Elon watches news on X burn

…along with his $44 billion

Hello, geeks

Trigger warning… This week’s Geekout is a bit of a “FFS Elon” edition. 🚨

But first… Did you know about this very useful TikTok trick? 😮

So… I was struggling to put into words how I feel about Elon’s latest BS change to X. 

I think Mike (NYT) Isaac eloquently sums it up:

Social media managers working for news publishers… We feel your pain. More on this in a moment.

In other news… My Threads account got a viral boost this week. Mark Zuckerberg liked one of my posts. 🔥❤️

I assumed it was his social media manager. Apparently not… He replied! And if you’re interested to know how much of an algorithmic boost getting a like/comment from Zuck gives you… 📈 Answers here.

A few quick bits of housekeeping…

  • NOT SPAM: Prevent Geekout Newsletter going to your spam folder. Quickly add my email address as a contact in Gmail, Outlook etc.

  • COLLABS & PARTNERSHIPS: Want to collaborate with me? Webinars, podcasts, sponsorships, event speaking, something else… Let's talk. Just reply to this email!

  • GOODBYE TWITTER: I’m planning to stop posting social media news updates on X. Want to keep getting my updates?  Join my WhatsApp News Alerts Channel (expense it for work 😉)

And… I think i broke my eyes. Seriously, take a look! 😵‍💫😳

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🔥 Geekout Hot 5

  1. X Strips Headlines From News Links Because Elon Thinks It Looks Better [FFS ELON]

  2. Meta Plans To Charge €13 a Month For Ad-Free Instagram + Facebook [CUNNING PLAN]

  3. TikTok Testing $4.99 Ad-Free Subscription Plan [NOT YOU AS WELL!]

  4. Meta’s AI Assistant Trained On Public Instagram + Facebook Posts [OF COURSE IT DID]

  5. ADL Resumes Advertising On X Following Hate Speech Clash [WON’T LAST LONG]

New & Noteworthy

All the other big news you need to know about this week:

Meta / Instagram / Threads / Facebook

Meta wants to juice up Threads and will reportedly hold focus groups with creators and lean into news and live events… Threads latest growth hacking tactic spotted on Instagram… Meta is paying creators millions to use their likeness in its A.I. chatbots...

Credit: @_Youssef

Facebook now shows the number of ‘Sends’ on posts (relevance of private sharing rising)…. You will soon be able to share your Instagram Story with multiple lists of friends (up to 250 people per list).

Twitter (‘X’)

X is planning three tiers of paid subscription with different amounts of ads… Elon’s big plans for X focus on shopping and sports as it looks to attract new users… X signed a live shopping deal with Paris Hilton (famous in the 00’s, but now?)…

Elon Musk says X will remove likes and reposts counts from posts in main timeline…. Apple has stopped offering customer support on X (and other social platforms)… X is playing around with a game streaming feature.

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TikTok / YouTube

TikTok shut down its Shop feature in Indonesia following a new law… Paramount posted the whole of Mean Girls in 13 parts on TikTok, for one day only (i hope this doesn’t catch on)… There’s more p*rn on YouTube than you’d think, if you know where to look… And a YouTube bug even let people upload ‘undeletable’ explicit videos (eek!)

Snapchat / BeReal / Other
Snapchat avatars got a Bitmoji refreshPatreon has a fresh new look and new features for creators… Reddit is making it easier to search for memes BeReal launched its first global marketing campaign (too little, too late?)…

And finally… BeReal fired back at a claim it BeDying 📉😬

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

Earlier this week, Elon Musk said posts with links in perform badly on X. Well they’re going to perform even worse now.

You might have noticed (on iOS and the web only right now), link previews have a minimalist new look, appearing like an image with a small text label showing which domain it links to.

As you can see above, it’s a lot less information. And it was quickly abused to prove the point that without automated text about the link being pulled through, you can pretend the link says anything. And without it being so clear that the image is a link without checking, fewer users will bother to click.

Elon Musk’s explanation a few weeks ago when he floated this idea was that it looks better, but this is far more likely about driving people to post natively to X rather than just link out, thus increasing the value of content on the platform and getting people to stick around longer.

That’s a big gamble. The vibe I’m getting from journalists and news junkies is that they’ll just spend less time on X as it gets harder to find trusted news.

And Musk’s reply to Box CEO Aaron Levie complaining about the problem is very telling:

“Really Aaron, really? You actually believe the media … wow. Show me a screenshot of before and after and tell me which one is better. Actually.”

…this move is also about putting professional media companies on a level with regular users, where they all have to post natively and compete for attention. The question is how many media pros have the time, energy and passion to care about posting to X much anymore?

For all the upbeat new stats X shares, some journalists are walking away, reducing the value of the platform as a news source.

Elon really doesn’t understand the platform he bought and why it’s been so valuable to so many people for so long.

This week brought news that Meta is considering offering a €13 a month on mobile (€17 on desktop) charge to use Facebook or Instagram ad free in the EU. Both apps would cost €19 per month.

Meanwhile, TikTok is testing its own ad-free subscription plan.

So what’s going on? Have they both looked at Elon Musk and decided charging users is the best way forward. No. Unlike X, they aren’t desperate for cash and know that targeted advertising is a much better money-spinner if you can do it well.

In Meta’s case (and likely TikTok too), EU pressure to offer an opt-out from being targeted with ads is what’s behind this move. As the Guardian explains, a July court ruling was the prompt:

The European court of justice, the highest in the EU… stated that under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Facebook cannot justify using personal details to target people with personalised ads – its core means of earning money from operating the platform – unless it receives their consent first.

Meta was burned badly by Apple’s tracking changes and it doesn’t want a repeat performance here.

If users are given the choice between paying for no ads and just continuing as they are with targeted ads, most users are likely to accept the ads.

Meta is reportedly in talks with the EU to make sure it’s compliant with the court ruling.

Assuming it is, look out for this subscription launching in the coming weeks, as Meta has until the end of November to comply with the ruling.

The question is: what happens if politicians in other countries demand Meta offers the same option outside the EU…?

😆 LOL tweets

Elon’s latest hairbrained scheme might be a pain for news outlets, but at least it brought some laughs with it, as users abused the lack of text on link previews.

📈 Must-see meme

💬 You can quote me on that

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

I gave my thoughts to the Washington Post about why Meta is suddenly thinking about offering users a paid, ad-free option.

😮 What did you say?!

Amid reports Threads is thinking of leaning into news a bit more, Instagram and Threads boss Adam Mosseri explained a bit more about why he’s being so careful…

🐾 Tracking…

As the next US election approaches, it’s worth keeping an eye on how the main campaigns will use social media.

The Biden campaign has big plans for its social media war room.

The president’s team is launching an online rapid response network for X and Threads, initially. With the handle BidenHQ, it will serve as a rapid response operation aimed at reaching voters by pumping out lots of content…


‘Let’s offer A.I.-generated stickers’ sounds like a good idea unless you forget about brand safety…

I think it’s easy to guess that Nintendo won’t be rating the stickers below as ‘good’


  • People exploited a YouTube bug to upload “Undeletable” p**n videos

😮 WTF?!

Well this is f**king weird… but strangely predictable:


📺 Must-watch

Have you heard about ‘influencer farms’ in countries like China and Indonesia? This is an eye-opening video… and a bit too much like Black Mirror creeping into real-life.

😎 Faking it

Deepfake scams are an increasing concern for big-name creators and audiences alike.

This week MrBeast warned of a pretty realistic scam using his likeness.

🛠️ New tools (WTF edition)

This free tool comes with a heavy disclaimer about only being for ‘educational purposes’ but it’s clear how it could be quickly abused. There’s a reason big tech companies held back from offering this tech years ago.

👀 Must-reads

Social media as we know it is falling apart, which is a pain for social media managers, but maybe there are upsides, too.


🤷 Most pointless story of the week

Breaking: a Gordon Ramsay TV show YouTube account isn’t run by Gordon Ramsay himself! Who’d have thought it.

🤖 Social A.I.

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

💡 New feature spotlight

Instagram is testing multiple audience lists for Stories.

The experimental feature gives you more control over who sees the Stories you share. You can add up to 250 people to a list.

📊 Social stats

📈 Charted

More Meta News

  • Meta’s news chief Campbell Brown is leaving the company. [Axios]

  • Apple blamed Instagram for overheating iPhones. [Apple Insider]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • Meta has published a report looking at evolving consumption shifts, and what marketers need to consider. [Social Media Today]

  • Meta's platforms aren't worth the investment in 2023, according to a survey of 200 agency professionals. [Digiday $$$]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook has added a “Share to WhatsApp” button for some post types. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook is testing a ‘Meta Verified’ filter for comments. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook is now showing a ‘Sends’ count on posts. [@_Youssef]

  • Facebook has added a ‘Stories’ subsection in its ‘Feeds’ view. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook has been spotted offering a ‘FB Pro Tools Bookmark’, helping users choose the best way to grow their presence on the platform. [@ahmedghanem]


  • Instagram insights are now available on desktop. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Instagram is testing the ability to share Stories to multiople audience lists. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram has been spotted showing hashtag trends between profile posts for logged-out users. [@jaskaransainiz]

  • Instagram Channels stickers can now be added to Reels. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Instagram’s broadcast channel feature has added a paid partnership option. [@jonah_manzano]


  • Threads now shows how long ago someone reposted a post. [@ahmedghanem]


  • Messenger now alerts users that their browser will collect their data when they click on a link. [@ahmedghanem]


  • WhatsApp’s green verification badge is going blue. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp has simplified its Updates section with a search feature. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is rolling out a pinned messages feature and a redesigned chat attachment menu. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is testing the ability to share links to individual messages in Channels. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is working on new text formatting tools for messaging. [WABetaInfo]

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

  • Horizon Worlds is rolling out text chat to all users. [The Verge]

More X News

  • Amnesty International has spoke out agains X’s new privacy policy, which allows it to collect users’ biometric data and access encrypted messages. [Amnesty International]

  • X plans to relax ad rules for cannabis companies. [AdWeek $$$]

  • Former Twitter executives have won $1.1 million in legal fees from X. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • The SEC has sued Elon Musk to compel him to testify in its investigation into his stock purchases as he moved to acquire Twitter. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • X has been sued for trademark violation by an ad agency called X Social Media. [Rolling Stone]

  • Elon Musk has been sued for spreading a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory. [The Daily Beast]

  • Elon Musk’s ownership of X seems eerily similar to predictions in a right-wing blog post last year, which was texted to Musk. [NBC News]

  • Universal Pictures has gained the international rights to Alex Gibney’s “unvarnished” Elon Musk movie. [Deadline]

New features and tests:

More TikTok News

  • The Indonesian law that saw TikTok dropping Shop in the country could hurt the businesses it’s meant to protect. [Rest of World]

  • TikTok Shop seems slow to generate extra sales for brands in the US. [ModernRetail]

  • TikTok Shop creators are monetizing dangerous wellness advice. [Vox]

  • US Senators have asked TikTok for information about Chinese ByteDance execs who came to work in the US. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • TikTok parent ByteDance has turned an operating profit but revenue has slowed. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • The Vietnamese government says TikTok is failing to effectively block content that violates local laws. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • TikTok should be banned in Europe, Scott Galloway has argued. [TNW]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • How to use TikTok as a journalist. [NiemanLab]

💥 More social media news and updates

  • The UK government is keeping files on education critics’ social media activity. [The Guardian]

  • YouTube now lets creators with just 500 subscribers join its Partner Programme. [Social Media Today]

  • Snapchat’s AR is still a work in progress in the eyes of marketers. [Digiday $$$]

  • Top Twitch streamers have called for a fix to a hack that lets users rack up fake views and defraud advertisers. [Fortune $$$]

  • Patreon has a new brand identity as it looks to do more to help creators run their businesses and connect with fans. [The Verge]

  • The Biden campaign has big plans for its social media war room, including an online rapid response network for X and Threads. [Politico]

  • Kia and Hyundai are happy blame TikTok and Instagram for their cars getting stolen. [Vice]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • Reddit has expanded its learning hub with new features, courses and certifications. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • YouTube has rolled out video view campaigns globally. [Search Engine Land]

  • YouTube now lets creators stream exclusively to their members. [@jonah_manzano]

  • YouTube is testing replacing the Library with a ‘You’ tab. [9to5Google]

  • LinkedIn has been spotted splitting the 'My Network' tab into two categories: Grow and Catch Up. [@LindseyGamble_]

  • LinkedIn has expanded the functionality of the Custom Button. [@LindseyGamble_]

  • LinkedIn has improved the visibility of its profile CTA buttons. [Social Media Today]

  • Snapchat’s Bitmoji avatars have a new look. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Reddit is adding a media tab to search results, among other improvements. [The Verge]

  • Reddit has rolled out expanded topic and audience matching options in Ads Manager. [Social Media Today]

  • Twitter alternative Pebble has added a thread composer. [@oncescuradu]

📖 Weekend reading

😳 And finally...

Yeah… That’s super-fking creepy, Mark…

📅 Back next week...

Right you lovely lot. Your homework is done. ✅

You can slide into work next week feeling fully briefed on EVERYTHING new in social. 🙌🏻

Alrighty… Time to go fix my eyes… They’re still broken. 🤪

Goodbye geeks!

– Matt


This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant

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