Does social media *really* need a health warning? ⚠️

…and TikTok goes Whee!

Hello, geeks!

Welcome to this week’s Geekout!

Kicking things off this week… Mind-blowing AI-enhanced memes! 🤯


Geekout’s Italian Job was a LOT of fun last week. 🇮🇹

I spoke at the We Make Future festival in Bologna. And had a blast…

Whilst I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city, I still managed to taste some of the best food and wine Italy has to offer. 🍕

I also met up with about a dozen Geekout readers based in Italy. Check out a few highlights from my Instagram story posts. 🙌🏻

Next week, I’m heading to Glastonbury Festival. ⛺️🎶

To say i’m excited is a HUGE understatement. I still need to pack my camping gear! Praying for sunshine 🙏 

If you’re also heading to Worthy Farm, drop me a message. Let’s meet-up! First drink is on me.

Next week’s Geekout will be left in the safe hands of Martin SFP Bryant (co-editor).

I will be in no fit state to write anything. I also don’t fancy my chances of opening my laptop in the middle of a field, trying to connect to wifi! 🐄 📶



This is one of the most useful and insightful social media trend reports I’ve read this year…

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Dash Hudson reports are always a must-read. This is worth downloading now.



Geekout pick of the hottest headlines in social this week:

  1. Meta is putting its European AI assistant launch on hold [PAUSING

  2. Threads finally launches its API for developers [INTEGRATING]

  3. TikTok just launched a new Instagram-like app called Whee [CLONING]

  4. TikTok has overtaken Twitter (X) as a source of news for the first time [NEWS-BREAKING

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Is social media really anything like tobacco?

Should social media apps have health warnings? The US surgeon general kicked up a storm this week arguing that they should.

Writing in the New York Times, Vivek Murthy said:

A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe.

Evidence from tobacco studies show that warning labels can increase awareness and change behavior. When asked if a warning from the surgeon general would prompt them to limit or monitor their children’s social media use, 76 percent of people in one recent survey of Latino parents said yes.

– Vivek Murthy, US surgeon general

But while tobacco absolutely, indisputably causes health problems such as lung cancer, there is no clear evidence of a negative health impact of social media.

Sure, we can all point to examples of people who have been driven to depression or worse by social media. But is social media the root cause in a significant number of cases? And would warning labels even help if it is?

As Dave Lee wrote for Bloomberg this week, you simply cannot compare smoking, which causes obvious health problems to smokers and people around them, with social media which has lots of benefits for society along with harms.

And where would these ‘labels’ even go? In app store listings? On screen when you create an account? Or every time you open the app? Flashed up at random? Why would anyone pay attention to them?

Warning labels are a poor fit for a far more nuanced problem, and it’s a little sad that the USA’s most senior public health official is bringing a butter knife to a scalpel fight.

Meanwhile, there are other poorly thought through ‘solutions’ to the young social media ‘problem’: Australia has a proposal for face scanning tech, while New York has officially banned ‘addictive’ feeds for teens (okay, now define addictive).

Rushing to solve a problem before its properly understood risks doing a lot more harm than good. But hey politicians like to be seen to be doing something, don’t they?



Everything else you worth knowing about from the past seven days…

Meta / Facebook 👥


WhatsApp / Threads 💬🧵

Twitter (‘X’) 🤡

YouTube 📺

TikTok 📱

Reddit / Snapchat / Discord 👽



Share this one with the chronic oversharer in your life…



Justin Timberlake’s arrest mugshot this week the perfect meme target:



Flashmobs are back, baby, with a TikTok twist.

This video was really well received - great job, Reiss.

…and WhatsApp revived sitcom Modern Family for a new ad



I swear LinkedIn rots people’s brains. This LinkedIn "influencer" got cancelled this week for his smiling selfie on a post about firing his employee.

Posts like this must just be pure engagement bait… right?



Can chewing gum give you a chiseled jawline? It’s in no way settled science, but that hasn’t stopped gum brands pushing the line on TikTok.



“If you want to reach the most influential people in the world, not just social media influencers... X is by far the best”

– Elon Musk pitching X to top ad execs in Cannes this week

  • Musk also struck a more level-headed tone to advertisers on free speech than he has in the past

  • “Mandating mass scanning of private communications fundamentally undermines encryption. Full stop” – Signal president Meredith Whittaker talks tough on encryption



Butterflies is an app “where humans and AIs interact with each other through posts and DMs.”




At least a dozen accounts with over 1 million followers complained within the last few weeks that their check marks had been removed.

However, a source tells me TikTok told them: “They ran an audit on the verified account program. They removed verification from anybody who is missing paperwork.”


😮 WTF?!

This is Black Mirror IRL: The world’s first AI beauty pageant points to the future of social media influencers. The winner walks away with a $20,000 prize purse.

Critics argue that Miss AI is a celebration of unrealistic beauty standards and highly sexualised fake influencers.



Hot jobs in social media right now:



Social media features heading for the graveyard:

Decentralised social networks are increasingly something you should know about. This guide is a good startt.




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



40% ⬇

– How much X/Twitter’s revenue dropped year-on-year, in the first full half year after Elon Musk bought it

  • X’s share of social media spending by big U.S. advertisers has fallen to under 1%

  • TikTok has overtaken Twitter/X as a source of news for the first time

  • MrBeast expects to make $700 million in revenue this year



Social media beats publishers as source of news globally.

Social media is the main gateway to news for 29% of people. Up from 23% six years ago.



  • Meta has shaken up Reality Labs, creating a new Wearables group and laying off some employees. [The Verge]

  • Meta’s ‘efficiency’ is coming for its top managers. Zuck reportedly wants to cut the number of VPs at the company. [Quartz]

  • Instagram users are worried about AI scraping their photos. [Fast Company]

  • Meta has been accused of trying to discredit and ‘intimidate’ ad researchers in Brazil. [The Register]

  • Meta has removed a block on election-related queries via AI in India while Google still applying limits. [TechCrunch]

  • Meta Quest 3’s Augments feature has been “heavily delayed” as CTO Boz say it wasn't good enough. [Upload VR]

  • Meta reportedly began work on a Quest Pro 2 in November last year. [Upload VR]

  • Meta must face an Australian billionaire's US lawsuit over scam Facebook crypto ads, a judge has ruled. [Reuters $$$]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook has added an engagement feature for Gifts: Question Gifts. [@oncescuradu]


  • Instagram has been spotted highlighting new Threads posts on profiles [@jaskaransainiz]

  • Instagram has added a more user-friendly way to reorder photos in Carousels. [@lindseygamble_]


  • Messenger now lets you end and receive large files up to 100MB directly from your phone. [@messenger]


  • Threads appears to be testing a larger font if you click on a Thread. [@lucaspuskaric]


  • WhatsApp is working on additional default chat themes. [@WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is testing the ability to re-order custom sticker packs, and more. [@oncescuradu]

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

  • Meta Verified for Business has a discounted introductory price for the first 12 months for new subscribers only. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Logitech has released a special stylus designed for artists working with Meta Quest in 3D. [The Verge]



  • X is pitching advertisers on the potential of its ‘The Big 3’ exclusive hosting rights. [Social Media Today]



  • US billionaire Frank McCourt wants to buy TikTok to ‘save society’. [France24]

  • The US FTC has referred a complaint about TikTok's adherence to child privacy law to the Department of Justice. [AP]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok has launched a new Media Literacy Hub. [TikTok Newsroom]

  • Some locations on TikTok are now showing categories for videos, such as ‘food & drink’ and ‘things to do’. [@girlpowermarketing]

  • TikTok has added a swipe right gesture to create a new story, plus a new ‘add story’ button top-left. [@MattNavarra]

  • TikTok has expanded its ‘Out of Phone’ ad offering to include UGC. [Social Media Today]

  • TikTok is testing two new content composers ‘Clips’ and ‘Camera’. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok has added an Artist Zone within the app, to let you check analytics and trending content. [@jonahmanzano]

  • TikTok has added a commercial music library integration for Adobe Express. [Social Media Today]



  • YouTube will ask iOS users to 'Allow’ tracking for personalised ads. [9to5Google]

  • Snapchat will pay $15 million to settle discrimination and harassment lawsuit in California. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • LinkedIn is targeting B2C marketers as it looks too boost its ad revenue. [Digiday $$$]

  • MrBeast is planning to launch a beverage brand and mobile game in 2025. [TubeFilter]

  • The Daily Mail plans to debut a dozen YouTube shows in 2024, in a long-form video push. [Digiday $$$]

New features and tests:

  • YouTube has been spotted testing its unpopular new desktop UI with non-Premium users. [@oncescuradu]

  • Snapchat has launched brand safety verification with IAS. [Social Media Today]

  • Mastodon is working on support for a "creator" tag so your social web profile is attributed to links from your site. [@quillmatiq]

  • Influencer shopping app LTK now has an automatic Instagram DM tool. [TechCrunch]



Drug dealers have used Snapchat to sell fake pills to teens, but these opioids are often laced with fentanyl, helping to fuel an overdose epidemic”



Let’s end with a bit of relationship advice:

“To create a feeling of security, it’s less about posting about the relationship eg tagging your partner in a story or hard launching them on IG..

What fosters a real sense of security is the way you interact with others online - liking random hot people’s selfies, NOT shutting down threats from attractive people”


📅 BACK NEXT WEEK (sort of)…

Right, folks… You are now fully debriefed on everything new in social this week.

Your social media mega-brain just added a few IQ points. 🧠


I’m always curious to know who makes it down this far in the newsletter.

If you’re reading this, hit reply and send me the GIF that sums up your week!


Time for me to head off and pack for Glastonbury. ⛺️🎶

Look out for me on the BBC Glastonbury coverage.

I will be the guy lying down in a random field nursing the mother of all hangovers. 🤢

Goodbye geeks!

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

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