TikTok banned: For real this time?

…ByteDance is getting worried

Hello, geeks!

We all survived the great Meta (LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord) outage of 2024. If only it had lasted a little longer! 😏

Before you dive into this week’s Geekout…

Instagram has a secret hidden emoji game. Here’s how to unlock it. 😍 

I’ve been following posts (with envy) from friends who are attending this year’s SXSW event in Austin this week.

TNW team at SXSW in 2018

A quick story… When I was head of social for The Next Web (2013-2019), I attended SXSW every year. In 2018, Twitter invited me to their private SXSW ‘#TwitterHouse’ party.

During the event, a random (and fairly drunk) guy nudged me saying “You’re Matt Navarra?… I’ve got something for you”.

Nervously, I asked what he had. He proceeded to share with me never seen before screenshots and details about an ‘Edit tweet’ button he claimed Twitter was secretly working on. (A lot of Twitter users had been begging for an edit tweet button for years at that point in time)

After quickly doing some fact-checking, while holding a cocktail with music blaring, I confirmed they were likely legit. And me being me, while inside Twitter’s private party, I posted it all in a tweet.

Less than five minutes later, my mobile started ringing. Unknown U.S. number calling. Ut-oh…

…I answered it. A voice on the other end said: “Hey Matt. I’m the head of comms for Twitter. Are you at our Twitter party now?” I sheepishly confirmed I was. “Are you tweeting screenshots of an internal edit button test?!”

In my semi-drunken state, I started to grasp the trouble I may have just caused myself.

Twitter’s head of comms then suggested I head over to bar on the other side of the party where she would meet me with her colleagues. I believe my words when I hung up the call were “Oh fuck”. 😳

I will tell you what happened next, in next week’s Geekout…

…Along with the story about the time I went to a Facebook party at SXSW and was cornered by Meta comms execs on. the dance floor, demanding I told them who was leaking new product features to me. 😬

In the meantime, here’s a bunch of photos and videos I posted from inside private parties and VIP events at SXSW over the years, including an insane WestWorld experience, and the time in sat in the Back to the Future Delorean at the Ready Player One premiere.

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Our pick of the hottest headlines in social this week:

  1. U.S Lawmakers Vote 50-1 To Force Sale Of TikTok [BANNING]

  2. Facebook, Instagram And Threads Went Down In Global Meta Outage [DOWNDETECTOR-ING]

  3. Fired Twitter Execs Sue Elon Musk For Over $128 Million [LAWYERING]

  4. Threads API Launches Test With Partners Including Hootsuite + Sprout Social [SCHEDULING]

  5. The EU’s New Digital Market Act Kicks In To Regulate Big Tech [REGULATING]


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Is a TikTok ban really going to happen this time?

Could a US TikTok ban really be imminent?

Talk of banning TikTok has drifted in and out for years now. But it’s an election year, and politicians on both sides of the House want to be seen to be ‘doing something’.

And so now we have some some new proposed legislation that has bipartisan support, that would ban app stores from offering TikTok, as well as, potentially all Chinese apps.

It’s making rapid progress towards an expected full House vote next week. This comes at a time when TikTok parent ByteDance has growing revenues but brand engagement is down on TikTok, and Instagram has overtaken TikTok on downloads.

TikTok is clearly worried about the bill. Taking a leaf out of Uber’s book, it fought back with a splash screen for US users, encouraging them to call their local representative and urge them not to ban the app they love.

Congress was not impressed by the stunt, and it could have done more harm than good. But TikTok does at least have one–highly unexpected–supporter… Donald Trump.

Yes, the former (and potentially future) US President, the man who kicked off serious talk of a TikTok ban in the first place, now seems to see the app as useful competition to Meta, who he hates more:

“If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business. I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!”

I mean, his reasoning is detached from reality, but given his sway over the Republican party, his influence might help save TikTok.

Given the momentum this bill has, we might not have long to wait to find out.



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

Meta ♾️

Instagram 🤳🏻

Threads 🪡 / WhatsApp 💬 

Twitter (‘X’) 🤡

TikTok 📱

Telegram / LinkedIn / Others ⚡️



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

I spoke to The Drum about the latest twist in the TikTok ban drama in the US:



After the big Meta outage this week….

And about that disastrous viral Willy Wonka experience…



The Great Meta Outage of March 2024 (we’ll be telling our grandkids about it) was a source of fine meme-age:



On TikTok, a weirdly entertaining #foodtok trend is taking over a lot people’s feeds.

Rising cupcakes and other baked goods like this and the one below are clocking up millions of views…


Cupcake wop wop 🤣 #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #fypシ #wopchallenge #cupcake #dance #foodie #baked_ish

[H/T Geekout Pro members Adam Flowers + Ellie Wood]




Here’s an interesting little nugget: Ryanair’s former head of social says an edgy tweet about Prince William was taken down after an official complaint.

What would you have done in that situation?




There’s a common view that Mark Zuckerberg has a better public image than ever before.

But here’s a good read about why you shouldn’t take cool, relaxed, and accessible ‘McDonalds Zuck’ at face value:



“If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business.”

– Donald Trump adds “Zuckerschmuck” to his list of nicknames for people he doesn’t like

  • Forget whatever else might be in his bloodstream, Kara Swisher says: "The drug that's hurting Elon Musk is all his enablers, who suck up to him. And needing to be adored”



Meta CTO Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth is always worth listening to. His straight-talking style is at odds to the careful corporate speak of most senior big tech leaders.

Here he talks about Facebook’s early years, and much more.



It feels like there’s no shortage of books about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, but this one should definitely be worth a read.

Character Limit, by New York Times tech reporters Kate Conger and Ryan Mac, promises the "definitive account of what really happened when Musk showed up, spoiling for a brawl and intent on revolution, with his merciless, sycophantic cadre of lawyers, investors, and bankers."


😮 WTF?!

What do you do if you can’t sell enough ads on X? Why, sell some to yourself, of course! Tesla recently started advertising on X.



“As deepfake nude scandals hit schools around the US, tools that can be used to manipulate girls’ images are being advertised across major social media platforms.” 😳



Social media algorithms don’t stand still, so it’s worth refreshing your knowledge about them regularly.

Hootsuite has created this useful guide to how things stand in March 2024:




Social media features heading for the graveyard:

Instagram is removing its events feature on 19 March.




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

Facebook is using A.I. to boost watch time on Reels:



$4 billion

Brands spent nearly $4 billion on TikTok ads in 2023


Instagram is strengthening its lead over TikTok as TikTok’s growth cools…

  • Instagram: 1.47 billion (up 13 million)

  • TikTok: 1.12 billion (down 12 million)



  • Australian news media could seek payment from Meta for content used to train A.i. [The Guardian]

  • Meta has vowed to make Quest "more resilient" after its outage this week. [Upload VR]

  • Messaging platforms wanting to be available inside WhatsApp will need to use the Signal protocol for encryption. [Meta Engineering]

  • WhatsApp’s third-party messaging support might be an EU-only feature. [Android Authority]

  • Meta’s AI can create ahistorical images, like Google Gemini. [Axios]

  • Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth says Mark Zuckerberg uses the 'eye of Sauron' to assess the company's most important tasks. [Business Insider $$$]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook now shows ‘search suggestions’ on Reels. [@oncescuradu]


  • Instagram has been spotted offering a ‘promo reel’ option. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram now lets you select multiple highlights for deletion. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Instagram is working on the ability to keep the audio when creating a cutout sticker from a video. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram could soon let you silently leave groups without notifying other members. [@alex193a]


  • Threads has been spotted showing “Help set the tone by keeping your reply respectful” messages. [@lukaspuskaric]


  • WhatsApp's classic UI on Android is getting a modern update with new icons for the overflow menu options. [Android Police]

  • Your WhatsApp calls could soon show up in Google’s Phone app call log on Android. [Android Police]

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

  • Meta’s Quest v62 update, launched last month, extended Air Link battery life by more than 50%. [Upload VR]

  • Mindfulness app Headspace has launched on Meta Quest. [TechCrunch]



  • Music publishers accusing X of widespread copyright infringement can proceed with parts of their lawsuit, but a federal judge dismissed several key aspects of it. [Axios]

  • Elon Musk says X could soon receive payment licenses in New York and California. [Reuters $$$]

  • Elon Musk is using X.ai to rejuvenate X. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

New features and tests:

  • X is working on its own translator to replace Google Translate. [@owjinima]

  • X now lets Premium subscribers hide who they subscribe to. [@theahmedghanem]



  • TikTok is launching a new #WomenOfTikTok creator programme, among other initiatives to mark International Women’s Day. [Social Media Today]

  • The National Music Publishers Association does not plan to renew its TikTok license. [Variety]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok is testing a new UI for the posting interface, but still has the 4000 characters limit. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok now offers gaming perks for subscribers. [@jonahmanzano]



  • Florida’s governor vetoed social media ban for kids under 16, lawmakers want to compromise. [NBC News]

  • Social media companies have rejected ‘shadow banning’ allegations over Palestinian content. [CNBC]

  • This week’s social media outages were unlikely to have affected Super Tuesday election results in the US, experts say. [Poynter]

  • The boss of Google’s Gemini removed his social media profiles after abuse following its recent product launch. [CNBC]

  • Reddit has objected to filmmakers' renewed attempt to obtain user IP addresses. [TorrentFreak]

  • LinkedIn has outlined a renewed focus on industry-specific content and knowledge sharing. [Social Media Today]

  • Tech industry lobbying groups are backing Snapchat in a battle over Fentanyl overdoses. [MediaPost]

  • YouTube and Comscore are expanding the integration of campaign ratings for advertisers. [MediaPost]

  • Anonymous social apps face another reckoning as a group of US universities bans Yik Yik, Fizz, Sidechat, and Whisper. [TechCrunch]

  • Twitch is focused on mobile and streamer collaboration in 2024. [The Verge]

  • Gen Z is growing disinterested in the extravagant brand trips influencers are sent on. [Business Insider]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

New features and tests:

  • YouTube has been spotted offering two new buttons for videos on desktop: Picture-in-Picture and HD. [@oncescuradu]

  • Snapchat is making birthdays a more important part of its interface. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Reddit keeps testing desktop UI changes. [Android Police]

  • Linktree has launched a social commerce partnership with Sephora and a new Stories feature. [The Information $$$]

  • Linktree now supports multiple accounts on one login. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Linktree now lets you customise your sharing preview. [@theahmedghanem]





“Why does Juan Joya Borja (aka El Risitas aka “Spanish Laughing Guy”) always put a smile on our faces?”

One of my most favourite meme templates of all time. This is a good read… 👇



… You have reached the end of this week’s Geekout. GAME OVER. 🕹️

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Right then folks… I’m heading off to attend a 20-year work reunion with former colleagues I worked with in my first career job working for a bank back in 2004!

Fuck, I feel so old. 👴🏻

Goodbye, geeks!

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

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