Geekout Newsletter #4 - WTF happened, Twitter? 😱

Hello geeks!

Well... What started as a fairly quiet week in the world of social media news and updates, turned into a jaw-dropping one following THAT Twitter hack. More on that in a bit.

In other news, Facebook is (predictably) readying its TikTok-clone 'Reels' for a US release in a few weeks time. Given TikTok is banned in India and the US government is turning up the heat on a possible ban, Facebook clearly smells blood and an opportunity to muscle its way into this space.

Let's dive into those news updates and a raft of new features, tools, and more... But before we do, here's a few links to the other places you can find me on the social web:

And don't forget to JOIN my Geekout group on Facebook where you'll find more social media geekiness being discussed amongst 17,000+ fellow social media pros like you.

Thanks for all your support for this little newsletter, and please do tweet about it or forward it like it's hot! 🙂 🔥

— Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

Twitter is in one hot mess this week after it suffered its worst ever security breach and account hacking incident. Sh1tloads of major brands (Apple, Uber) and highly-followed public figures (Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Obama, Joe Biden...) all had their accounts compromised. The compromised accounts then pumped out a Bitcoin scam tweet which netted the hacker(s) around $117,000.

TechCrunch reported that an internal Twitter admin tool was accessed by the hacker(s) and used to gain control of accounts to tweet out the scam. According to Vice's sources, they also changed the ownership of some accounts with highly-prized one- and two-letter handles. One source claimed a Twitter employee was paid to assist in the operation.

Twitter has since said no passwords were accessed, but it's yet to confirm whether or not any DMs were accessed from the 130 accounts targeted. Jack Dorsey has said the company will be transparent about its investigation and findings, but it may be limited in what it can say thanks to an FBI investigation into the incident. Security consultant Brian Krebs has analysed how he thinks the hack happened, but it's too soon to say if the person he suggests did it is really responsible.

This hack comes at the worst possible time for Twitter, what with the upcoming US elections where governments, regulators, and users are already lacking confidence and trust in social media platforms to maintain election integrity. Twitter (and rival platforms) hardly have a stellar record when it comes to data privacy and election interference. This latest incident adds fuel to the fire already raging around social media platforms failing to protect their users and the risks to society when things go wrong. And when you have hundreds of millions of users, the impact of even small incidents can be huge.

After what must have felt like an eternity for @jack and his team(s), Twitter finally got on top of the incident some four or so hours later. And only after taking the drastic step of temporarily blocking all verified accounts from tweeting. That alone signals just how serious the incident was. And it pissed off blue tick users no end.

I imagine that Facebook and TikTok will be thankful for Twitter taking the critical media spotlight off them for at least 24 hours. But although Twitter will get most of the heat for the hack, the incident only serves to remind those seeking to rein in these platforms that social networks are a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.

Donald Trump may not have banned TikTok across the US (he's still exploring options according to the Financial Times [$$$]) but that hasn't stopped US banking company Wells Fargo from barring its employees from using the app on work devices.

The quote from the company on the move sounds like this is about playing it safe and making sure staff aren't distracted by the content, rather a response to than any serious intelligence about a threat:

"Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices."

What could have been far more serious for TikTok would have been if a similar ban from Amazon had lasted longer than a couple of hours. On Friday, news broke of an email telling staff to remove the app from their devices due to security risks. If one corporation bans an app, that's one thing. But if it's two, and one of them is the size of Amazon, that starts to look like something other companies might want to copy just to play it safe.

Luckily for TikTok, Amazon quickly said that the email had been sent in error. Quite why it wrote the email in the first place, and put it in an email app to send to the whole company, is another question, but I imagine TikTok — and its lobbyists in Washington DC trying to cosy up politicians — will have breathed a sigh of relief.

In this comprehensive Social Media Pocket Guide, we’ve looked at research-backed social media strategies and current best practices, with examples from major brands, to help drive audience engagement while delivering your business results.

👀 ICYMI...

Stories you need to know about:

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:

  • Instagram is preparing to launch Reels around the world as it sees an opportunity to pounce on a weakened TikTok. It will launch in the US next month. [TechCrunch]

  • A problem with Facebook login code led to many popular iOS apps not working for a few hours last Friday. [The Verge]

  • Hackers could delete any image uploaded to Facebook by exploiting a bug in gift card purchase posts. [Bugreader]

  • Facebook's Oculus is boosting production of its VR headsets to meet growing demand as we spend more time indoors. [The Street]

  • Hollywood is staying away from the Facebook boycott... because it needs Facebook too much. [New York Times $$$]

  • Facebook will label all posts about voting from US politicians, linking to official information, whether or not the posts contain misinformation. [Axios]

  • Mark Zuckerberg has criticised Trump's response to Covid-19, in a rare example of him publicly speaking out clearly against the president. [Mashable]

  • Matching animals to your name is the new Instagram account trend. [Business Insider]


  • Twitter has revealed a revamped API. Available next week, it will let third-party apps add modern features like conversation threads, poll results in tweets, pinned tweets, and more. [TechCrunch]

  • Google has pulled Twitter from the top of search results following this week's hack. [9to5Google]


And the rest:

  • Pinterest has updated its algorithm to provide a better mix of content in users' feeds. [Social Media Today]

  • Pinterest has launched a guide to effective pin marketing in 2020. [Social Media Today]

  • Snapchat has launched a 13-week remote programme to help developers build deeper SnapKit integrations. [TechCrunch]

  • Google prioritises its own YouTube over rivals' videos in search results, research shows. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • Amazon has launched tech to help developers roll their own streaming service based on the same technology as Twitch. [TubeFilter]

  • The EU-US data-sharing agreement has been struck down in court, which could have a big impact on how companies like Facebook handle European data. [TechCrunch]

🌟Tip of the week

An old tweet, but a good tip:

🔨 Tool of the week

Worried TikTok might get banned in your country, or you just want a backup of all your videos? This tool is here to help.

📲 Quick hits

Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:

  • Facebook will host officially licensed music videos for artists, in the US from next month. [TechCrunch]

  • Facebook is testing a new sharing interface on iOS that includes a 'Share to Twitter' button 🙃 [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook is testing a new tab layout and design in its Pages app. [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook Messenger is rolling out mobile screen sharing on iOS and Android. [Messenger News]

  • Facebook and Instagram are rolling out a reminder to wear a mask internationally (it was US-only until now). It's also launching new content to debunk myths about Covid-19.

  • Facebook is going full TikTok with hashtag challenge buttons on posts. [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook is also prompting users to improve their posts' reach with hashtags. [Mari Smith]

  • Facebook is rolling out layout options for posting multiple pictures [Social Media Today]

  • Facebook is testing a handy icon highlighting previously unread posts in Groups. [@TexanMeg]

  • Facebook is testing a reaction-like icon for sharing to Stories. [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook is flagging up to users when a comment that was originally marked as spam. [@MattNavarra]

  • Facebook is testing a 'Related' icon on posts, but it's not clear what it will do. [@MattNavarra]

  • Instagram's redesigned shopping hub has gone live in the US, with more countries to follow. [Engadget]

  • Instagram is working on possible layout changes including a tab in the main app to see Reels shared by others. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is working on the countdown sound for the camera in the Reels app. [@alex193a]

  • Twitter is rolling out a pop-up DM inbox on the web. [@Twitter]

  • Twitter is working on custom 'like' animations for tweets that include branded hashflags. [@wongmjane]

  • Twitter will prompt users in India with how to get high-quality information during disasters. [TechRadar]

  • TikTok has a new newsletter for creators featuring tips and inspiration. [TikTok for Creators]

  • TikTok has launched a series of media literacy videos to educate its users. [AdWeek]

  • Google's new app looks like TikTok with shopping. Shoploop is available in your mobile browser. [Google blog]

  • Snapchat will let brands have their own profiles. It should have rolled out to all businesses by the end of the year. [AdWeek]

  • Snapchat is testing TikTok-like vertical swipes for exploring content. [TechCrunch]

  • YouTube wants creators to know what videos by others are popular with their audience. The feature is being gradually rolled out. [Social Media Today]

  • YouTube Studio for Android now has a dark mode but it doesn't follow the system-wide theme. [Android Police]

  • YouTube Music now has artist-curated playlists, just like Spotify. [Android Police]

  • LinkedIn now lets you recommend profiles to others via a new 'share a profile' post creation option. [Social Media Today]

  • LinkedIn is working on a way to create and share video meetings over messaging. [@wongmjane]

  • Reddit finally supports native image galleries. They took their time on this one. [The Verge]

  • Google has shared new emoji designs for Android 11 and a new emoji shortcut bar. [Engadget]

  • And Apple has previewed its upcoming new emoji too. [MacRumors]

📖 Weekend reading

The smartest analysis I've read about TikTok's China problem

🐣 Tweet of the week

Verified users, blocked from tweeting during the Twitter hack, be like:

😳 And finally....

Social media manager confession spotted on @sippingsocialtea this week...

When your colleagues try to sound like they know what you do...

Credit: @sippingsocialtea on Instagram

And that just about wraps it up for this week!

Just enough space for some podcast news: My 'Geekout with Matt Navarra' podcast is coming back for more...!

Check out Seasons 1 and 2 and let me know who you'd like me to invite on as a big-name special guest for season 3. Drop me a Twitter DM with your suggestions

For now... Have an awesome weekend!

Goodbye, geeks!

— Matt

This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.

Copyright 2020: Matt Navarra Media Ltd

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