TikTok ships Shop in the US

…and the Elon book divides critics

Hello, geeks…

Welcome back. I hope the social media gods have been kind to you this week 😁

Kicking things off this week… The 100% free Canva clone (Bookmark!) 👇

It’s been a busy week on the news front…

Elon’s hotly anticipated biography is out (because we don’t hear enough about Elmo already 🙄)… Twitter got caught running unlabeled ads (naughty)… a U.S judge says the FBI and the White House likely DID coerce social platforms to remove content (people surprised: 0)… And TikTok opened the doors to TikTok Shops in the U.S… All that and more in a moment.

PRIZE WINNERS: Extremely Online Signed Tote Bag

Taylor Lorenz kindly named FIVE Tote Bag winners (was originally 3 prizes). Congrats to the winners who Taylor will be reaching out to personally shortly.

  • Claire Hubble

  • Madeline Burchard

  • Emily Lawrenson

  • Alan Moir

  • Roy W. Richardson

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🔥 Geekout Hot 5

  1. Walter Isaacson’s Hotly Anticipated Elon Musk Biography Published [THE REAL ELON?]

  2. Twitter Caught Running Unlabelled Ads In Users’ Following Feed [STEALTH ADS]

  3. White House Likely Coerced Social Platforms To Remove Posts [SOCIAL PRESSURE]

  4. TikTok Shop Officially Launches In The U.S. [TIKTOK TAT]

  5. WhatsApp Exploring In-App Ads But Meta Denies Rumor [WHATS-AD]

New & Noteworthy

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

Meta / Threads

Meta faced heat for blocking Threads searches for Covid info… Threads added the ability to follow specific conversation for 24 hours and you can now quote posts via the Threads on the web

WhatsApp / Instagram

WhatsApp rolled out its Channels one-to-many feature to 150 countries… WhatsApp is working on the ability to chat with users of other messaging apps (but only because the EU is forcing it)… WhatsApp is working on a Facetime-like Memoji feature for video calls.

Instagram is testing letting you hide your like activity or choose who can see it… Instagram Notes could be about to become much more interesting… Instagram added a Share to Threads option for posts and Reels… Instagram added a ‘Following’ filter for your Reals feed… And Instagram working on a new feature called ‘Hall Pass’?!

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Twitter (‘X’)

Bots on X are worse than ever, researchers claimed… X appears to (still) be throttling reach of posts containing NYT links… X updated its terms of service to ban AI companies (and others) from swiping its data… And X reportedly can’t delete all user data, according to a leaked document.

X made it harder to find quote-tweets (QTs are one of X’s most toxic features, so this is no bad thing)… Industry experts say X is unlikely to win back ad spend back in time for the holiday season… And X’s ID verification feature is now showing up on the web.


TikTok is spending $1.3 billion to help it avoid being banned in Europe… TikTok has been slipping Wikipedia into search results… TikTok and Billboard have teamed up for a weekly Top 50 chart of songs on the app…

The food industry is paying ‘influencer’ dietitians on TikTok to shape your eating habits…TikTok is paying agencies to coach creators on how to success on TikTok Live… CapCut launched an affiliate program to get YouTube and Instagram creators using its tools (smart move).

YouTube / Snapchat / LinkedIn

YouTube is testing a TikTok-style vertical live video format… YouTube is testing a Subscribe button that glows when creators use the word ‘subscribe’ in their videos… Snapchat opened ‘Snap Star Verification’ to the public… Snapchat added Zoom-style screen-sharing for calls on the web… LinkedIn now has a branded content ad library

And finally…. Check out the 118 new emojis coming soon to your devices. 😍

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

TikTok’s shopping ambitions have been ramping up for months, and now, with the official rollout of TikTok Shop across the US, ByteDance is getting really serious.

As the New York Times explained:

After nearly a year of testing, speculation and some internal upheaval, TikTok this week is rolling out TikTok Shop for all users in the United States.

The company will expand the rollout of a Shop button on the app’s home screen, which sends people to a marketplace, and drive traffic to videos that contain Shop buttons for specific products. Both enable users to buy products in a few clicks without leaving the app.

– Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times

While the Amazon-style marketplace feature has been derided by some for featuring some “bizarre” items and “cheap Chinese goods”, TikTok’s overall retail ambitions include influencer affiliate deals, live shopping, and more. Look out for significant activity around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too.

It might seem silly to claim that TikTok has any chance of challenging Amazon, but to an emerging generation of shoppers, TikTok is already where they are. The opportunity here is real. TikTok has even set up its own fulfilment network and an app and services store, to make life easy for sellers.

Of course, Amazon is aware of the challenge, and has been busy launching its own TikTok-style discovery feed in the US, and paying influencers to take part (even if it doesn’t pay well).

As a destination for young shoppers though, TikTok has a chance to take a chunk out of Amazon, even if the retail giant isn’t going to be toppled any time soon.

Walter Isaacson’s much-anticipated biography of Elon Musk has dropped into the hands of reviewers.

The critics are divided about whether this is a must-read or just a fawning tome that tells exactly the story Musk would like to be told. But either way, the book reveals a LOT about the billionaire’s reign at Twitter/X.

A few notable stories and insights, some of which come via Casey Newton’s roundup and others from the Wall Street Journal:

  • Musk was well aware how disastrous the Twitter Blue ‘everyone gets a Verified badge’ launch would be, but he did it anyway.

  • Twitter wanted to sell itself to Musk for a discount after he started to get cold feet, but the change would have been tricky for Musk’s deals with lenders. And the Twitter’s top execs wanted immunity from ever being sued by Musk, something he refused to grant.

  • Musk’s crew found Twitter staff to fire by searching Slack for keywords like “Elon”.

  • Jack Dorsey nearly dropped his support for the takeover, worried that Musk’s impulsiveness could kill the platform Dorsey spent years building. But Musk promised that he would buy Dorsey out at the sale price if he ever wanted to sell in the future. Given X’s current valuation, that would be pricey for Musk.

  • Linda Yaccarino’s pitch for the CEO job was that “their relationship could work like a relay race, with Musk building the product and her selling it.”

  • Hollywood agent Ari Emmanuel offered to run Twitter for $100 million. Musk–who obviously wanted to run the company himself–quickly knocked him back

I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, but even if it is largely Elon’s own story about himself filtered through Isaacson, it still provides plenty of valuable insights into the chaos and confusion of social media’s wildest-ever business story.

🧠 Smart links

Useful resources and guides I spotted this week:

  • 💼 LINKEDIN: 20+ LinkedIn Profile Tips + Guaranteed Ways to Stand Out 🔗 [PRO-TIPS]

  • 🔎 SEARCH: How to Optimise Your Products + Services for Social Search 🔗 [VIEW GUIDE]

😆 LOL tweets


🪧 Brand social

NYC isn’t the cleanest of cities, and the Sanitation department has had enough, so it’s naming and shaming brands. Others in its sights include Dunkin’ Donuts and Giorgio Armani.


💬 You can quote me on that

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

I spoke to Contagious about how social media is become less ‘social’ and more ’media’:


Ouch. The Daily Beats has busted Barstool Sports using burner Twitter accounts to post pirated sports footage… which the publisher’s official accounts could then quote-tweet as a growth strategy.

😮 WTF?!

Fake it ‘til you make it… into prison:


👀 Good reads

“Although it might seem wild to watch a show or movie in three-minute increments, viral pirated videos and clips have helped build a Gen Z audience for new shows like Amazon Freevee’s Jury Duty.”

🤔 Strong opinion

This is certainly an attention-grabbing comparison…

😎 Faking it

Sadly, this isn’t a real image, as iconic as it would be.

📲 New app

New ‘Instagram will clone this if it becomes popular’ app just dropped.

Funnily enough, you might remember Facebook launched a short-lived app called Slingshot back in 2014.

🤖 Social A.I.

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

Meta is reportedly working on a new AI model to rival GPT-4

💡 New feature spotlight

150 countries around the world can now use WhatsApp’s broadcast Channels feature.

📊 Social stats

Think about how many creators put in far more work and generate so much less money than this…

📈 Charted

More Meta News

  • Canadians are using more news apps since Meta stopped offering news in its apps in the country. [Insider $$$]

  • Meta's VR technology is helping to train surgeons and treat patients. [CNBC]

  • Meta has donated VR headsets to 15 US colleges. [Axios]

  • Meta has announced a “Conversations” business messaging event. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook is now showing a reminder that the News tab will be removed in the UK, France, and Germany from early December 2023. [@MattNavarra]


  • Instagram will soon start hiding offensive message requests and comments. You can switch the filter off if you prefer. [@MattNavarra]

  • Instagram has added an option to prevent others from using your reel as a template. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Instagram now wishes you Happy Birthday. [@jonah_manzano]

  • Instagram now offers a ‘share to Threads’ option. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram has added ‘Following’ Filter in the Reels tab. [@MattNavarra]

  • Instagram is working on a mysterious feature called ‘Hall Pass’. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is working on the ability to delete a message without needing to unsend it. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram could soon let you choose your own image as a Channel theme background. [@alex193a]


  • Threads has added the ability to make quote-posts on the web. [The Verge]

  • Threads now lets users to keep an eye on a conversation by enabling a 24-hour notification period per thread. [@oncescuradu]

  • Threads now has a themed icon for Android, the first of Meta’s apps to do so. [9to5Google]


  • New WhatsApp Communities are able to beta test a new ‘General’ chat group. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp Channels message reactions are rolling out to more beta testers. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is working on a feature to filter group chats. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is testing a video avatar calling feature. [WABetaInfo]

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

  • Meta Quest has added new avatar customisation options, an unsend message feature, and more. [TechCrunch]

  • Meta has announced new ad tools, including variable budgets and in-stream discount prompts. [Social Media Today]

More X News

  • Many big advertisers plan to stay away from X during the lucrative holiday season. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • X is finally entering settlement talks about the mass layoffs after Elon Musk took over Twitter. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Linda Yaccarino has started bringing in her own executive team. [The Verge]

  • X downloads have fallen almost 30% since July. [Insider $$$]

  • X has sued California over controversial new social media transparency laws. [The Guardian]

  • The Center for Countering Digital Hate says X failed to take action on over 200 posts with hateful content. [The Verge]

  • X is ‘unfit’ for banking because of its ties to Saudi Arabia, the family of an alleged victim of human rights abuses in the country has said. [The Guardian]

  • Elon Musk may have violated the FTC's Twitter privacy order at X, the US Department of Justice says. [Axios]

  • Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has blamed a SIM swap attack after his X account was hacked. [Gizmodo]

New features and tests:

  • X is testing the ability to write a longer bio with text formatting. [Social Media Today]

  • X Premium subscribers can now hide the posts they’ve liked. [The Verge]

  • X could soon auto-save your posts as you write them. [@nima_owji]

  • X is working on a "Verified Followers" tab. [@nima_owji]

  • X has added a way to encourage Community Notes contrbutors to rate more notes. [@CommunityNotes]

More TikTok News

  • TikTok accidentally blocked Hollywood writers strike videos. [The Verge]

  • TikTok is paying agencies to coach creators on how to succeed on TikTok Live. [Insider $$$]

  • TikTok vaping ads that flouted the platform's own rules banned by UK regulator. [Sky News]

  • TikTok food tourists are unpopular with locals in Amsterdam. [The Guardian]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok now displays the timestamp of videos when you use the scrubbing tool. [@MattNavarra]

  • TikTok has added the option to change the video quality of livestreams. [@jonah_manzano]

  • TikTok has rolled out Picture in Picture mode to more users on iOS. [@MattNavarra]

  • TikTok now lets you create series directly in the app without needing to go to the desktop. [@jonah_manzano]

💥 More social media news and updates

  • The FBI And White House likely coerced social media platforms into removing posts, a US appeals court has ruled. [CNBC]

  • …But the Supreme Court has paused curbs on government reaching out to social media companies. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Experts are developing a new online safety rating system for teens. [Mashable]

  • Social media companies are not ready to tackle election misinformation around the world, experts have warned. [The Guardian]

  • YouTube seems to be getting tougher on ad-blockers. [9to5Google]

  • CapCut has launched an affiliate programme for Instagram and YouTube creators. [Lindsey Gamble]

  • LinkedIn has gained MRC accreditation on several key ad metrics. [Social Media Today]

  • Several malicious Telegram clones have been found on the Google Play store. [TechRadar Pro]

  • The latest change to the UK’s Online Safety Bill would see tech giants face fines for animal cruelty videos. [BBC News]

New features and tests:

  • YouTube is testing a channel promotion feature. [@ahmedghanem]

  • LinkedIn has launched a Branded Content library. [Social Media Today]

  • …and LinkedIn has added the ability to search for posts tagged with new Brand Partnership label. [@LindseyGamble_]

  • Reddit has added a translation feature for mobile users. [TechCrunch]

  • Telegram has added a self-custodial crypto wallet worldwide, except in the US. [TechCrunch]

  • Snapchat is testing letting paying subscribers restore a lost Snapstreak. [@jonah_manzano]

  • Pinterest has launched new tools and creative options for advertisers. [Social Media Today]

  • Pinterest’s Shuffles app now lets you cut out images and build interactive collages. [TechCrunch]

  • Artifact has added a new ‘links’ feature. [The Verge]

📖 Weekend reading

😳 And finally...

Turns out your friends probably don’t like you to send them A.I.-generated ‘personal’ messages. Who would have thought…?

📅 Back next week...

…You know the drill. You’ve reached the end of this week’s Geekout.

Chalk that up as a (minor) achievement 👊 😁

Your reward? This Geekout PRO VIP discount. If i stick it here, only hardcore Geekout readers will find it 🤫

Right… I’m heading off to read Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography. Who knows, maybe his ego will grow on me by the end?

Goodbye geeks!

– Matt


This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant

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