Elon’s blue check U-turn is a verified mess

...Nobody wants Elon’s embarrassing free gift 😏

Hello, geeks!

If you have just been gifted a blue check by Elon Musk, I won’t judge you.

Before we get into that… What is the world’s MOST confusing emoji? 🤔

Have a guess. Then  reveal the answer


There’s been a lot of drama in social media land this week…

Elon is giving free blue checkmarks to X influencers. Influencers are wondering what they did wrong to deserve this punishment.

Instagram Boss Adam Mosseri said we all need to focus on follower counts way less 🔢

And we discovered this guy might be the world’s best paid social media manager. 🤯 ($3 million!)

We’re going dig into all of this and more in a moment.



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Geekout’s pick of the hottest headlines in social this week:

  1. Elon Musk Gifts Blue Checks To X Influencers Who Really Don’t Want Them [DECLINING]

  2. Facebook’s New Full-Screen Video Player Looks A Lot Like TikTok [COPYCAT-ING]

  3. Instagram Boss Says Follower Counts Not A Good Indicator Of Account Value [REFOCUSING]

  4. Meta Might Pay Creators for Threads Posts If They Are Good Enough [INCENTIVISING]

  5. Yahoo Is Buying Artifact, The AI News App From The Instagram Co-Founders [ACQUIRING]

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Threads pays out (if you’re lucky)

Social platforms paying top creators is nothing new. Creator funds have been around for a few years now, paying high-performing creators based on specific criteria (or seemingly just because Elon Musk likes you, in the case of X).

The latest example comes from Meta’s Instagram division, which this week announced it is running a seasonal cash bonus programme that pays for engagement on Reels, photo carousels, and standard posts.

That seems fair enough, but Instagram is also running a cash bonus programme on Threads. As Business Insider explained:

“The program is testing with a small batch of creators in the US, but the company did not elaborate on how long it will run.

Eligible creators can earn money from Threads content based on the "performance" of posts or the "number of posts" shared to the app, per Instagram's help desk. The site also says Threads posts with "less than 2,500 eligible views" are not eligible for payouts.”

It seems the programme might be called 100 Rising Stars of Threads. And while it could be a fun way of encouraging some promising talent to post more, the question is where does this go?

If the programme ends, will the people taking part just post less again?

And if it opens up to a broader range of Threads users, what will it do to the quality of the content on the platform?

The easiest way to get your post to perform well on a platform like Threads or X is to make it shocking, anger-inducing, and often a stretch of the truth - if not an outright lie. Or you can just copy and paste other people’s jokes. Yuck.

While it’s hard to measure, X paying verified users for their highest performing content certainly didn’t seem to incentivise high-quality content. In fact, quite the opposite. And Meta itself saw real problems when it paid people to post on Facebook.

So I can’t see this programme lasting long. On an information-heavy, text-first platform, the incentives for cash bonuses are far too screwed up.

Maybe Threads should just bite the bullet and do a straightforward ad revenue share programme like YouTube? But with its eye on the quarterly results and its record stock market performance, Meta really won’t want to go down that route.


Elon finally figures checkmarks out

Things smell a little desperate at X right now. Elon Musk has been misrepresenting X’s traffic again, and it looks like the billionaire might have realised just how foolish it was to strip notable people of their verified checkmarks.

It turns out that if you’re notable, you probably have more important things to care about than a checkmark on a rapidly deteriorating platform. And so, many such people just didn’t pay.

Honestly, it’s played out exactly as anyone with any knowledge of how social media works predicted nearly 18 months ago when Musk took over.

And so now a big chunk of users (those who have more than 2,500 paid verified followers) have their checkmarks back. And, hilariously, many of these people really don’t want them.

Musk has made the checkmark–and X–so uncool that it seems unlikely the move will draw many notable users back to regular posting

However, there could be another reason for the move.

X seems to be focused on cleaning up its platform at the moment. It yesterday announced that “bots and trolls” were being rooted out and users might lose followers as a result. The company has also appointed two new safety chiefs.

With that in mind, verifying notable accounts just looks like a healthy thing for the platform to do to make it a reliable source of information... which is why the checkmark was introduced in the first place.

You got there in the end, Elon 🙄



Everything else worth knowing about from the past seven days…

♾️ Meta / Facebook

  • Meta’s AI image generator bug prevents it from imagining an Asian man with a white woman

  • Want to use a Quest VR headset? Now you’ll have to verify your age (above)

  • Meta has (again) denied that it let Netflix read users’ private messages.

  • Facebook has added a 'Feelings' sticker for Stories

✨ Instagram

🧵 Threads / WhatsApp

🤡 Twitter (‘X’)

  • Usage of Elon Musk’s X is down 30% in the U.S in 2024 in stark contrast to Elon’s sketchy stats 📉

  • X has warned that you might lose followers as it does another bot sweep

  • X working on an updated Explore page with Grok summaries of events

  • X is suing Jack Dorsey’s Block after an employee was fired for her (controversial and offensive) posts on the platform

  • X Job Search is now available on desktop

  • X appointed two new safety chiefs to rebuild relationships with advertisers and trust among users (too little, too late?)

📺 YouTube

📱 TikTok

  • TikTok has launched a STEM feed in Europe, starting with the UK and Ireland, following its success in the US (above) 🔬🧑‍🔬

  • TikTok is testing its own Instagram-style collections feature for Saved videos

  • TikTok Shop has increased its charges to sellers from 2% to 6% of the price of each order. It will rise to 8% in July.

  • TikTok users don't mind TikTok Shop posts, a new survey says…

  • …Which is good (if true) as TikTok says it has no plans to dial back the amount of shop content in your feed

💬 Telegram / Discord / LinkedIn / CapCut



When I’m quoted in the news, you’ll find it here:

I told CNN why X influencers don’t want Elon’s free gift…



Soren just keeps delivering the features apps should have…

Elon’s self-own…

Also, Threads has its first ‘main character’, as users have endlessly dunked on this guy’s attempt to explain a Beatles song… to a Beatle. It’s been all over users’ For You pages for hours…

Yikes! Don’t be a Beatlesplainer.



2024 wasn’t the greatest year for April Fools jokes.

When every day of the year is packed with viral misinformation, it can be hard to cut through. But there were still some good ones out there…

Domino’s was ready to settle and age-old argument:

And who’s ready for this extravaganza?




First it was Will Smith doing this, now Billie Eilish

Her social team (or a partnerships team at Instagram) is automatically adding followers to her close friends list to make them feel special.

If you know exactly how (it can’t be manual given the number of followers she has), let me know.

One thing’s for sure, fans love it …and it was a great way to promote Eilish’s next album.



“What was once a texting platform now runs the lives, businesses and political machinery of billions.”



“Astonishingly small”

Sony Music boss Rob Stringer breaks with the widespread view that TikTok is essential to the music industry.

He says TikTok gives an “astonishingly small” return compared with YouTube and warns Sony could follow Universal off the platform.



😮 WTF?!

An 18-second video from Discord received more than 1 BILLION views in a 24 hour period.

But the April Fools’ Day clip was apparently auto-playing on a loop in the background of the app… so it doesn’t really count.



Turns out Elon’s Grok A.I. chatbot is an excellent crime consultant. I assume the law is woke, or something.


  • Instagram’s A.I. image generator was briefly unable to generate any pictures of Asian people, after a report found it made weird mistakes around race



It’s every social media manager’s nightmare. The day is going swimmingly… and then a massive controversy blows up and it’s on you to handle it.

Here are some good insights on how to approach the problem:



Social media features heading for the graveyard:

Not all users had this feature, but anti-’woke’ Elon has removed pronouns from h** social platform.


  • It’s not quite social media, but it’s worth knowing that Google Podcasts has shut down in the US



All the ways A.I. is transforming social media:

A.I.-generated Stories could be on their way to Instagram:




– the percentage of Americans who support a TikTok ban. It’s really not very popular.



Social media usage in the U.S in 2024 by users age 12+:



  • An Instagram post by Katie Price promoted an ultra-low calorie diet without encouraging users to take medical advice, a regulator has ruled. [The Guardian]

  • Meta has contested an FTC privacy accord change over a 2019 bug in Messenger Kids. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • A Meta study says a special event it hosted shifted opinion on AI, and that it's planning more. [NBC News]

  • Meta cannot delay the US FTC from reopening privacy probe, a court has ruled. [Reuters $$$]

  • Meta has lost three more key A.I. staff. [Fortune]

  • Patreon will let creators on the platform assign community members as moderators. [The Verge]

  • Japan’s imperial family gained more than 350,000 followers after it posted 60 photos and five videos on its first day on Instagram. [Sky News]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook follow settings have a new look. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Facebook now shows a feedback score of 0-5 for your Page under Business Support. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Facebook is testing the ability to is share your promote your broadcast channel in your Page Story. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook is testing a new icon for Stories effects. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook is testing a new shortcut for "Professional Dashboard" in the app footer on the latest iOS beta. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook has added ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Top Fans’ stickers for Facebook Live videos. [@oncescuradu]


  • Instagram has added a shortcut to Add Yours templates before you create a story. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram has added a ‘Show as template’ options for Stories. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram is testing a new privacy option to allow posts to be visible in collections shared with others. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Instagram is testing the ability for Broadcast Channel admins to create their own channel theme using custom images. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Instagram could soon make it easier to block or restrict a group member. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram has updated the broadcast creation page with options to allow replies, and to show or hide your channel in your profile. [@theahmedghanem]


  • Messenger now lets you WhatsApp any business if they have linked their WhatsApp number to their page. [@theahmedghanem]


  • WhatsApp’s Chat Lock could soon support linked devices. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp for Android may soon get better video playback controls, which recently launched on iOS. [Android Central]

  • WhatsApp’s Business app is testing a new UI and options for account performance on iOS. [@theahemedghanem]

The rest: Creator Studio / Adtech / Quest and more:

  • Meta is rolling out a new Engaged Customers audience segment for Advantage+ shopping campaigns. [Jon Loomer]



  • X has rolled out support for posting Community Notes in India ahead of elections. [TechCrunch]

  • Yet another former Twitter exec is suing Elon Musk for millions in unpaid severance. [Mashable]



  • Ads funded by conservative dark money are targeting TikTok as “poison”. [Forbes $$$]

  • TikTok is spending millions on ads as Congress considers a bill that could lead to a US ban. [New York Times $$$]

  • TikTok’s unwritten rules for Israel-Gaza ads sparked internal outrage. [Forbes $$$]

  • Brands are weighing up their options in the face of a possible TikTok ban. [Marketing Brew]

  • Presidents Biden and Xi discussed the US TikTok bill one-on-one this week. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • A TikTok ban could be a diplomatic disaster for the US, according to a former Ex-White House CIO. [The Register]

  • Some US government pension funds have stakes in ByteDance, meaning a ban could be bad financially for many Americans. [Axios]

  • A former TikTok employee has filed complaints with the Department of Labor and IRS over the company’s management of stock options. [Fast Company]

  • TikTok has promised “exclusive access and behind-the-scenes content” for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. [Variety]

  • Former US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s plan to buy TikTok has some insiders bewildered. [Washington Post $$$]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok has added a new section in Activity Center for recently deleted posts. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok is testing a new type of search string for livestreams with focus on gaming. [@oncescuradu]



  • YouTubers have revealed how the platform's new affiliate-marketing program measures up to Amazon's and others — and why some aren't signing up for it. [Business Insider]

  • YouTube’s leadership is focused more on financial discipline than in the past. [The Information $$$]

  • Snap has announced its 2024 Partner Summit and Lens Fest. [Social Media Today]

  • Snap is looking for a revenue boost from political ads. [Business Insider]

  • Snap has launched an ‘Advanced Partner Program’, offering bulk invoice downloads and more. [Social Media Today]

  • Scammers have been taking over social media personalities' accounts. [BoingBoing]

  • Children's privacy must be a priority on social media, says the UK’s data protection regulator. [TechRadar]

  • LinkedIn is pushing its verification system again. [@lindseygamble_]

  • Chinese social media accounts are reportedly stoking political chaos ahead of the 2024 US presidential election. [Business Insider]

  • UK rules to safeguard kids online led to nearly 100 changes on social media, according to a US report. [NPR]

New features and tests:





Want that dopamine hit from a social post popping off without having to actually come up with something good? 🔥

Palmsy will send you fake likes and nothing else…



… This the bit where i tell you you’ve reached the end of this week’s Geekout.

To the 3 people who make it this far… Pour yourself a drink, you deserve it. 🥃

Next week… 
I’ve been invited to Meta’s London HQ for a special event all about A.I. 😮

Apparently I will get to try out Meta’s ‘latest innovations’ and hear from Meta’s top A.I. execs in a special panel session.

I will fill you all in on what went down, in next week’s Geekout.


Right… I’m heading off to check Elon has given out any more unwanted gifts.

Goodbye, geeks!

p.s. This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant

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