Leading up to U.S. presidential elections last November, Facebook, along with other social media platforms, tightened their policies over politically induced content. Their goal was to stave off a potential repeat of 2016’s elections when social media unfairly influenced the results of the polling period. Now, after the events of last year’s elections and this year’s riots, Facebook is making it permanent. Facebook will no longer recommend any political groups for good, as reported by Reuters.
Prior to the new policy, lawmakers had persistently called Facebook out for continuing to foment hate across the platform. Despite the promises, inciteful parties kept using the platform to recruit new members and spread misinformation through niche groups.
As it usually works, Facebook suggests groups for users with similar interests. If the algorithm determines that you might like far right groups, it will continue to suggest similar ones that you might like.
Even then, sneaky conspirators can easily dupe the system by, for example, creating a seemingly innocuous group and, when the group finally has enough members, slowly inculcating them into controversial belief systems.
At the very least, Facebook is doing something to lessen the effect of social media manipulation. However, we’ll have to see how the platform will enforce the new policy going forward.
Twitter starts rolling out more emoji reactions
It’s an experiment for now
Twitter has a tried-and-tested palette of engagement options. Users can retweet, comment, or like tweets on the platform. However, the company has teased more emoji reactions coming to the platform soon. That time has finally come. Twitter is officially testing an additional set of emoji reactions for the platform.
Twitter is rolling out the new emojis in Turkey first for a limited time. The heart icon — or the platform’s like button — will have four additional options added: 😂, 🤔, 👏 and 😢. As such, Twitter users in Turkey can tailor their engagement with posts even better.
Notably, the new palette of reactions doesn’t really include a negative reaction. Despite adding a plethora of new features, Twitter is steering clear from facilitating negativity on the platform. The company even added a “dislike” button but doesn’t want to refer to it as a dislike button. In the same vein, the new emoji reactions don’t direct any negative emotion against anyone.
However, though the new feature adds a lot of flavor for Twitter, the experiment is still just that: an experiment set for a limited time. The company is still testing whether users will warmly accept the new reactions with open arms or not use it entirely. If the experiment is successful, the company has confirmed that it might expand the feature for other territories.
Twitter Communities will rival Facebook Groups
Twitter is pushing for a more expansive social media platform outside of its traditional tweeting system. The platform has added more and more features throughout the past year. Most recently, it added a Super Follows feature that the company had confirmed previously. Now, Twitter is adding another feature: Twitter Communities.
Complete with its own official Twitter account, Twitter Communities will compete against Facebook Groups, a long-standing feature of the latter’s platform. Much like Facebook Groups, those with access to the feature can create communities based on specific interests.
imagine an alternate timeline where everyone just gets you
say hi to Communities—the place to connect with people who Tweet like you. testing now on iOS and web, Android soon! pic.twitter.com/TJdKwUa4D2
— Twitter Communities (@HiCommunities) September 8, 2021
After using the feature, community creators can invite an unlimited number of members into the community. On the other hand, other members get five invites per community for now.
Members of the community can then tweet and set their messages exclusive to other members of the same community. These tweets will pop up in their timelines and allow them to participate.
As such, the community is still publicly viewable. However, only members can participate in these threads.
Though the feature is already publicly available, participating in the feature is still gradually rolling out. For one, communities are invite-only for now. Secondly, there are only a handful of communities available right now. Twitter expects to launch more communities in the future, though. Interested creators can apply for their own community through the company’s website.
TikTok overtakes YouTube in hours watched
Livestreaming is also on the rise
TikTok’s last few years were stormy, to say the least. The Chinese company was recently a target of geopolitical bans, owing to its origins in China. The previous Trump administration waged a prolonged war against the social media platform, almost leading to an all-out ban in the United States. The situation is much calmer now, and the platform is thriving once again. TikTok has reportedly overtaken YouTube in watch time.
According to an analytical firm App Annie, TikTok already blazed past YouTube back in August 2020. In the United States, an average TikTok user watches 24 hours of content monthly. Meanwhile, an average YouTube user watches only 22 hours and 40 minutes.
Other territories reflect the same trend, too. In the United Kingdom, TikTok users watch 26 hours monthly compared to only 16 hours for YouTube users.
Though both apps are still comfortable in their own respective niches, the trend indicates both TikTok’s rise over other video platforms. Amid the supposed bans, TikTok is still flourishing.
Besides the comparison between TikTok and YouTube, the report also reveals the meteoric rise of livestreaming. Livestreaming content has already taken the lead over traditional photo and video content in the middle of 2018. The format surged even stronger during the height of the ongoing pandemic. Users are currently watching 548.7 billion hours on livestreaming platforms (above 456.4 billion for traditional photo and video). YouTube, for one, is already pushing hard for more livestreaming to supplement their usual content.
However, as a caveat, the report only focuses on Android. There is still a small possibility that other platforms can sway the trend the other way; regardless, the trend is real, and it’s potentially here to stay.
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