big question: is skeeting better than tweeting?
Matt's away... let's play!
This week’s Geekout is DIFFERENT, but reassuringly the same.
You see, Matt’s away in Dubai at the Nas Summit so today’s newsletter is written by me, Martin SFP Bryant (hello!).
Fear not though! I’ve been working on Geekout with Matt since it started, so today’s edition is just as packed with social media news as ever…
This week for me has been all about Bluesky, as suddenly all of tech-media Twitter descended on it in one go.
I don’t have any invites at the moment (sorry!) and it remains to be seen if it can keep up the momentum it has now. But it’s worth taking a look if you can.
The BIG question over there: should Bluesky posts be called skeets?
Meanwhile, despite Elon screwing Twitter up royally with pretty much every decision he makes, he could always chuck it all in and become a successful creator.
Anyway, enough tittle-tattle. Here’s this week’s biggest news:
🔥 GEEKOUT HOT 5
Bluesky Is Social Media’s Hottest Club [HUNGRY FOR INVITES]
TikTok Tests A.I. Avatar Maker [LOOKING GOOD]
Meta Is All-In On A.I. [OPEN THE POD BAY DOORS]
Twitter Descends Into Checkmark Chaos [CHECK YOUR HEAD]
Facebook Glitch Hugely Overcharges Advertisers [REFUND PLEASE]
Are you ready? This is the bit where we dive into a list of all the other BIG news you need to know about, in one quick burst. Let’s goooo…
Meta / Facebook / Instagram / WhatsApp
Instagram’s Twitter challenger is taking shape… Meta is about to force its own checkout on shops… Meta’s avatars have got an upgrade… Instagram now supports hand gestures for Reels recording… Instagram now lets you see who saw a Story for longer…
Facebook is getting tougher on Group spam… Messenger has a handy new search feature… WhatsApp FINALLY supports multiple phones… and WhatsApp is testing fingerprint-locked chats.
Twitter seems to be forcing you to buy a checkmark before you can offer Subscriptions… But Twitter might make it easier to remove a subscription if Twitter forced it on your for free… Twitter rolled out new labels for tweets that might break its rules…
Twitter always complies with government demands under Musk (it used to fight some)… Twitter has blocked logged-out users from advanced search… Twitter’s new API prices have led Microsoft and NYC’s MTA to withdraw useful services… and Elon hinted that he might bring back Fleets, Vine, and Periscope (but he says a lot of things)…
🙌 GET MORE FROM GEEKOUT
Geekout PRO is growing fast, with hundreds of social media pros getting more from Matt:
Breaking news alerts on WhatsApp
VIP group chat
…and more to come
…and all you need is WhatsApp and a subscription
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TikTok + YouTube
TikTok is testing location-based video targeting for business accounts… TikTok is opening up its Shop product in beta…
YouTube now supports scheduled product drops… YouTube has launched new ad products to target Gen-Z… YouTube Music is rolling out podcast support in the US…
…and the rest
LinkedIn is testing a ‘custom button’ for Premium profiles… LinkedIn now lets you highlight your ‘top skills’…
BeReal is testing letting UK users post multiple times per day… Clubhouse laid off over half its staff as it works on a whole new version of its platform… Pinterest announced a multi-year ads partnership with Amazon… and Reddit is testing permanent chat channels in subreddits
PRO TIP: There’s always a full roundup of all the week’s news towards the end of the newsletter.
👀 DID YOU SEE
✨ PHEW: LinkedIn no longer seems to penalise post edits [TWEAK AWAY]
🔐 LOCKED UP: Convicts are livestreaming from UK prisons [CONTRA-BANNED]
🧐 LOOK OUT: Brand Monitoring tools and tips for 2023 [SHOW ME]
🙈 OOPS: Social media manager etiquette blunders (And How To Avoid Them) [I CAN’T LOOK]
Okay then… shall we dig a little deeper? Next up, the hot topics from this week, and why they matter. 👇
PS: Matt’s back next week!
🚨 Everyone's talking about...
The race to build A.I. into everything is showing no sign of slowing down. I opened Skype for the first time in a while this morning, to find even it now has an A.I. chatbot… for some reason.
So it’s no surprise that Meta has been scrambling to catch up on all things A.I.
Tying in with this week’s quarterly earnings, Mark Zuckerberg explained some of the ways we’ll see A.I. built into Meta’s products in the coming months:
“We’re exploring chat experiences in WhatsApp and Messenger, visual creation tools for posts in Facebook and Instagram and ads, and over time video and multi-modal experiences as well”
And it seems A.I. can have a valuable impact:
“Our investment in recommendations and ranking systems has driven a lot of the results that we're seeing today across our discovery engine, Reels, and ads.”
No wonder Meta plans to double the amount of A.I.-based recommendations that appear in users’ feeds.
But despite what you might have read in some quarters, all this A.I. activity does not mean Meta is dropping the metaverse. Zuckerberg has denied that “narrative”.
Elsewhere in social media A.I. this week, we’ve had (via Matt!) a look at TikTok’s new generative AI avatar feature. More on that below.
But just because you can add A.I. to pretty much anything social, it doesn’t mean you should.
It turns out that Snapchat’s A.I. chatbot isn’t popular with all users. It’s still something of a work in progress.
But at least you can remove it from being pinned to the top of your chat list.. if you subscribe to Snapchat+.
Personally, I opened Snapchat’s chatbot once, and–like the one in Skype–wondered why it really needed to be there, and closed it again. 🤷♂️
Oh Elon, Elon, Elon. As last week’s newsletter went out, we were just beginning what turned into several days of checkmark chaos.
First, major news publishers and other brands lost their gold checkmarks. The company quietly admitted it had screwed up, and most got restored eventually.
But there seems to be little rhyme and reason to the whole Twitter checkmark situation.
Probably the dumbest moment this week was when an OBVIOUSLY fake Disney Junior account was handed a gold checkmark. A fake MTV challenge account also got one.
And while the $1,000 per month gold checkmark might be valuable for brands, Twitter doesn’t exactly inspire confidence with with revelation that application fees are non-refundable if you’re rejected!
Twitter really is trying to juice subscriptions by making them necessary to do any other business with the company on its platform. Last week, we learned all advertisers needed a blue or gold checkmark, and now it seems you’ll soon need to be a Blue subscriber to earn money from Subscriptions.
But Twitter Blue continues to have something of an icky reputation among power users. Removing legacy checkmarks from old-school verified users has only made things worse.
Impersonation is rife and there’s no way to quickly tell whether that journalists breaking a big story is the real deal. Tweets are becoming harder to believe.
The move this week to prioritise Blue subscribers in replies has also dragged platform quality down, as trolls and people with zero insight or interesting things to say often appear at the top of threads, rather than the most useful and interesting replies.
No wonder Dril and other popular accounts announced a ‘Block the Blue’ campaign this week, encouraging users to block any checkmarked user they saw.
Musk responded by giving those people ‘spite checkmarks’, although he also restored checkmarks to many accounts with more than 1 million followers too. Even if that was done in good faith, the fact it now looks like big celebrities endorse Twitter’s paid subscription could lead to lawsuits.
At least it seems Twitter will make it easier to cancel Blue when a user didn’t ask for it in the first place.
This might all have been fine for Musk if Blue subscriptions were rising as a result, but it doesn’t seem they are. Independent analysis this week showed daily net increases in Twitter Blue subscriptions as low as 28. Not 28,000 or even 2,800… just TWENTY EIGHT.
No wonder former Facebook exec Alex Stamos has called the whole debacle a 'historical self-own'.
If it feels like it could be the beginning of the end for Twitter, what’s next for the platform’s most active and engaged users?
Plenty of platforms have emerged in recent times with the aim of becoming ‘Twitter 2’ (one is even called T2!), but none have really seemed like they had a shot at succeeding.
However, if the past couple of days over at Bluesky are anything to go by, it currently has the best chance.
Power users from the worlds of tech and media descended on Bluesky en masse this week and yesterday made the app feel like Twitter at it’s shitposting best.
Even Twitter royalty like Dril and AOC made the leap over.
Debates raged over whether posts should be called ‘skeets’, the usual freakouts of boilerplate terms of service (not worth worrying yourself about at this stage of the platform’s life) raged, and some of Twitter’s age-old trollish arguments ported over to a platform that hasn’t got around to rolling out a blocking feature yet.
But it’s unclear how long the excitement will last.
Twitter’s real value is finding out what’s happening right now and debating it in real-time with the people making the headlines and the journalists reporting on them.
If Bluesky remains shitpost central, it won’t become Twitter 2. I saw a couple of journalists on there yesterday pledge never to post news on the platform. Would that really be useful in the longterm?
It’s worth remembering that Bluesky began as a project within Twitter, and was then spun-out with Jack Dorsey’s money to make something better and less centralised than Twitter - think Mastodon, but built from the ground up in 2023.
As Bluesky CEO Jay Graber posted (skeeted?) yesterday: “This entire app was meant to be a quick hack while we finished the protocol, lol. Oops.”
In other words, some Twitter power users might be ready to make Bluesky their new home, but Bluesky might not be quite ready for them
😆 LOL tweets
Let’s face it, there are people who already use LinkedIn as a dating service but maybe the platform should make it official…
LinkedIn Premium dating feature https://t.co/4xGvCffeUm
— Soren Iverson (@soren_iverson)
Apr 22, 2023
he offers that too https://t.co/mkKy1HYHTF
— actioncookbook (@actioncookbook)
Apr 20, 2023
💡 New feature spotlight
I’ve given it a mention above, but it’s worth flagging this in more detail, as it drove a lot of chatter this week.
Being able to create a fancy A.I.-boosted avatar directly inside TikTok could end up ‘Sherlocking’ a bunch of third-party apps - especially if Instagram follows suit. And I think we can be pretty sure it will.
Matt explains how it works in this thread. Tap through for the details 👇
TikTok has a NEW generative AI avatar creator! 🤖🎨📷
View thread to see what it can do 👇 https://t.co/TDBbwok6bt
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra)
Apr 25, 2023
Bluesky might be the Twitter-alternative flavour of the month but Instagram’s own efforts building an app codenamed ‘Barcelona’ seem to be coming along well.
Social Media Today has a good summary of everything we know so far about the app, much of which has come from Alessandro’s code digging like this 👇
Introducing [Barcelona] —
#Instagram for your thoughts 👀 https://t.co/I4W55qOOPQ
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a)
Apr 24, 2023
💬 Real talk
Want to follow in MrBeast’s footsteps to YouTube fame and fortune?
Sorry… he’s here to warn you against it…
If you want to go to a fancy dress party as Zuck and have a REALLY big budget… well, look no further.
Every now and then, Meta manages to make a mega-blooper that just so happens to play in its favour. This week, it emerged the company caused huge overspend on many Facebook advertiser accounts.
Not a good look in these expensive times…
👀 Top reads
In this piece, Taylor Lorenz goes inside Gen Z’s online pivot from irony and sarcasm to optimism and sincerity…. Cringe is cool.
And don’t miss…
How Facebook and Instagram became marketplaces for child sex trafficking
How an undercover content moderator polices the metaverse
📺 Worth a watch
This video is a good reminder that everything you post publicly on social media could be training an A.I. somewhere.
In this case, it was TikTok dances and the Mannequin Challenge …
🧵 Top thread
This thread goes into detail about using memes for growth on different platforms.
And while it’s aimed at newsletter writers, it’s a useful primer for anyone. 👇
Some people make millions. Other people make memes.
...and some people use memes to get millions of followers and newsletter subscribers.
Here's how: https://t.co/kPkPRjgSiN
— Matt McGarry (@JMatthewMcGarry)
Apr 3, 2023
📊 Stats of the week
Reels are reel-y working for Instagram and Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg says people spent 24% more time on Instagram after Meta launched AI-powered Reels https://t.co/9dvMb393Ug
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra)
Apr 27, 2023
“Reels also continue to become more social with people re-sharing Reels more than 2 billion times every day.”
💬 You can quote me on that
When Matt’s quoted in the news, you’ll find it here:
This week, Matt spoke to BBC News about what happens when ‘playground politics’ hits social media:
He spoke to BBC News about the fake Disney account that got a gold checkmark
He told to the Verge about TikTok’s latest A.I. tool.
He shared his thoughts on Elon Musk’s open hostility to brands with Chris Stokel-Walker for the i newspaper.
He spoke to the Daily Express about the risks to the Royal family following Twitter’s verification chaos
…and he didn’t mince his words when speaking to The Drum about Twitter’s decision to make all advertisers pay for a checkmark.
Instagram and Facebook will force their checkout experience on Shops soon. [TechCrunch]
Meta has won an antitrust lawsuit, under appeal, against dozens of US state attorneys general. [TechCrunch]
Instagram is having a staff reshuffle under four new product groups called Sharing, Home, Communities and Business. [The Information $$$]
Meta has combined its advertising product, business messaging and commerce departments into one division. [The Information $$$]
Nick Clegg says TikTok's presence in the US, while China bars Meta, isn't a level playing field. [Bloomberg $$$]
Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune was up $10 billion following this week’s Meta quarterly results. [Bloomberg $$$]
New features and tests:
Meta’s avatars are getting an upgrade, with new body shapes and improved hair. [The Verge]
Meta has introduced a spam filter for Groups. [@oncescuradu]
Facebook now displays a Boost button under the post composer. [@oncescuradu]
Facebook has added the ability to boost Reels on Android. [@oncescuradu]
Facebook now lets creators manually enable or disable Stars per video or Reel. [@oncescuradu]
Facebook now lets users preview community chat conversations before they join. [@oncescuradu]
Instagram has added a ‘video-scrubbing’ feature for Reels on iOS. [@oncescuradu]
Instagram now supports hand gestures to start and stop Reels recording. [@ahmedghanem]
Instagram is testing the ability to allow other users to download your Reels. [@hammodoh1]
Instagram now displays viewers for a Story beyond 48 hours. [@hammodoh1]
Instagram now offers some users an ‘add to story/view story’ option button. [@prabodhaonline]
Instagram has been spotted letting you respond to a question sticker with a photo or video. [@liahaberman]
Instagram could soon let you add polls to the comment section of a post. [@alex193a]
Instagram is working on the ability to choose who can share or interact with your avatar. [@alex193a]
Instagram could soon let you add a caption to Stories. [@alex193a]
Instagram is working on a ‘see shared activity’ option. [@alex193a]
Messenger has been spotted offering a Search feature for message effects, suggested avatars, stickers, and GIFs. [@oncescuradu]
WhatsApp has added the much-requested ability to use the same account on multiple phones. [The Verge]
WhatsApp is testing the ability to locked chats with a fingerprint. [WABetaInfo]
WhatsApp has been spotted offering a ‘Business Help Center’. [@techjalal]
WhatsApp is testing the ability to directly reply to a call with a text from the Notification Center. [WABetaInfo]
WhatsApp is working on an improved organisation system for Communities. [WABetaInfo]
VR, adtech, and more:
Twitter has not refused a single government data request since Elon Musk took ownership, according to self-reported data. [Rest of World]
Twitter has changed how Blue is priced in the EU after being accused of breaking rules about how prices were displayed. [Insider]
Twitter has suspended ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli, again, after he launched a medical A.I. chatbot. [Gizmodo]
Twitter says it removed more content in first half of 2022 than in previous six months. [Reuters $$$]
Microsoft has removed direct Twitter sharing of game screenshots and videos from Xbox. [Eurogamer]
…and New York City’s MTA has also stopped offering travel alerts via Twitter. [Bloomberg $$$]
Elon Musk has hinted at bringing Back Fleets, Vine, and Periscope back. But don’t necessarily believe him. [Social Media Today]
New features and tests:
Twitter has started labelling tweets that potentially violate its hateful conduct rules. [@TwitterSafety]
Twitter has added a countdown until the edit button is unavailable, after two edits have been made. [@oncescuradu]
Twitter is using the ‘verified’ mentions column as a tease to promote Twitter Blue. [@MattNavarra]
Twitter has been spotted displaying a transparent effect on the nav bar. [@ahmedghanem]
Twitter says the Community Notes algorithm now boosts the number of helpful notes by 10%+. [@CommunityNotes]
Twitter has barred advanced search unless you’re logged in. [@MattNavrra]
Twitter is working on the "Highlights" profile tab. [@alex193a]
Irish government staff have been advised to remove TikTok from their devices. [Reuters $$$]
A cottage industry of Chinese scammers is targeting TikTok. [Financial Times $$$]
New features and tests:
TikTok is inviting some users to try its Shop product in beta. [Search Engine Land]
TikTok Business accounts can now apply for ‘Targeted Locations’ - to target specific countries as a video’s audience. [@YasserM86]
💥 More social media news and updates
YouTube’s ad revenue dropped 2.6% in Q1 2023, the third consecutive quarterly drop. [Variety]
YouTube Music contractors have voted to unionise. [Engadget]
ByteDance’s Lemon8 jumped 693 positions to become the second most downloaded lifestyle app in the U.S. in the last 30 days. [CNBC]
Clubhouse is cutting more than 50% of its staff as it works towards a new version of its product. [Clubhouse blog]
TikTok, Twitter, and Meta all face a countdown to comply with the EU’s tough new content law. [Wall Street Journal $$$]
The UK is set to legislate to create new regulator to tackle Big Tech. [Financial Times $$$]
Children under 13 would be banned from social media under new bipartisan Senate bill. [NBC News]
The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether people can sue public officials who block them on social media. [NBC News]
A Chinese influence campaign aimed at casting the United States as an irresponsible cyber power seems to have been uncovered. [Washington Post $$$]
Pinterest has announced a multi-year ads partnership with Amazon. [TechCrunch]
BeReal says it now has 20 million daily active users. [BeReal]
Yahoo has acquired social sports betting app Wagr. [TechCrunch]
Substack has clarified its stance on racist speech on Notes, but hasn’t explained how moderation will work on the platform. [The Verge]
Insights to give you an edge at work:
What content trends are emerging on YouTube? A new video series will help you find out. [Social Media Today]
YouTube has shared a primer on using copyrighted music on its platform. [Search Engine Journal]
New features and tests:
YouTube has introduced scheduled product drops for live shopping. [Social Media Today]
YouTube has announced new ad products to help brands reach Gen Z through music. [TubeFilter]
YouTube Music has officially rolled out podcast support in the US. [TechCrunch]
YouTube’s animated loading screen from Android TV now shows up on mobile, too. [9to5Google]
LinkedIn has launched a new original content series called ‘Catalyst’. [Social Media Today]
LinkedIn is testing a new ‘Custom Button’ feature for Premium subscriber profiles. [@MattNavarra]
LinkedIn appears to have removed an algorithmic penalty for editing a post. [@MattNavarra]
LinkedIn now lets you highlight your Top Skills in the 'About' section of your profile. [@MattNavarra]
Reddit is testing permanent chat channels in subreddits. [Engadget]
BeReal is testing the ability to share additional photos per day. The feature is currently available only in the UK. [Engagdet]
Bluesky is building an audio rooms product. [@BusMark_w_Nika]
Twitter alternative T2 has launched its own invites system. [TechCrunch]
Telegram has added shared chat folders and improved bots. [9to5Google]
Klarna is introducing social shopping features. [TubeFilter]
📖 Weekend reading
The Imgur apocalypse is going to break large parts of the internet
Brace yourself for the 2024 deepfake election
“I’m the Meta recruiter who was paid $190,000 for doing ‘nothing’. My Instagram Story got me fired”
The potential US TIkTok ban is a troubling sign that US legislators are adopting a techno-nationalist stance all too similar to China’s
Why we love voice notes
How BeReal missed its moment
😳 And finally...
One for the parents… and the kids.
📅 Back next week...
And there you go, you’re all caught up!
Thanks for sticking with the newsletter all the way through to the end, even without Matt around.
He’ll be back in your inbox next week.
In the meantime, I’m off to try to finish Dredge - the first game to combine horror and fishing 🎣, before the new Zelda and Final Fantasy games make it impossible for me to leave the house all summer.