The death of the Blue Tick

Death... verified

Hello, geeks…

The [social media] village idiot has been busy again. 🥸

But first… It’s been a scary and exciting week for me. I’d love your support. So… If you only tap on ONE link in this week’s Geekout… Tap this one. ❤️

Back to the village idiot….

I try hard every week to limit the Elon bashing. I know some of you are tired of the endless Twitter-related news. Me too. But when you’re being a moronic asshole and destroying my favorite social media platform… You’ll get my attention.

On a more cheery note… This was by far the BEST Twitter moment this week. 💀

It created the ultimate Twitter version of Deal or No Deal. And people were hooked by the drama. There were even conspiracy theories… And I was so close to winning… But then I got screwed and trashed the place. Before we had this emotional ending 😆

Anyway… We’ll get into the details about Elmo dialling up his clown setting to 11 this week, in a bit.

But for now, this free twitter tool is 👌 😆

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Right… Let’s get into it. These were the hottest headlines in social this week:


  1. Twitter Legacy Blue Ticks Remain Despite Elon Musk Threat [CHECKED OUT]

  2. TikTok Fined £12.7M by UK Regulator For Misusing Children’s Data [TICKED OFF]

  3. Twitter Revealed How Its Recommendation Algorithm Works [OPEN SOURCED]

  4. Spotify Shutdown Its Clubhouse-Style Audio App Spotify Live [OVER AND OUT]

  5. Meta Previewed Its Generative AI Tools For Ads + VR World Creation [FUTURE META]

I’ve tracked and checked EVERY social media news article this week, so you don’t have to. Literally 100’s of them.

These updates are most worthy of your attention:

Messenger added 14 new games you can play with friends on video calls… Sharing images with friends in Instagram DMs looks fancier now… Instagram was spotted working on these new features: 1. Trim videos for stories. 2. Reels video download controls. 3. Ability to @mention in Notes. 4. Collaborative friends discovery feed.

WhatsApp is testing an Instagram Stories-style text editor… And the recently discovered WhatsApp Newsletters feature may now be called ‘Channels’... And WhatsAppis also testing a ‘Share Status to Facebook Story’ feature.


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Stay ahead with every story you read.

Twitter’s new perk for Twitter Blue subscribers promises 50% less ads. (But there’s a catch)... Twitter algorithm specifically labels and tracks the performance of Elon’s tweets (and other weird things)... Twitter cut off Substack from embedding tweets… It also cut off hundreds of apps from its API (even those willing to pay $42k a month for access)...

Twitter labelled U.S. news outlet NPR as state-affiliated media (Elon mocked them, then backtracked)... Twitter also changed the label for verified accounts making it harder to identify who paid for a blue tick… And Twitter failed to scare legacy verified users into paying for Twitter Blue.

Well-known brands increased their ad spend on TikTok despite the threat of U.S. ban… TikTok quietly rolled out affiliate commissions for U.S. creators… YouTube rolled out ‘Reactions’ for live streams… YouTube added a Podcast tab to channel pages… Snapchat added guard rails to its AI chatbot… And added a generative AI profile backgrounds feature for Snapchat+ subscribers.

Discord added a soundboard feature and ‘super reactions’ for Nitro subscribers… Twitch streamers raged about the platform’s latest monetisation experiments taking more of their earnings… Substack launched ‘Notes’ which looks a lot like Twitter… Twitter-alternative ‘Post’ is now open to everyone… And LinkedIn rolled out ‘Suggested posts’ and new search tools


  • ALGORITHMS: 10 Things Marketers Need to Know About Twitter’s Algorithm [REVEAL TRUTHS]

  • 💰 PRO TIPS: 12 Tips to Boost Donations When Fundraising on Social Media [REVEAL TIPS]

  • 🛠️ TOP TOOLS: 4 Free Tools to Identify Twitter Legacy vs. Paid Blue Ticks [REVEAL TOOLS]

I hope you found those bits and pieces useful!

Let’s zoom in on the biggest stories this week. Elon is the biggest idiot in the social media village, again. Geekout analysis of the top talking points is coming up next 👇

– Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

As last Saturday rolled around, Twitter’s legacy verified users expected to start losing their checkmarks as Elon Musk had promised. But then… nothing happened.

Was it just too hard to do? Removing a checkmark is apparently a clunky, manual process. Would they have had to remove each individually?

Or as it just too controversial? With the White House refusing to roll over, saying it wouldn’t pay for checkmarks and more celebrities joining the chorus of ‘no thanks’, Twitter faced a situation where spoof stars would be ‘verified’ but the real deals wouldn’t.

By Sunday, Twitter appeared to have backtracked, with new text to describe checkmarks that made it impossible to tell who was legacy verified and who was a Blue subscriber. That was pretty unhelpful to users (although Chrome extensions exist to help), but would provide cover to abandon ‘the great unchecking’.

All this came in the same week that a new report from Similarweb estimated there were only 116,000 Twitter Blue sign-ups out of 2.6 million people who visited Twitter in March. The numbers look bleak for Twitter Blue’s success. It's estimated less than 1% of users subscribe to Twitter Blue.

Will the new ‘see half the ads’ feature drive more subscriptions? Well, it’s not strictly true that you’ll see half the ads, so maybe not.

Musk has learned that taking the ‘exclusive’ air away from checkmarks makes them far less appealing. As The Verge put it, “trying to be cool is not cool, and paying to be cool is for suckers”.

Case in point: Twitter removed the New York Times’ free gold check on Musk’s orders this week. Musk called the NYT hypocritical for selling subscriptions while refusing to pay for a Twitter subscription. But he forgot that people subscribe to the NYT because they want what it offers.

Twitter labelling NPR as ‘US-state affiliated media’. shows it doesn’t really understand the value of accurate identity verification for users, and cares more about Musk’s personal worldview. NPR isn’t happy, although it seems Musk might be backtracking (and perhaps he needs to look at his own companies, too!)

Still, even if Twitter couldn’t remove all those legacy checkmarks, it was trivially easy to get @verified to unfollow everyone… meaning it’s harder to tell who was legacy verified in the first place.

A promise Elon Musk did deliver on in the past week was open-sourcing Twitter’s source code for its recommendation algorithm.

Musk explained “[the] acid test is that independent third parties should be able to determine, with reasonable accuracy, what will probably be shown to users. No doubt, many embarrassing issues will be discovered, but we will fix them fast!”

And there sure was an embarassment. It turns out Twitter groups users into four categories: Democrat, Republican, “Power User”, and Elon Musk. Musk ended a Space chat about the algorithm straight after this was pointed out to him. Oops.

The release of the algorithm spawned threads like this and guides like this packed with tips for getting more impact from your tweets.

But the code doesn’t necessarily show as much as you think, because it missed a lot of what else goes on around it:

The code Twitter shared was a “highly redacted” version of Twitter’s algorithm, according to Sol Messing, associate professor at NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics and former Twitter employee. For one, it didn't include every system that plays a role in Twitter’s recommendations.

Twitter said it was withholding code dealing with ads, as well as trust and safety systems in an effort to prevent bad actors from gaming it. The company also opted to withhold the underlying models used to train its algorithm, explaining in a blog post last week that this was to “to ensure that user safety and privacy would be protected.”

That decision is even more consequential, according to Messing. “The model that drives the most important part of the algorithm has not been open-sourced,” he tells me. “So the most important part of the algorithm is still inscrutable.”

Karissa Bell, Engadget

So while the code release is interesting, don’t expect it to give you all the answers for instant viral success.

Social audio was the big hit trend of the early pandemic lockdowns, as it helped satisfy our longing for human contact.

But just as tech giants hired too many people to boost their ecommerce and ads efforts in those heady days when it felt like physical shops were permanently dead, they over-invested in social audio, too.

Meta took about a year to backtrack from its big audio push, and Clubhouse quickly lost its lustre.

And while Twitter Spaces continues to be used, and Discord’s Stages have niche community uses, news that Spotify is killing its social audio service feels like the moment where the trend can be declared dead.

Spotify bought a sports audio chat app called Locker Room for €57 million to “evolve and expand into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans” in 2021. And although that happened, it never really took off because social audio’s moment was gone before it really started.

It’s a reminder that getting too excited about ‘the next big thing’ and making overly bold predictions about its impact more often than not leaves you hoping everyone forgets you ever said anything.

😆 LOL tweets

Soren’s fake LinkedIn features are always close to the bone!

📈 Going viral

The new Barbie movie trailer lit a meme fire this week…

…but studio Warner Bros was fully aware of this movie’s meme-ability and created a Barbie Selfie Generator so you can easily get involved.

Meanwhile, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “I wish you well” to the guy lost against her in court also became a social media moment.

Want more Barbie and Gwyneth memes? Digg has a great roundup.

🐣 Brand Twitter

Brands got in on the Barbie action too (you can find a good roundup of brands’ Barbie fun over here):

Meanwhile, Domino’s took a leaf out of Elon’s book and went doge. Nicely done!

😮 WTF?!

This is an amazing story - the winning student’s video was shot at the moment he set the challenge. Sometimes success is all about seizing the moment.


  • France has new rules for influencers, including having to clearly disclose if they are using a filter OR if their face and/or body have been Photoshopped…. and there a huge fines or even a PRISON sentence if they don’t.

🔨 New tools

Cropping long videos down to YouTube Shorts clips is a real pain, but Suggested Shorts uses A.I. to find the best clips, and chops them up for you. Well worth a try!


  • If you’re in the EU, this tool will let you opt out of receiving targeted ads from Meta. Live anywhere else? You’re out of luck - Meta only lets EU citizens opt out.

🤦 Fails of the week

The ‘metaverse’: still appealing far more to brands than actual people:


Features and apps heading to the graveyard:


💡 New feature spotlight

This will be really useful for those particularly personal chats… or if you just really don’t trust your friends.

👀 Top reads


🗣️ Industry chatter

Is it worth devoting a lot of time to ByteDance’s Lemon8 as it grows? The jury’s still out on how long it will be a hit.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know 👇

🗯️ What he said 👇

🤫 Geek gossip

Judging by this, TikTok isn’t too worried about a ban…

🧵 Top threads

As I mention above, you should take threads like these with a pinch of salt as the code Twitter released doesn’t tell the full story about how Twitter ranks tweets.

But it’s still well worth giving these two a read in full…

📄 New research

There’s been plenty of talk about the push to get users to pay for social media, but what do actual users think…?

💬 You can quote me on that

When I’m mentioned in the news, you’ll find it here…

I spoke to Vox about my addiction to voice notes:


📈 Charts of the week


Meta News

  • … and Mark Zuckerberg is spending most of his time on A.I. [CNBC]

  • News now makes up less than 3% of what people see on Facebook. [NiemanLab]

  • Influencers say Instagram's creator marketplace is full of low pay rates and lacks traction with brands. [Insider $$$]

  • Meta is the hottest tech stock, having surged 140% since November. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Meta’s layoffs have heavily impacted its support for influencers and businesses. [CNBC]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • How can brands make use of Instagram DMs? Meta has some suggestions. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook has added a ‘Broadcast’ channel type for Groups. [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook’s mobile apps now pops up the share panel when you take a screenshot of a post. [@prabodhaonline]


  • Instagram now has an option to ‘snooze’ suggested’ posts. [@howfxr]

  • Instagram now lets users add a text or a sticker from the editing menu. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram can now let you trim videos longer than a minute to post them as Stories. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram is still working on the ability to add a custom feed to the Explore page that would let you discover posts with friends. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram has been spotted offering revamped Reels achievements badge designs. [@BusMark_w_Nika]

  • Instagram now lets you find Reels that you shared with your friends and discover new Instagram channels from messages search. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Instagram could soon show the live ring in the message list view. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is still working on its 'mysterious’ ‘Barcelona’ app. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram could soon let you switch on an option to let viewers download your Reels videos. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is still working on a birthday celebration feature. [@alex193a]


  •  Messenger now lets you play multiplayer games during video calls. [Engadget]


  • WhatsApp could soon keep your private chats hidden from nosy friends with a ‘locked chats’ feature. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is testing a text editor for images. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is working on a bottom navigation bar for its Android app. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp’s ‘Newsletters’ feature (still unreleased) is now called Channels. [WABetaInfo]

VR, adtech, and more:

  • Meta is working on a way to create ads with A.I. [TechCrunch]

  • Meta has released an AI model that can identify items within images. [Reuters $$$]

  • Meta has revamped its comment moderation tool with a ‘virtual moderator’. [@oncescuradu]

  • Meta Business Suite now lets you invite people who reacted to your posts from last week to follow your page. [@JackHorwood]

Twitter News

  • …but Twitter has reinstated at least one app. [@tibo_maker]

  • Twitter changed its logo to a doge for a few days as a joke, sending dogecoin ‘to the moon’. [TechCrunch]

  • Advertisers are still wary about Elon Musk as he prepares to speak at a big marketing conference. [Semafor]

  • Twitter has been accused of censorship in India after it blocked critics of the government. [The Guardian]

  • Twitter appears to be making it more difficult to see tweets sent via DM that relate to some LGBTQ+ topics. [Insider]

  • Twitter has been sued by more former employees over the layoff process. [Gizmodo]

  • …and more companies are suing Twitter for allegedly unpaid bills. [Insider]

  • …and Twitter could be facing slew of fines in Germany over illegal hate speech. [TechCrunch]

  • …but a senior lawyer at Twitter has resigned. [New York Times $$$]

  • Twitter has removed the Status feature in its latest Android release. [@alex193a]

  • Twitter has warned ex-employees not to badmouth the company. [@ZoeSchiffer]

New features and tests:

  • Twitter will soon launch encrypted DMs, custom emoji reactions for DMs, and audio chats in DMs, Elon Musk says. [@MattNavarra]

  • Twitter has revamped its visual branding offerings for advertisers. [Social Media Today]

  • Twitter has tweaked the way Community Notes asks contributors for help with fact-checks. [@CommunityNotes]

TikTok News

  • TikTok is offering sellers testing its shopping program big incentives to kickstart its ecommerce business. [Insider $$$]

  • TikTok and ByteDance have spent more than $16 million on federal lobbying in the US since 2019. [Politico]

  • Revenue at TikTok’s owner ByteDance rose more than 30% in 2022, topping $80 Billion. [The Information $$$]

  • A TikTok ban in the US could affect creators elsewhere in the world, who rely on American viewers. [Rest of World]

  • China is running a pro-TikTok propaganda campaign. [New York Times $$$]

  • …but TikTok’s lawyers reportedly actua-LOLed at the idea of a ban actually happening. [The Verge]

  • Vietnam says TikTok isn’t doing enough to remove toxic and false content. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Advertising on TikTok in the US grew by 11% in March. [Financial Times $$$]

  • Australia is the latest country to ban TikTok on government devices. [Reuters $$$]

  • …and Australia’s ABC is the latest broadcaster to rethink its use of TikTok. [The Guardian]

  • TikTok has announced at slate of Earth Month content. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok is quietly rolling out affiliate commissions for US creators in its shopping programme. [Insider $$$]

  • TikTok has added a ‘create sticker’ option. [@jonah_manzano]

  • TikTok now has an ‘Open TikTok on Mute’ feature. [@jonah_manzano]

  • TikTok has been spotted offering a ‘photo mode’ on its camera. [@crisu_avadanei]

  • TikTok has been spotted having swapped the position of the ‘Following’ and ‘For you’ feeds and added a TikTok Live widget button. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok’s ‘edit post’ button is rolling out across more of the world. [@oncescuradu]

💥 More social media news and updates

  • The BBC’s social media rules review will be conducted by ITN’s former CEO. [Deadline]

  • ByteDance’s Lemon8 social app has a problem with fake brand accounts. [AdAge $$$]

  • Truth Social’s traffic has surged since Donald Trump’s indictment. [New York Times $$$]

  • Telegram is reportedly a hotbed of hackers. [TechRadar]

  • UK regulators have warned influencers of risks of promoting NFTs and cryptocurrencies. [The Guardian]

  • A YouTuber was given a copyright strike for an A.I.-generated Eminem rapping about cats. [Motherboard]

  • YouTube will livestream all six Coachella stages this year. [9to5Google]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

New features and tests:

  • YouTube is rolling out reactions on livestreams. [Search Engine Journal]

  • YouTube’s channel pages now have a dedicated 'Podcasts' tab. [9to5Google]

  • LinkedIn has added algorithmically suggested posts to boost engagement. [Social Media Today]

  • LinkedIn is making it easier to share images with a new way to upload images. [@MattNavarra]

  • LinkedIn is rolling out new personalized feed features, suggested posts and enhanced search tools. [Search Engine Journal]

  • Snapchat has added new safeguards around its AI chatbot after controversy around how children were using it. [TechCrunch]

  • Snapchat now offers paying subscribers an ‘A.I.-powered backgrounds’ feature. [Social Media Today]

  • Pinterest has expanded its Creator Inclusion Fund to Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. [Pinterest Newsroom]

  • Twitch is testing a range of sponsored stream initiatives. [@TwitchSuppport]

  • …although Twitch streamers aren’t all thrilled. [TubeFilter]

  • Discord has rolled out its soundboard feature along with new themes, seasonal avatar decorations and more for Nitro subscribers. [Engadget]

  • Substack has launched a Twitter-style ‘Notes’ feature. [TechCrunch]

  • Twitter alternative Post is now open to all. [TechCrunch]

  • Jack Dorsey’s Twitter alternative, Bluesky is building a ‘marketplace of algorithms’. [Engadget]

  • Clubhouse has been spotted offering search for communities via your device’s location. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Signal could soon let you export a report about your account data. [@alex193a]

📖 Weekend reading

😳 And finally...

MrBeast has long been recognised as a successful businessman, but getting to speak at one of the most prestigious business schools in the world really nails in that reputation…

📅 Back next week...

…And that’s a wrap on this week’s Geekout. 💪✅

I won’t keep you here a moment longer.

I hope you like Geekout PRO. The members-only VIP chat room is 🔥 and worth the $6 alone. Join here for immediate access.

Have an awesome weekend, folks.

Goodbye, geeks.

– Matt


This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant

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