Bustin' made Zuck feel good

...The time Facebook's 'Ghostbusters' targeted Snapchat 👻

Hello, geeks!

This week has been 🧨 in social media land. So let’s get into it ASAP.

But first… Two top tools saving me hours every week right now. You can try both of them for FREE!

  • Trovy for Threads - A simple but super-useful Threads analytics tool

  • Wiseone - A.I enhanced web browsing + auto-article summarisation tool

*Bonus: Skip to the end for 5 must-read books about social media in 2024.

Earlier this week I finally got (Andy) Stoned (i’ll explain the what means in a moment) after sharing an article critical of Meta’s ‘sneaky’ change that changed the default settings for limiting political content on Instagram.

For those who don’t know Andy Stone, he’s Meta’s chief comms pitbull who has a reputation for trolling journalists on Twitter who are critical of Meta.

This week, I also got the Andy Stone treatment (mildly).

Typically, I don’t tend to feed the trolls. But I had 10 minutes to spare, so…

I dropped my response:

I had some backup…

I posted my reply to three days ago. I’m still awaiting Andy’s response. 🤷‍♂️

🚨🚨 DON’T MISS THIS…! 

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It’s awesome! It saves me hours every month. And you can try it for FREE. 👌

Measure Studio is an AI-powered content intelligence platform used by top social media managers, and built by folks who understand the pain points of the job. Because they did it too!

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  • Want to analyze content with AI to quickly improve performance

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Don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself!

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🔥 GEEKOUT HOT 5

Geekout’s pick of the hottest headlines in social this week:

  1. U.S. Senators Push to Declassify TikTok Intelligence Briefings [UNCOVERING]

  2. Twitter Usage Down By A Quarter Since Elon Musk’s Takeover [EXITING

  3. Instagram Users Outraged By ‘Sneaky’ Limiting Of Political Content [DEFAULTING]

  4. Facebook Snooped On Users’ Snapchat Traffic In Secret ‘Project Ghostbusters’ Program [SPYING]

  5. E.U. Launched Investigation Into Meta’s ‘Pay For Priviacy’ Subscription Fee [PROBING]

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🚨 EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT…

Who you gonna hack? Snapchat…?

Mark Zuckerberg might be Mr Cattlefarming-and-Japanese-McDonalds these days, but this week we got a reminder of just how brutally ruthless he can be in business.

Unsealed court filings revealed a secret plan Meta (then called Facebook) once had. "Project Ghostbusters” was designed to steal valuable datat about Snapchat through its users' devices.

You might remember Facebook had acquired an Israeli startup called Onavo, which made tools to help smartphone users use less mobile data. But they could also tell the company which apps users were using the most.

But Facebook wanted more data about exactly how users were using Snapchat… and it went right to the top:

“Whenever someone asks a question about Snapchat, the answer is usually that because their traffic is encrypted we have no analytics about them,” said Mark Zuckerberg in an email to three Facebook executives in 2016, unsealed in Meta’s antitrust case on Saturday.

“It seems important to figure out a new way to get reliable analytics about them… You should figure out how to do this.”

Some with in the company weren’t keen on the idea, but Zuckerberg wanted it done (it doesn’t seem it ultimately was).

While Meta claims this report is old news, it’s a reminder that cuddly ‘Zuck’ is also the man ultimately responsible for the company’s many misdeeds over the years… and there might be more to come back and bite him in the years to come.

_____________

How much politics should there be on Instagram and Threads?

Whether or not you think it’s a good idea for Instagram and Threads to limit political content in users’ feed by default, there’s no doubt Meta has screwed up the way it told users about this divisive feature.

As a recap, the company announced a few weeks ago that it would limit political content in people’s feeds, allowing you to turn the politics tap back on if you wanted to.

But not everyone sees announcements like that, so there was shock among users this week when the change rolled out. Creators of political content found it particularly frustrating, as you would expect.

The Daily Beast called it ‘sneaky’, which as Meta comms exec Andy Stone felt he needed to point out to me, wasn’t true - they had announced it.

But the reaction from users proves that wasn’t enough. A change like this really needs an obvious banner at the top of the feed when it rolls out, with an easy link to switching politics back on.

Hopefully Meta has learned a lesson here, but don’t expect them to reverse course and put politics in by default - the change is entirely in line with the way Meta has moved to sanitise our feeds in recent times, for better or worse.

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NEW & NOTEWORTHY

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

Meta / Facebook

Instagram / Messenger

  • Instagram leans further into private sharing with ‘Blend’, a shared Reels feed that recommends videos based on Reels you previously shared with friends in DMs (above) 📱

  • Instagram has added the ability for users to mention a specific photo or video in carousel post comments

  • Instagram has added a link history section, just like Facebook

  • Meta says it will make E2EE in Messenger default in the coming months

Threads / WhatsApp

Twitter (‘X’)

YouTube

TikTok

  • TikTok has created a ‘Youth Council’ of 15 teens to advise execs on a range of platform issues 📣

  • TikTok's creator program has been accused of incentivising A.I. misinformation

  • ByteDance is pushing TikTok users to try Lemon8 as a TikTok ban looms

  • TikTok now lets creators join Creator Spotlight simply by turning on the feature in the settings

  • TikTok’s troubles in the U.S. got worse… The FTC might sue TikTok over its handling of users’ privacy and security

  • TikTok just spent $2.1m on new U.S. ad campaign in its battle to win hearts and minds with ban looming. Watch it here.

  • Universal Music and Spotify expanded their partnership amid TikTok dispute, with new tools for artists to promote their music

LinkedIn / Snapchat / Reddit / More…

  • Snapchat launched a bunch of new features, including generative AI lenses, longer video uploads, templates, and a Bitmoji pets feature (above) 🐶

  • LinkedIn is testing its own TikTok-like video feed… This will be interesting to see what content people create… And whether it sticks around longer than LinkedIn Stories.

  • LinkedIn rolled out its new messaging inbox for Company Pages globally.

  • Telegram has a new feature that gives you free Premium subscriptions, but it's a privacy nightmare

  • Telegram was ordered to temporarily stop working in Spain over media piracy complaints

  • Twitch has banned turning butts and boobs into green screens

  • Reddit added new generative AI ad tools, including Gen AI headline suggestions and custom asset cropping

.

😆 LOL

I feel seen 😬

Yes please TikTok, we need this… 👇

👉

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📈 MEMES

Have you seen this unhealthily chilled duck all over X this week? Click here to find out what it’s all about.

‘X as a PS1 game’ was a fun meme this week for gamers of a certain age. The original PlayStation launched in Japan 30 years ago 😳

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🌡️ VIRAL

Kate Middleton’s public announcement that she is being treated for cancer was supposed to put a line under the speculation, memes, and conspiracy theories that have blighted her for months.

And it seemed to be working….

But don’t expect that spirit to last. In fact, of course the conspiracy theories didn’t stop:

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🫨 DID YOU HEAR..?

Here’s a crazy story that has antitrust prosecutors in the US all excited: Facebook allegedly killed its Watch video service so Netflix would buy more ads from them…

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👀 MY FAV READS

This is a good look into the story behind the most obvious proof that Elon Musk definitely hasn’t dealt with the bots on X.

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🙊 WHAT DID YOU SAY?!

“I don’t like the hypocrisy…

“Look at what we're accusing TikTok of, and then go look at Facebook and Google...”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks US lawmakers should be more evenhanded when they look at what happens to Americans’ data on social media

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😮 WTF?!

A solar eclipse is coming to the USA, so of course TikTokers are being sensible about it… right?

Also:

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🤦 FAIL

“Hundreds of antiabortion ads on Meta’s platforms have been disseminated all over the world, new research finds.”

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📲 NEW APP ALERT

Does the world need another photo-sharing app? Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer thinks so.

Say hello to Shine. But people really don’t like its design. It looks YEARS out of date…

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👌 PRO TIPS: YOUTUBE EDITION

Don’t delete videos! YouTube says it can be back for the health of your channel.

Instead, either keep them public or make them unlisted:

Also:

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🪦 RIP

Social media features heading for the graveyard:

The Facebook News shutdown continues with the US and Australia, in early April:

Also:

  • ByteDance has shut down its WhatsApp clone called LetsChat in Africa. (i wasn’t even aware of the app until i saw this)

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🤖 SOCIAL A.I.

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

Meta’s Ray-Ban smart glasses will soon come with an A.I. assistant built in.

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📊 SOCIAL STATS

$400 billion

YouTube’s estimated valuation - that’s more than Disney and Comcast combined!

  • X’s estimated daily active users in the US are down 18% in the past year

  • X saw its cost per impressions (CPMs) fall 38% year-over-year compared to last February, a new report found

  • 17% of kids scroll TikTok "almost constantly"

  • Google says it blocked or removed over 5.5 billion ads, slightly up from the prior year

  • A quarter of YouTube’s paid creators are earning money with Shorts

  • Where and how Gen Alpha consumes content in 2024

  • Nano-influencers (<10,000 followers) boast Instagram's highest engagement rate at 6.23%

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📈 CHARTED

Emarketer projects creators will make $13.7 billion on social media in 2024, up 17% from 2023:

  • Influencer Rates: How much influencers really cost in 2024 (some people think the amounts listed here are way off)

  • Only a third of UK parents (33%) say they use parental tools available to help manage online safety, such as daily screen time caps

  • No one makes money from its users quite like Meta

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MORE META NEWS

  • Meta has been accused of restricting reproductive health information. [The Guardian]

  • A mothers' group protested in front of Meta’s offices, calling for big tech regulation. [NBC News]

  • Meta’s Oversight Board has urged the company to change how it moderates the Arabic word ‘shaheed’. [Engadget]

  • Meta says “restrictive approach” to sharing AI models might reduce US tech’s global influence. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Tesla has bought Facebook and Instagram ads for the first time as it struggles with fierce competition. [Quartz]

  • Meta is only allowing a few Quest developers to disable the annoying boundary in mixed reality. [Upload VR]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

New features and tests:

Facebook:

  • Facebook is testing a tweaked UI for new updates. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook has added a ‘Professional Access’ section, which contains shortcuts to Meta Verified and Public Presence. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook now lets you give priority access to people in your broadcast channel to posts, before they hit the page. [@cmcalgary]

  • Facebook has been spotted showing search strings on Reels. [@oncescuradu]

Instagram:

  • Instagram is testing new story backgrounds on Android. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram has been spotted relocating the timestamp on posts. [@lindseygamble_]

  • Instagram now lets you add outlined text to Reels, similar to TikTok. [@MattNavarra]

Whatsapp:

  • WhatsApp is working on making it easier to post text-based status updates [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is testing the ability to pin contacts and groups for easy calling [Android Police]

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

  • Meta has given its ad preview tool a new design. [Jon Loomer]

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MORE X NEWS

  • An Australian government department has quite X, saying it’s no longer safe or productive. [The Guardian]

  • X continues to have a problem with scam links. [Gizmodo]

  • The UK Conservative party has faced criticism for an attack video against the Labour mayor of London, posted on X. [The Guardian]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • A marketer’s guide to X in 2024: Marketing strategies, audience insights and ad concerns. [eMarketer]

New features and tests

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MORE TIKTOK NEWS

  • ByteDance reportedly has no intention to sell TikTok in the US [TechInAsia]

  • Lawyers say TikTok has strong First Amendment case against ban bill [The Information $$$]

  • The FTC might sue TikTok over its handling of users’ privacy and security. [Politico]

  • TikTok Shop sellers in China have complained the platform gas tightened its US rule enforcement. [Reuters $$$]

  • TikTok has curtailed the German far right’s top EU election candidate

    “due to repeated violations of community guidelines”. [Politico]

  • TikTokers feel betrayed by their favourite congressman voting to ban the app — and they aren't letting him off with an apology. [Business Insider]

  • …and some congress members say their own kids begged them not support a ban, fearing they would "get bullied" at school. [Business Insider $$$]

  • US investors with stakes in TikTok face criticism for their positions. [New York Times $$$]

  • A lawmaker who led calls for a TikTok ban because of surveillance risks has quit… to join a surveillance company. [Rolling Stone]

  • TikTok is changing its annual performance reviews, some staff are anxious. [Business Insider $$$]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok is testing new options for translating post descriptions, comments, photo titles, video captions, and text in videos. [@theahmedghanem]

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💥 EVEN MORE SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS & UPDATES

  • A new bill would let Florida parents sue social media companies for $10,000 for failing to remove the account of a child under 14. [Business Insider]

  • Financial ads on social media must now carry risk warnings in the UK. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • …and 'Finfluencers' and firms have been warned in the UK that crypto meme ads can not be misleading. [Mashable]

  • YouTube has issued a cease and desist order to a bizarre Chinese clone. [404 Media]

  • YouTube's new Chief Product Officer has introduces herself with a new video series. [TubeFilter]

  • Canadian schools are suing Meta, ByteDance and Snap over social media addiction. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Reddit may need to ramp up spending on content moderation, analysts say. [Reuters $$$]

  • Reddit has announced a new partnership that will enable Cision users to examine Reddit data to find trend more in-depth trend insights. [Social Media Today]

  • Women’s faces are being stolen for A.I. ads on YouTube selling ED pills and praising Putin. [Washington Post $$$]

  • The Kremlin claims Telegram is being “used for terrorist purposes”. [Politico]

  • Truth Social's stock jumped by as much as 55% in early trading after it went public, but Trump can’t cash out yet. [Axios]

  • …but Reddit shares plunged 25% in two days, ending below their first day close. [CNBC]

  • An Intel analyst is alleged to have shared NSA intelligence with followers of an anti-government extremist movement. [Washington Post $$$]

  • Artifact isn’t dying after all… at least not yet. [TechCrunch]

  • Criminals are weaponising child abuse imagery to ban Discord servers. [404 Media]

  • The EU has published election security guidance for social media giants and others in scope of DSA. [TechCrunch]

  • China’s Instagram-like Xiaohongshu makes first profit. [Financial Times $$$]

  • The BBC’s director general has warned against social media platforms having too much power. [Telegraph $$$]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • The essential guide to using images legally online. [Search Engine Journal]

  • 9 ways to optimise your LinkedIn company page in 2024. [Hootsuite]

  • How Gen-Z uses Pinterest. [Best]

  • Pinterest has shared insights into how it uses ‘Non-Engagement Signals’ to optimise its algorithms for positive engagement. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • LinkedIn has added dynamic UTM parameters to campaign tracking. [Social Media Today]

  • Snapchat has added the ability to activate subtitles with certain videos only. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Snap has expanded its partnership with IAS to create more brand safety tools for advertisers. [Axios]

  • YouTube is rolling out a ‘Popular Sounds on Shorts’ shelf. [@jonahmanzano]

  • YouTube has added improved audience retention data and streamlined pre-checks. [Social Media Today]

  • YouTube has expanded testing of its new player UI. [@oncescuradu]

  • CapCut has improved retouching on desktop. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Pinterest has a new Board Preview feature. [@lindseygamble_]

.

📰 WEEKEND READS

“Twitter, now X, was once a useful site for breaking news. The Baltimore bridge collapse shows those days are long gone.”

.

😳 AND FINALLY…

TikTok users buy all kinds of nonsense crap these days… 🐶 💬

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📅 BACK NEXT WEEK…

… Alrighty then folks. That’s Geekout wrapped up for another week. 👊 

LETS MEETUP…

I will be speaking at a couple of BIG conferences in Europe this summer:

If you are going (or thinking of going) to either event, HMU for a Geekout meetup. I also might be able to get you some discounted tickets 🎟️

Right… I’m heading off to check if Andy Stone has replied yet.

I’m doubtful.

Goodbye geeks!

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

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