Geekout Newsletter #6 - In social media we anti-trust 🤠

Hello, Geeks!

Well...What a week of news it's been, with antitrust hearings for Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, on top of them all releasing their latest financial results. That's in addition to a ton of other social media news, updates, new features, new tools, and more.

The antitrust hearings this week may or may not lead to meaningful changes for big tech companies. Regardless, it gave geeks like me hours of entertainment, insights, shocks, and surprises.

In a quick bit of unrelated news, my new website is nearly ready to go live. I've never felt the need to have one until now, but as Geekout grows in popularity, I felt it was time. You can check out the holding page at Full site coming very soon.

Right... Lets jump into this week's updates...

Strap yourself in, we have a lot of cool stuff to dig into! 🤓

— Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

Wednesday's showdown between US Congress and the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon was a spectacle alright. The link above has a summary of the key moments, but the bit I thought was particularly interesting was the publication of internal emails from 2012, when Facebook started discussing buying Instagram.

At one point in the emails, Mark Zuckerberg says...

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again. Within that time, if we incorporate the social mechanics they were using, those new products won’t get much traction since we’ll already have their mechanics deployed at scale.”

While it's fun and nerdy to be able to look into the inner workings of Facebook through emails like these, Congress was far more interested in how it proves Facebook did look at acquisitions as a way of killing competition and staying relevant.

Given this was a session focused on antitrust issues, emails like that are a potential red flag pointing straight towards tighter regulation of Facebook's activities. Buying competitors isn't necessarily against antitrust rules, but the emails aren't a good look when politicians already think Facebook has too much power.

And given we've had headlines like 'Trump is moving forward with his plan to regulate social media,' Facebook boycotters lobby lawmakers on antitrust, and 'Twitter and Facebook become targets in Trump and Biden ads' this week, it's not a calm and worry-free time to be a social media CEO.

What's more, while Wednesday's hearing was quite scattergun, covering everything from competition law to alleged bias against conservatives, it's clear that lawmakers from both sides of US politics believe it's time to rein in the behaviour of big tech companies.

But Zuck and his fellow CEOs can probably relax just a little. It's unlikely anything much will get done ahead of the presidential election in November, so it could be a year or more before we see any solid action to strip them of any of their current powers.

We heard more about the plan to turn TikTok into an American company this week, with the investors proposing the deal valuing it at a massive $50bn.

But even if ByteDance decides to sell, the Trump administration might work faster than a deal can be done. It emerged this week that TikTok is under a national security review, and the US Treasury will recommend action to Donald Trump this week.

But meanwhile, TikTok's all-American CEO pulled out all the stops to issue a blistering attack on Facebook ahead of Wednesday's big tech hearing in Congress. He accused Facebook of "maligning attacks... disguised as patriotism.” He also said TikTok would open up further about how its algorithm works, in a bid to be more transparent. Whatever Trump decides to do, this company isn't going down without a fight.

It seems Twitter has had lax internal security around user accounts for a loooong time before this month's big hack. And if I was Beyoncé, I'd be particularly worried about what had been going on. Bloomberg reported this week:

"The controls were so porous that at one point in 2017 and 2018 some contractors made a kind of game out of creating bogus help-desk inquiries that allowed them to peek into celebrity accounts, including Beyonce’s, to track the stars’ personal data including their approximate locations gleaned from their devices’ IP addresses, two of the former employees said."

As for this month's hack itself, Twitter has said some employees fell for a 'phone spear phishing attack,' Essentially, it seems the hackers called them up and tricked them into sharing the login details over the phone 🤦‍♂️

The marketing experts at Khoros wrote these guides to help enterprise marketers understand how to stand out in an environment of sameness, drive consumer engagement, and increase leads, conversions, and sales. These are full-funnel resources, and marketers can benefit from the essential strategies at any stage of the process.

👀 ICYMI...

Stories you need to know about:

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp:

  • The pandemic has helped boost Facebook usage, adding 100m monthly active users and increasing revenue. [Social Media Today]

  • Instagram has reportedly offered TikTok creators money to switch to Reels, which is set to launch in the US soon. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • Facebook is worried iOS 14 could hurt its ads business [9to5Mac]

  • Facebook is reportedly getting the rights to show music videos. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Facebook Gaming has seen 200% year-on-year growth a new third-party report claims. [AdWeek $$$]

  • Facebook is suing the EU for allegedly invading its employees' privacy as part of ongoing antitrust investigations. [Reuters]


  • Twitter is considering charging for features like a 30-second 'undo send' window and job recruitment, according to a survey it's shown some users. [@MattNavarra]

  • Twitter stopped Donald Trump Jr from tweeting for 12 hours after he shared Covid-19 misinformation. [The Independent]

  • Twitter has banned links promoting hate and violence. This closes a loophole where users would link to a message rather than directly tweet it. [Engadget]

  • Twitter has mixed feelings about Vicariously, an app that lets you view Twitter like you're another user. Although they "love" it, they say it breaks rules on automation. [TechCrunch]

  • Twitter faced a boycott by some UK users after it failed to permanently ban musician Wiley for a long anti-semitic tirade. The company has now banned him for good. [HuffPost UK]


  • TikTok plans to pay out a whopping $2bn to users via its Creator Fund over the next three years. This includes up to $300m in Europe. [CNBC]

  • Hashtags like #FYP and #ForYouPage are pointless, TikTok has confirmed. [TikTok Newsroom]

  • TikTok has begun paying publishers for branded content campaigns to raise awareness of content on its app. [Digiday]

  • TikTok has QAnon-related hashtags, but unlike Twitter, it's not removing any content relating to the conspiracy theory movement. [Engadget]

  • TikTok has signed a deal with a major US music publishing body. It seems the deal includes payment for previous use of unlicensed music in the app. [Music Business World]

  • The Biden campaign is the latest organisation to ban TikTok from staff's phones. [The Verge]

And the rest:

  • Pinterest moderators have a tough job, and some say better collaboration between tech and content teams is key to improving the situation. [OneZero]

  • WeChat has pulled out of India following the ban on Chinese apps there. [The Drum]

  • LinkedIn has published a guide to setting your business up for recovery after Covid-19. [Social Media Today]

  • The UK Government Communication Service has published a guide to creating social media campaigns... and it's actually very good. [Government Communication Service]

🌟Tip of the week

Did you know you can add a "Send us a message" button to your tweets?

Here's how you do it!

PS: The full URL you need to use in your tweet is:{your account’s numeric user ID}

🔨 Tool of the week

Descript is a powerful tool for podcasters, and it's just rolled out new pro features like overdub text to speech voice cloning; advanced filler word detection and removal, and custom audiograms.

'Text to speech voice cloning' deepfakes your voice to save you from having to re-record mistakes. 😮

📲 Quick hits

Updates, experiments, and useful info snippets:

  • Facebook is launching an experimental app called It lets users collaborate creatively on a shared canvas. [Social Media Today]

  • Facebook has developed A.I. that teaches itself to play poker. [VentureBeat]

  • Facebook has new accessibility features including scalable font sizes, screen reader changes. [CNet]

  • Instagram said it would fix a bug that showed iOS 14 beta users that the camera was in use even when they weren't taking pictures. [The Verge]

  • Instagram is working on an interesting new way of navigating between different people's Stories. [@alex193a]

  • Permanently muting WhatsApp group chats? It may soon happen. [Android Authority]

  • Twitter added a custom 'like' animation for NASA's #CountdownToMars. [@Twitter]

  • What is Twitter Birdwatch? No idea, but Twitter is working on an option to contribute to it. [@alex193a]

  • More images have leaked of a new Oculus Quest VR headset. [The Verge]

  • YouTube is axing 'community captions' as they weren't used much. [Liam O'Dell]

  • YouTube has begun a limited test of live streaming for games on Stadia and the fancy 'crowd play' feature [9to5Google]

  • Google Maps now lets you follow users. It's turning into a solid social app. [Android Police]

  • Snapchat has a new Story sticker that lets you create a collaborative Story with friends. [@KenSchillinger]

  • LinkedIn has updated its job applicant matching systems to improve its recruitment offering. [Social Media Today]

  • Microsoft has launched an Xbox-themed AR campaign on Snapchat, with game-themed lenses. [Social Media Today]

  • Telegram has added profile videos, file sharing up to 2GB, group stats, improved 'People Nearby' and more. [Telegram blog]

  • Spotify has debuted its 'share a quote' feature for podcasts. It's available for the Michelle Obama Show. [Engadget]

📖 Weekend reading

"Young people are getting information about protests, police actions and stay-at-home orders from their social media feeds – but the trend isn’t harmless"

😳 And finally....

who made this 😆

📅 Back next week...

...And we're DONE! ✅

I did warn you it was a busy week for social news. :)

Head on over to The Social Media Geekout group on Facebook where 17,000+ geeks like us are sharing more tips, tricks, tools, and new features.

Oh... And if your company is interested in sponsoring SEASON 3 of my Geekout with Matt Navarra podcast, drop me a reply to this email and let's chat!

Have a great weekend, people!

Goodbye, geeks!

— Matt


This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant.

Copyright 2020: Matt Navarra Media Ltd

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