” persisted—with the help of YouTube videos and other tutorials to further the practice.

But by finding ways to conflate spam engagement and fake engagement, this new policy seems to give their management efforts new heft and meaning. “Any artificial hearts, chats, followers and views violate our spam rules, and so will selling or promoting fake engagement,” the company said. To make the reporting process easier when these behaviors do arrive, “[Periscope] also focusing on proactive enforcement to help make chat quality better, and will soon launch account-level spam reporting options to let you report spammy behavior more easily.”

The last company to take such aggressive action on fake accounts was Instagram, who removed thousands of accounts en masse to contain the problem in November 2018. The move was remarkable at the time, and frankly continues to be; a number of other platforms have failed to take meaningful measures to control spam or fake accounts. As we’re learning, these efforts can contribute not only to inflated viewer numbers, but an inflated sense of influence for those accounts – contributing to misinformation or misplaced online authority. By taking on this issue so pointedly, Periscope is standing apart from other platforms that shy away from the issue…including its parent company, Twitter.

“We are always looking for ways to make Periscope feel safer and more authentic for our community,” the company’s Medium post concluded. It’ll be interesting to see how these latest measures affect the Periscope user experience, as well as if it’ll push other platforms to be similarly stringent in managing the scourge of fake accounts and engagement.

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PODCAST: The Path Towards Greater Intelligence with Tania Yuki, Founder and CEO at Shareablee

This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast features Tania Yuki, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Shareablee, a social intelligence platform.

During the conversation, Tania discussed:

  • What inspired her to leave her cushy gig at a big media company to start Shareablee
  • How Shareablee differentiates itself from the competition
  • How she is thinking about the role of AI in regards to automation
  • What emerging trends she is seeing in the data and analytics space
  • And much more.

Listen to the full episode below:

Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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What Should We Expect When Facebook Releases Their ‘Clear History’ Privacy Tool?

In May 2018, an embattled Mark Zuckerberg announced before an audience at the company’s F8 Conference a forthcoming “Clear History” tool. Designed to allow users to remove data pulled by third-party applications and later applied to ad targeting, it was viewed at once as a lip service response to the still-fresh Cambridge Analytica scandal and a welcome feature for those concerned about the security of their data.

Up until very recently, the former notion has reigned.

But last week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom conference, Facebook CFO David Wehner brought up the tool again—this time to an audience that would be impacted considerably by the existence of such a tool: companies who profit from the ad data.

“A tool like Clear History could have a substantial impact on Facebook’s ability to target ads and generate revenue if enough users actively remove the information collected about their online activity,” The Verge’s Nick Statt correctly points out. And, as Slate agreed, by bringing the tool up in the environment where he did, Wehner showed that this feature is certifiably on its way. “These are people who have more of a vested interest in advertising-industry profits than they have in Facebook’s public image or its users’ privacy. So if it weren’t really happening, Wehner would have little incentive to bring it up.”

Wehner was vague about when the tool would arrive, saying only that it’d debut “later this year,” with Buzzfeed reporting that testing would begin this spring. And while it seems more clear that such a feature will make its debut before the year ends, questions still remain around its capability and fidelity.

Buzzfeed’s reporting on Clear History largely aimed to expose the gap between Facebook’s reported intentions for the tool, and its actual desire to protect user privacy. “[The company’s] communications around privacy have historically been opportunistic and protectionist, deployed to cover up for the last transgression from its ‘move fast and break things’ ideology,” they wrote after speaking with several former employees and critics. As such, there is already skepticism about what the tool will actually do for users.

The Center for Democracy and Technology’s Natasha Duarte notes, “it’s still unclear what the tool will allow users to delete,” recognizing that the ability to delete the information that enables targeting isn’t the same as erasing the impact that the information has had on the site algorithm. And Slate’s Will Oremus wonders if users will even be able to find the feature once it debuts:

“Facebook and other tech platforms specialize in manipulating users’ behaviors via the design of their products. So they know how to bury a feature when they don’t want many people to avail themselves of it. Such a move allows them to mollify privacy critics while maintaining the status quo for the vast majority of users who aren’t aware they can opt out.”

Ultimately, Facebook has to make a decision as to whether it truly wants to create a feature that offers users control over their experience, or if they just want to look as though they do. Presumably, we’ll know later this year when Clear History arrives on Facebook profiles worldwide.

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The post What Should We Expect When Facebook Releases Their ‘Clear History’ Privacy Tool? appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/03/what-should-we-expect-when-facebook-releases-their-clear-history-privacy-tool/