Blue ticks, bots and bans

…Elon’s back at it again 🙄

Hello, geeks!

This week, it’s all about the blue ticks, bans, and bots. 

Before we get into it…  Instagram sent an small group of influencers early access to a NEW ‘Double Tap’ newsletter.

It gives you an inside look at hot new features, top tips, and viral trends.

Don’t tell instagram I shared this with you! 🤫 Check it out here.

Kicking things off this week… Elon activated Moron Mode™ again, further enraging the dwindling number of X fans he has left.

The ‘genius’ entrepreneur has decided to remove the ability for X users to hide their b̶a̶d̶g̶e̶ o̶f̶ s̶h̶a̶m̶e̶ blue check.

There was a time when people were prepared to pay thousands of dollars for a blue tick on Twitter. Now people are losing their shit at not being able to hide it after paying Elon Musk for the privilege.

Aaaannnyway… This week’s been a fun one for me. I attended Meta’s invite-only AI event in London.

We were also joined by an all-star panel of Meta execs, including Nick Clegg, and the ‘Godfather of A.I.’ Yann LeCun.

Here’s a sneak peek from inside the event. I will fill you in on the top talking points in moment.


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Geekout with our hottest picks of the week:

  1. X Faces Ban in Brazil as Elon Defies Government Order to Censor Users [ELON-MUSKING]

  2. Taylor Swift’s Music Returned to TikTok Despite Ongoing UMG Dispute [PUZZLING]

  3. TikTok’s New Instagram Rival Photo App Set to be Called ‘Notes’ [CONFUSING]

  4. Meta to Blur Nudes in Instagram DMs in Latest Teen Safety Move [SHIELDING]

  5. X to Remove Ability to Hide Blue Ticks for Premium Users [INFURIATING]

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Meta ‘sees reason’ on A.I.

If you wanted more proof of how seriously big social media companies are taking A.I., Meta’s big event in London this week provided it.

I was there alongside journalists and business leaders to hear from big names like Meta’s policy chief and former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and its highly respected A.I. boss, Yan LeCun.

We heard how the next generation of A.I. models will be even smarter, capable of ‘reasoning’ somewhat like a human. This could stop A.I. from making stupid mistakes, LeCun said.

Look out for the first versions of Meta’s Llama 3 model in the next month.

Meanwhile, Clegg said it was important to look out for the risks of A.I. helping to spread disinformation and disrupt elections, but that these tools had been used surprisingly little in elections so far this year.

But for all the bullishness I saw on stage, there are clear challenges in developing ever smarter and knowledgeable A.I.

Meta is reportedly so desperate for training data that it internally discussed simply risking lawsuits for copyright infringements (an approach other companies like OpenAI seem to be taking too). It even considered buying publisher Simon & Schuster 🤯

Yes, big companies are cutting corners to keep up in the A.I. race, but if you’re worried this means we’re heading towards a world where A.I. overtakes human intelligence, don’t listen to Elon Musk.

The far more credible voice of LeCun argues that large language models will never reach human-level intelligence.


X’s Grok is a Dumb News Reporter

The A.I. race in social media is leading to all sorts of features, good and bad. In recent months, the ‘Social A.I.’ feature in this newsletter has shown how developers at the big platforms are keen to try generative A.I. in as many different ways as possible.

But if you’re slapdash about it, you can mess up badly.

X has recently been testing a feature where the Grok A.I. summarises news stories. The problem is that Elon Musk’s famous distrust of the mainstream media seems to have led to it overweight ‘alternative’ (fake) views.

The result? It came up with an entirely false event: ‘Iran Strikes Tel Aviv with Heavy Missiles’.

Now, there’s Israel certainly is bracing itself for such a strike, but it certainly hadn’t happened last week.

And things aren’t getting better. Following the death of OJ Simpson yesterday, it wrote up a summary of an obviously satirical Onion story, presenting it as news.

As Grok rolls out more widely, displaying its obvious flaws doesn’t seem like a great idea.

No-one will likely believe the OJ Simpson story is true, but it does nothing to make X seem like the trustworthy source of news Musk wants it to be.

Twitter used to employ journalists to write summaries of news events as they broke on the platform. It worked well.

Cutting costs and racing to use A.I. as much as possible might seem like smart business but, like the A.I. itself, it can be really dumb.



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

👥 Meta / Messenger / Facebook

🤳🏻 Instagram

💬 Threads / WhatsApp

  • Meta has explained why the recent NYC earthquake took hours to hit the Trending list on Threads 📈

  • …and it’s now testing a new Trending “LIVE” feature to focus on real-time events (above)

  • Threads has released more details about its API, due to launch in June

  • Threads added a fun new Like button animation for Eid

  • Top creators, journalists, and activists have asked Meta to reverse its limits on political content on Instagram and Threads

  • WhatsApp will soon nudge you to 'start chatting' with contacts you've never messaged

  • WhatsApp's image editing tool is getting a useful upgrade, with 24 colour options

🤡 Twitter (‘X’)

📺 YouTube


👤 LinkedIn

👻 Snapchat / Discord / BeReal

  • Snapchat’s Best Friend Poses let Snapchat+ subscribers share Bitmoji poses best friends (above) ✨

  • Snapchat’s controversial ‘Solar System’ feature will now be off by default following bad press And parental concerns

  • Snapchat has a launched an AR ring try-on feature for for Cartier

  • Discord now lets you create polls with up to 10 different responses and set durations

  • BeReal Announces New 'RealEvents' Feature at Coachella

🔥 Want to see more hot NEW features spotted in the wild this week?
Just head to the ‘More news’ section below!



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

I explained to the i why TikTok is launching two new apps now…



Social media managers as a spectator sport:

Don’t give LinkedIn ideas… This would not end well for me:

After Billie Eilish added all her followers as close friends, IG posted this….



This X post by dbrand unsurprisingly massively backfired on them.

In what world would posting this ever be a good idea?!

Despite criticism from the likes of tech YouTube giant MKBHD….

…the company spent a day doubling down on the racism before apologising and giving the person they abused $10,000.

Edgy social marketing is a balancing act, and dbrand fell off the tightrope this week.



A total solar eclipse in the US led to plenty of memeage these week:

Meanwhile, a tiny earthquake in New York turned X into a self-mocking version of old-school ‘Earthquake Twitter’:



A game about going viral has gone viral:

‘Content Warning’ is a co-op horror game where you play an influencer trying to film monsters without getting killed, all so you can get views on social media.




Are Gen-Z influencers getting squeezed out by A.I. influencers. A.I. is even getting brand deals…


I’ve worked for UK Government leading on social media campaigns, including for Cabinet Office and 10 Downing St. And I know many of the people who have either worked on Conservative Party social activity, or still do, so I thought this was an interesting read.

There are a lot of truths in this article, but I think it also downplays the success of some of the tactics being used:



"I may have done more to financially impair the company than to help it”

– Elon Musk admitted that his endless posts aren’t helping X’s prospects for the future



😮 WTF?!

“AI 'influencers' on Instagram have racked up hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of views by stealing reels from real women to make the AI seem more ‘believable.’“




X must have thought it was clever automatically changing 'Twitter' to 'X' in URLs users posted. But it broke legit URLs.

The change meant if you put a URL such as setwitter. com in a post… It would automatically be changed to - a scammer’s dream.


  • Elon Musk had some embarrassing glitches on X Spaces this week

  • The UK’s Conservative Party deleted a social media post plugging Britain with a US jet, a Canadian car, and a defeated football team… which also breached Royal protocol



There’s a new Twitter alternative in town. Lyrak is keen to become a home of real-time news.



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




– Meta brought in almost 30% of its revenue from Instagram in early 2022

  • LinkedIn says if you leave a comment on someone’s post once a week, you can 3x your profile views

  • 21% of 18- to 24-year-olds start an online search with TikTok, while 5% start on YouTube

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth has exceeded Elon Musk’s for the first time since 2020

  • TikTok remains the number one favourite social media platform amongst US teens, but Instagram has now overtaken Snapchat for the number 2 position

  • ByteDance’s profit has jumped 60%, taking it past arch-rival Tencent



How Reels helped boost Instagram:



  • Meta has argued that the FTC’s lawsuit relating to Instagram and WhatsApp presents no evidence of antitrust behaviour. [Meta Newsroom]

  • Instagram ads in the UK promoting ‘butt lifts’ in Turkey as part of holidays are in potential breach of advertising rules. [The Guardian]

  • A fake MidJourney Page on Facebook promoted malware to 1.2 million people. [Bleeping Computer]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • 5 brands on Threads putting their own spin on the platform. [Sprout Soical]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook has added an 'Anniversary Follower' badge for pages. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Facebook Leads is now showing under the Professional dashboard. [@jonahmanzano]


  • Instagram is testing options to ‘follow, message, and share a user if you tap to enlarge their profile picture. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Instagram could soon let you use cutout stickers in chats. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram now lets you mention anyone (including multiple users) in video notes. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram has been spotted offering a ‘Save’ button on Reels. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram Reels now lets you duplicate Reels as drafts. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram and Threads have added new features for cricket fans. [Meta Newsroom]


  • The Threads public feed can now be accessed without an account. [@codeforreal]


  • WhatsApp could bring more thumbnail previews in chat. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is testing a new Android app design with far more white than green. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp could soon alert you when you’re mentioned in a status update. [Android Police]

  • WhatsApp is testing a new UI for chat content filters on iOS. [@oncescuradu]

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

  • Meta Quest 3 now has improved passthrough quality, external mic support and a lying down mode. [UploadVR]

  • Meta has launched a new information hub to help developers operate within the company’s rules. [Social Media Today]

  • Meta is testing an 'Instant Replay' feature in 'Horizon Worlds' to make social VR more viral. [Road to VR]

  • Meta Business Suite has updated its creation menu to support broadcast channels. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Meta is rolling out an actions column to Ads Manager. [Jon Loomer]



New features and tests:



  • Marketers seem unconvinced by a looming TikTok ban but have made contingency plans just in case. [Digiday $$$]

  • ByteDance is staying hands-off TikTok as the US ban, leaving the local team to become more aggressive. [South China Morning Post]

  • ByteDance misled the Central Bank of Ireland in early 2023, after HSBC shut down the company's bank accounts following a money laundering probe. [The Information $$$]

  • The UK government should use TikTok to combat misinformation and engage young people, a committee of MPs has said. [The Guardian]

  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz has joined TikTok with a promise ‘I will not dance’. [The Guardian]

  • Cannes Lions will run a Lions Creators event alongside its annual ad industry shindig. [AdWeek $$$]

  • TikTok staff in the US face big tax bills on shares they cannot sell. [Financial Times $$$]

  • ByteDance has extended its employee share buyback programme to non-US workers. [Financial Times $$$]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • How to start making money with the TikTok Creative Challenge for UGC. [Business Insider]

  • TikTok has published guide to making the most of its ‘Promote’ ad option. [Social Media Today]

  • TikTok has shared new research on the benefits of creating ads in multiple languages. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok has announced new brand safety controls and expanded ad verification partnerships. [Social Media Today]

  • TikTok has launched its ‘Election Hub’ in the EU. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok Live is now integrated with Streamlabs, no stream key needed. [Mashable]

  • TikTok has been spotted asking “Do you like the comments in this video?” [@oncescuradu]



  • US lawmakers have unveiled new bipartisan digital privacy bill after years of impasse. [The Verge]

  • Hootsuite is acquiring social listening app Talkwalker. []

  • Google has explained why it shows Reddit and forum threads in Search so often. [SEO Roundtable]

  • UK ministers are considering banning the sale of smartphones to under-16s. [The Guardian]

  • Snapchat’s set to announce new ad options at its IAB Newfronts event. [Social Media Today]

  • A startup called Rembrand is using A.I. to place products within YouTube and TikTok videos, creating a new type of ad for brands and creators. [Business Insider]

  • Reddit is soliciting user questions for its earnings call via a subreddit. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • LinkedIn has settled a legal battle over faulty ad metrics. [MediaPost]

  • Twitch’s CEO says DJs will have to share what they earn on the website with music labels. [Engadget]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

New features and tests:

  • YouTube Studio now lets you create product collections within the app. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Snapchat is testing a button for quick switching between camera lenses. [@theahmedghanem]

  • LinkedIn is rolling out support for Passkey logins on iOS. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Bluesky now supports hashtags in bios. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Signal now lets you choose from 11 different app icons. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Pinterest is testing new Wide and Compact view options in the latest iOS beta. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Pinterest’s creation menu now has a collage option. [@theahmedghanem]

  • CapCut has been spotted showing in-app ads for free users. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Flipboard is making 400 creators and 11,000 of their curated Magazines visible to people in the fediverse. [Flipboard]

  • Google is testing a ‘Short Videos’ tab in the Search menu bar. [SEO Roundtable]



“Why we don’t post anymore…”



Running a big social media company can buy you a LOT of land:

“Mark Zuckerberg owns over 1,200 acres of land. Here's a look at his properties across the US, from a Hawaiian doomsday bunker to Lake Tahoe estates.”



… And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about this week.

But before you go…

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Alrighty… I’m heading off to troll Elon Musk fanboys on X.

My regular Friday night treat.

Goodbye, geeks!

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

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