TikTok ‘ban’ bill gets President Biden’s seal of approval

…But TikTok isn’t going anywhere… yet 🚫

Hello, geeks!

TikTok has had a banging week, huh? Well, more banning, than banging.

More on that in a moment.

Before we get started… This is one of my fav quick-read newsletters for smart marketers. It’s free. Worth a look.


This week’s newsletter comes to you from Amsterdam. Well, sitting working in the AMEX lounge at Schiphol airport, to be precise. I have a SIX hour lay-over until my flight back to the UK departs. 😏

I’m on my way back from speaking at an event in Brussels. A big shout out to Joke De Nul and her team for hosting me and putting on a great little event. I had a blast. 👊

It also gave me chance to meet up with some Geekout Pro members (Vasilis Tsipolitis, Brian May) for a drink. Belgian beers at a stunning rooftop bar overlooking the city. Sneak a peek at few pics I shared. 👀 

And I had the perfect ride back to the airport to head home 😆


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Geekout with our hottest picks of the week:

  1. TikTok Ban Bill Passed By U.S. Senate and Signed by President [ESCALATING]

  2. Threads Now Has More Daily Active U.S. Users Than Elon Musk’s X [SURGING

  3. TikTok Voluntarily Suspends New Rewards App Amid E.U Regulator Concerns [PAUSING]

  4. Meta Starts Licensing Quest Headset OS In Battle With Apple [BATTLING]

  5. Elon Musk Vows to Fight Australian Injunction To Hide Church Stabbing Posts [DEFYING]


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TikTok’s troubles are just beginning…

So it finally happened. The US managed to pass a bill into law that forces ByteDance to sell TikTok within the next year, or face the app being banned from app stores in America.

But hold up - there’s no need to quit TikTok just yet. TikTok has vowed to fight a legal battle. CEO Shou Zi Chew told staff this was “the beginning, not the end” of the story.

In a video for users, Chew said: “The facts and the constitution are on our side. And we expect to prevail again”. TikTok also warned the law would trample free speech.

As you might expect, the Chinese government isn’t too happy, either. A piece in a newspaper close to the regime called the move a “robbery” that would “completely destroy American national credibility, which is already flawed”.

While there is an argument that the law fails the First Amendment test by limiting citizens’ free speech, experts have said it’s coin toss whether a legal challenge will succeed or not.

Look out for civil lawsuits fronted by creators, too. It’s a worrying time for creators who make their living from the platform. And a supply chain of workers far beyond that (and even creators outside the US!) face pain if TikTok disappears in the US.

It’s also a tricky time for investors with stakes in ByteDance, especially as no-one knows what TikTok is worth. Estimates place it at anywhere from $20 billion to $100 billion.

If ByteDance fails to get the law thrown out in court (which could take a long time), it might be the end of TikTok in the US as sources tell Reuters that ByteDance would prefer to shut the app down in the US than sell it. Its backend tech and algorithm is just too valuable for the company to let go of.

The tech behind TikTok is also used in its Chinese version, Douyin, for example. ByteDance needs it.

A sale might also expose just how intertwined ByteDance is with the supposedly separate TikTok. Despite all the PR about TikTok becoming more separate, a report from the Financial Times says they’re more intertwined than ever.

And it’s worth noting that ByteDance’s other apps, like Lemon8, CapCut and TikTok Notes could all be caught up in any shutdown, too

While TikTok’s US struggles are its most high profile battle, it has serious challenges elsewhere too. For example, it’s facing heat over TikTok Lite in the EU, it’s been banned in Kyrgyztan to "protect children", and it’s fighting a potential ban in Kenya.

All of these distractions and the sense of impending doom might mean it’s the end of TikTok as we know it, as staff become distracted or leave.

In the meantime, though, if you use TikTok there’s no reason to stop. It’s going to be active in the US at least into 2025, if not much longer.

And hey, it’s still being used for political campaigning, including by Joe Biden, who just signed the law into being, which says a lot.



Everything else you need to know from the past seven days…

Meta / Facebook 👤


WhatsApp 💬 / Threads 🧵

  • WhatsApp is close to releasing a feature for sharing with people nearby (above) 🛜

  • WhatsApp is rolling out support for Passkeys on iOS for more secure logins. They’re already supported on Android

  • WhatsApp testing a new in-app dialler to make quick calls to people not in your contacts list

  • Threads is testing the ability to archive posts manually or after a set period of time

  • Threads is adding the ability to hide posts containing specific keywords, plus quote post controls and the ability to mute notifications on specific posts

  • Zuck confirmed Threads has hits 150m monthly active users… as Elon’s X continues to slide

Twitter (‘X’) 🤡

YouTube 📺

TikTok 📱

LinkedIn / Snapchat / More… 👥

🔥 Want to see more hot NEW features spotted in the wild this week?
Just head to the ‘More news’ section below!



From the department of ‘it’s funny because it’s painfully true’:

Monica Lewinsky has good game on X. Just this week, she took a Taylor Swift lyrics meme and delivered this banger:



Here’s a massive own goal from Chick-Fil-A.

It should have loved the fact that an employee was posting popular and positive videos about its brand, but instead it made her stop 🙄



If you thought Mark Zuckerberg had grown a beard this week, you could be forgiven. The bearded Zuck meme was everywhere...

It started with Zuck’s video announcing new A.I. features at the end of last week, which someone decided spruce up to make it look like he was an aging member of N’Sync.

The memes quickly spread

Zuck himself clearly enjoyed the attention, posting a razor in subtle acknowledgement.

Meta even went further, sharing an ‘enhanced’ version of this week’s Horizon OS announcement from one of its accounts…



This is a good, short read about how Instagram is once again getting bloated with features.

Choice quote:

“Meta is a trillion-dollar company. It has over 80,000 employees that come together every day to advance the frontiers of social technology. How is this slapdash “f**k it, find it yourself” UX possibly what they landed on?”




He’s an "arrogant billionaire"… he “thinks he's above the law but also above common decency"

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is not impressed with Elon Musk


😮 WTF?!

If you thought copypasta was the preserve of placed like Tumblr and X, you’d be wrong. This “WORK from HOME” text has been spreading like wildfire among LinkedInfluencers and wannabes alike:




You’d think this would fall safely in the ‘not allowed’ category of ads on Instagram…


  • Meta’s A.I. assistant is really annoying some users

  • YouTube rowed back on a redesign of its video pages after users really hated it



Social media features heading for the graveyard:

Bad news for charities in Europe using Facebook's fundraising tools: Meta is ditching them in the European Economic Area, and telling you to send donors to your website instead.

Unhelpfully, Meta hasn’t explained why it’s killing the feature.




Nospace, a social app inspired by Myspace, launches at the end of this month (there’s currently a 380k+ person waitlist).



LinkedIn has published a handy one-pager, sharing tips for making the most of vertical video:



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

TikTok could soon leverage AI to clone your voice:



There have been a bunch of quarterly financial results from big social media parent companies this week. Here’s what we learned:

Meta had good news for shareholders:

  • Revenue is up 27% and profit has more than doubled in the first quarter.

  • Revenue was $36.5 billion in the first quarter, up from $28.6 billion a year ago.

  • Profit was $12.4 billion, up from $5.7 billion a year earlier.

  • …but Meta's Reality Labs posted a $3.85 billion loss in Q1 2024

  • YouTube Q1 ad revenue climbed 21% to $8 billion, its highest Q1 total to date

  • Snap’s Q1 revenue grew 21% year-over-year to $1.195 billion. Snapchat’s DAUs grew to 422 million, up 10% year-over-year. Snapchat+ has grown to more than 9 million subscribers in Q1, and the total time spent watching Spotlight content is up more than 125% year-over-year

  • LinkedIn now has more than 1 billion ‘members’ in over 200 countries, as it claims to have seen record engagement levels yet again



150 million

– The number of monthly active users Threads now has, a rise of 20 million in the last two months

  • TikTok now has 142 million users in the EU, a rise from the 135.9 million it reported in October 2023

  • Both the Biden and Trump campaigns saw 60% declines in their average engagement per Facebook post with double-digit declines on Instagram

  • “London lifestyle” is the most popular destination-related search on Pinterest, up 340% on last year



Unless the US government explains the TikTok divestment law to the public, there will be a lot of unhappy people if the app disappears in America:



  • Mozilla has urged WhatsApp to combat misinformation ahead of big elections around the world. [Engadget]

  • Former Oculus CTO John Carmack doesn't think Meta Horizon OS is a good idea. [Upload VR]

  • Meta AI is restricting election-related responses in India. [TechCrunch]

  • Mark Zuckerberg says it will take Meta years to make money from generative A.I. [The Verge]

  • The Dutch privacy watchdog has recommended government organisations stop using Facebook. [Reuters $$$]

  • Meta shares took a $125 billion hit as the company raised its spending forecast. [Sky News]

  • Meta could face a further squeeze on its ‘surveillance’ ads model in the EU… [TechCrunch]

  • … Due to an An EU court adviser backing data privacy activist Max Schrems in his fight against Meta. [Reuters $$$]

  • Fraudsters are getting fake BBC News articles onto Facebook. [BBC News]

  • Meta’s Llama 3 large language model is a hit with developers. [The Information $$$]

  • Meta will hold an ads showcase event at Newfronts 2024. [Social Media Today]

  • Mark Zuckerberg says Meta got lucky. It hoarded GPUs to improve it’s algorithm, before the generative A.I. boom hit and they were suddenly hot property for tech companies. [Business Insider]

  • New Meta patents reveal a possible future wristband device for Quest Headsets, plus a smartwatch and smartglasses. [Patently Apple]

  • Mark Zuckerberg says 'feedback loops' will be more important for training A.I. models than data. [Business Insider]

  • Meta has joined other tech companies in committing to new principles designed to “mitigate potential risks of generative AI.”. [Meta Newsroom]

  • No, you can’t opt out of Meta AI, despite what Meta AI tells you. [Fast Company]

  • Meta Quest subscriptions could soon to be charged in local currencies in Scandinavia, Switzerland & New Zealand. [Road to VR]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook is testing a ‘Nearby’ feed for Reels. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook now lets you add polls to Reels posts. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Facebook has added a cropping feature to Reels, letting you automatically or manually crop your video to fit the Reels format. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook’s ‘share to Threads’ feature now lets you choose ‘always’ or ‘once’. [@jonahmanzano]


  • Instagram wants users to add their Facebook Page to their bios. [@lindseygamble_]


  • WhatsApp is working on adding like notifications for status updates. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is testing a new image attachment page. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp could soon let Community admins hide their groups from the public eye. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is testing an event scheduling feature for Communities. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is working on on a tool to help you manage favourite contacts. [Android Police]

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

  • Meta is working on a framework to port 2D apps to Horizon OS. [Upload VR]



  • X’s ad sales team are touting A.I.-powered search, peer-to-peer payments, and premium content, as well as enhanced performance to advertisers. [Digiday $$$]

  • There are rising calls in the US for the reinstatement of X, which was banned two months ago. [Fast Company]

  • A Brazilian court has ordered the suspension of around 150 X accounts alleged run by ‘digital militias’. [Fast Company]



  • TikTok’s crackdown on Ozempic influencers threatens the weight-loss drug’s hype machine. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Did TikTok videos inspire a teen’s suicide? His mom says she found graphic evidence. [NBC News]

  • TikTok Shop is being picky, forcing Chinese merchants to sneak onto the platform. [The Information $$$]

  • ByteDance has promoted the head of its A.I. development. [The Information $$$]

  • IGN has partnered with TikTok to Launch the IGN Live Creator Experience. [TechTimes]

  • TikTok has launched a new STEM content competition. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok has added an option called Smart Trim when editing. [@jonahmanzano]

  • TikTok is testing the ability for creators to delegate their Creator Marketplace presence to a talent manager. [@jonahmanzano]

  • TikTok now notifies you if someone mentions you in their bio. [@theahemedghanem]



  • TikTok and Meta aren’t labelling state propaganda about the war in Gaza, as they promised they would. [Forbes $$$]

  • Europol has joined the chorus of law enforcement beggingBig Tech to ditch end-to-end encryption. [The Register]

  • Synthetic opioids previously linked to UK deaths are being supposedly being advertised for sale on X and SoundCloud. [The Guardian]

  • Telegram downloads have not fallen since Apple removed it from China App Store, the app’s founder claims. [Reuters $$$]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • LinkedIn has shared tips to help B2B marketers make the most of the platform. [Social Media Today]

  • A beginner's guide to social media for solopreneurs. [Buffer]

New features and tests:

  • YouTube is moving to the AV1 codec on Android, but some users are worried about the impact on battery life. [Android Police]

  • Manhattan's DA wants to know why YouTube is pushing 'ghost gun' tutorials to kids. [Engadget]

  • Reddit’s new Dynamic Product Ads are entering public beta globally. [Ars Technica]

  • LinkedIn has added new fitlers to the messaging inbox. [@lindseygamble_]

  • Telegram is set to allow Tether stablecoin payments. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Snapchat has been spotted offering a time-limited discount for Snapchat+. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Bluesky is backing a project that would let Mastodon apps like Ivory work with its network. [TechCrunch]

  • Substack rival Ghost has confirmed it will join the fediverse this year. [TechCrunch]

  • Tinder has added a ‘Share My Date’ feature for users to send date plans to their curious friends. [TechCrunch]

  • Google is testing discussion and forum questions with the Answers box in Search. [SEO Roundtable]



“As LinkedIn grows in popularity, big PR firms now offer services to help execs build their presence on the platform and become influencers.”



What’s happening with Mark Zuckerberg’s image overhaul? Are there pricey consultants picking his clothes? Meta says no…

“The robotic nerd depicted in “The Social Network” has turned into the kinder, more accessible face of Silicon Valley. What’s going on?”



… And that’s your social media debriefing for this week. Done ☑️👊

Social media IQ points: +4 ▲


Geekout Gathering - Hamburg Edition…

I will be heading to Hamburg, Germany to speak at the OMR event, May 7-8.

Will you be going? Or do you live in / near Hamburg? Let’s meet-up! 

Drop me a reply to this email if you're interested.


Right folks… I’m heading off to watch the end of Baby Reindeer on Netflix. So good!

With the way my luck runs on Tinder, I will probably match with Martha any day now.

Goodbye geeks!

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

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