Sh*t just got serious for TikTok

...but everyone's just laughing at Kate

Hello, geeks!

Well, well… What a week it has been.

Photoshop fails. TikTok ban drama. Rumours of a new Instagram rival.

And my most insightful analysis in Vogue magazine. 😬

We we’ll be digging in to all of it, and more, in a moment.

But first… Which well-known social media app is struggling to add users and running out of money? Answer here. 😮

Back to the Twitter party drunken leak drama…

In last week’s Geekout, I shared the true story about the time I leaked information about the Twitter edit button, while inside a private invite-only Twitter party at SXSW. (Refresh your memory by reading the story here).

Here’s what happened next…

So… Where were we? Twitter’s head of comms had called me asking if at the Twitter party leaking inside information about the edit button. I sheepishly said “maybe?” She suggested I walk over to the bar where she would like to meet me and chat.

Badly taken photo of #TwitterHouse party at SXSW

I casually (well, nervously) stumbled through the party to find her. She clocked me and waved. She asked “enjoying the party?” The small talk didn’t last long. She got straight to the point, asking who was giving me the information I was leaking. I didn’t reveal who it was.

I asked if what I had leaked was legit. She confirmed it was. She didn’t seem angry, but did look concerned. She proposed a deal. If I agreed to not leak any further information, she would make sure I was given sight of new screenshots and details about the edit button in advance of Twitter sharing it with the other news publishers.

It took me all of 3 seconds to agree to the deal. Unknown to Twitter’s head of comms was the fact I had already shared everything I knew. I was no longer a threat. I of course chose to withhold that information and bluff that I may know a lot more.

Thankfully, this incident didn’t impact my relationship with Twitter. They were true to their word and sent me new details about the edit button months later.

BUT… Little did we know that less than a year after this incident, I would end up creating a new nightmare for Twitter that would make headlines…

I will reveal what REALLY happened, which didn’t get reported, in next week’s Geekout. It’s wild. 😱

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Geekout’s pick of the hottest headlines this week:

  1. U.S House Passed Bill That Could Ban TikTok Nationwide [ESCALATING]

  2. British Monarchy Rocked By Photo Editing Fail That Went Viral [PHOTOSHOPPING]

  3. X Removed Graphic Video Owner Elon Musk Shared Due To Rules Violation [ELON-MUSKING]

  4. Meta Sets A Date For Finally Killing Off It CrowdTangle Data Tool [DEPRECATING]

  5. TikTok Is Working On A New Instagram-Like Photo Sharing App [APP-CLONING]


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Is this a TikTok countdown to doom?

A ban on TikTok took an ominous step forward this week as the latest proposed bill was passed by Congress.

But hold up: let’s make clear what we’re talking about here. This isn’t technically a ‘TikTok ban’. It’s more a bill that would force ByteDance to sell the app if it is to continue to operate in the US.

But with China expected to block a sale, it’s effectively a ban.

Needless to say, the last few days have been packed with activity. TikTok users have been speaking up to help defend the app’s future in the USA, including creators going to Washington, DC. And there’s been a lobbying frenzy on both sides of the argument.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s CEO published a response to the news in the app itself.

TikTok can be as feisty as it likes but with headlines like ‘China used TikTok to influence US elections, top intel agency says’, while ByteDance doubles down on its China ties, the ball is very much not in its court.

It doesn’t help that some twenty-somethings are quitting the app, while some big names on the platform are considering their options. The D’Amelio’s family is partnering with Shopify to launch its shoe brand in pop-up stores, for example.

On TikTok’s side, its contribution to the economy is huge, a new report asserts. And marketers aren’t being put off by fresh talk of a ban. There’s very much a ‘let’s see’ attitude from many. Let’s face it, smart marketers are already active on rival platforms like Reels as a backup plan.

The reality is though, that even if Senate rushed through a vote (it seems they’re not in a hurry) and Joe Biden quickly signed the bill into law, TikTok wouldn’t disappear from the US immediately. ByteDance would have six months to find a buyer, and it would no doubt put up a legal fight first.

Who might buy the app? The number of companies that would want it and have the cash buy it and and technical infrastructure to run it isn’t exactly big.

ByteDance’s US investors are weighing their options. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is putting together an investor group to try to buy TikTok. Rumble has shown an interest, as has former Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick. But it’s easy to say you want to buy something.

One thing the Senate should keep in mind as they move towards a vote: they might have trouble engaging young voters without TikTok. While others can replicate its features, TikTok’s culture is one-of-a-kind.


Meta gets data research in a (Crowd)tangle

We knew Meta had CrowdTangle on the chopping block, but now it’s set the date. On 14 August, you can say goodbye to an app that has been a faithful friend to social media pros, journalists, and researchers for years.

Meta is proudly trumpeting its replacement, an app called Meta Content Library, which promises to offer more features, and support for content like Reels.

That’s great, but it’ll only be available to academic and non-profit researchers. Meta was clearly tired of ‘look at this trash that’s popular on Facebook!’ articles from journalists. Meta always insisted these were misleading, and additional data in Content Library should help paint a clearer picture…

…eventually. Academic research is very slow by design. But shouldn’t we also understand what’s big on Meta’s platforms quickly? Especially in a big election year?

Here’s hoping journalists can partner with academics to offer some quick-turnaround insight into how political messages are resonating in what could be a critical year for American democracy.



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

Meta / Facebook


WhatsApp / Threads

Twitter (‘X’)

YouTube / Snapchat


  • TikTok has launched super-useful Search Insights tool to help creators make more money (above) 🔎

  • TikTok is also working on ‘Mute account’ feature

  • TikTok now lets you see who viewed your Story and ‘Like’ someone else’s Story post

  • TikTok is expanding its Effect Creator Rewards monetisation program to more regions and lowering its payout threshold

Pinterest / Reddit / LinkedIn More…



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

As the US TikTok ban advances, what does it mean for brands? I gave my thoughts to Vogue Business:





Kate Middleton’s amateur PhotoShop efforts were just MADE for memes.

Here’s just a few of the 100’s that made me laugh this week…


While many ‘dangerous’ social trends are just media exaggerations, this one sadly led to the death of and 11-year-old boy.



“Under Armour's ‘first AI-powered commercial’ is reportedly garnering criticisms from various creatives on Instagram after the commercial is claimed to be a blatant remix of past uncredited works.”



Friend of Geekout, Sophia Smith Galer explores what TikTok is doing to out language:

“It turns out there may be a ‘TikTok voice’. It apparently includes ‘uptalk’ – a rising intonation on declarative sentences – and ‘vocal fry’: a soft creak as you speak.”




“If you post frequently your follower count, on average, declines in the short term but grows faster in the long run”

– Instagram and Threads boss Adam Mosseri thinks you shouldn’t worry about posting too much. But then he would say that, wouldn’t he?


😮 WTF?!

“Extreme Dishwasher Loading encourages members to ‘think quality, not quantity’ when inviting new people to the 29,000-strong group. Also: Don't talk about washing machines.”



You’ve certainly failed if you’ve clicked one of these links. One rule to live by on the internet: if it pops up in a feed promising free p**n, it’s dodgy:



Reddit’s upcoming IPO seems to have lit a fire under the whole company.

One of many new initiatives at the company it’s now rolling out a suite of organic social strategy tools called ‘Reddit Pro’. Well worth a look if you engage with audience there in your work.




Learn from the be(a)st:




Social media features heading for the graveyard:

“In 2020, Google introduced an Area 120 project called Keen that was a take on Pinterest but with ML recommendations. It's now shutting down.”




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



900 million

- Telegram’s user count, as boss Pavel Durov says the messaging app is nearing profitability and makes “hundreds of millions of dollars” from its ads business



In Q4 2023, 20 year old Facebook grew faster than TikTok

Many young users have signed on to the short-form video app since its launch in 2016. Those core users are entering their 20s now and getting busy with other obligations.



  • The FTC can reopen its Meta privacy case despite a $5 billion fine, court rules. [Reuters $$$]

  • Publishers say the Facebook News tab disappearing will have little impact on their social strategy. [Digiday $$$]

  • Illinois might be the next place to lose news in Meta apps, as a proposed law wants the company to pay for news content. [Android Police]

  • Meta has sued a former employee over alleged stolen documents. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • One big reason Gen Z is still on Facebook? Marketplace. [New York Times $$$]

New features and tests:


  • Instagram users can now share a comment to their story from regular posts as well. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram video notes now let you flip the camera front or back. [@jonahmanzano]

  • Instagram could soon offer a redesigned chat theme picker. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is still working on the ability to rename Reel drafts. [@alex193a]

  • Instagram is testing a new button for Reels which lets a user quickly add pictures. [@oncescuradu]


  • Fediverse icons have been spotted in the Threads app on iOS. [@datadrivenmd]


  • WhatsApp is working on a privacy feature to let you decide who can use your avatar in their stickers. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is working on bringing a feature to let you mention contacts in status updates. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp has started clearly showing if your chats are encrypted. [Android Central]



Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • TikTok has shared insights into how to reach women with your brand messaging. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • TikTok is testing a new “Caption” button in a post’s main menu. [@oncescuradu]

  • TikTok has announced a new integration for Apple’s SKAdNetwork campaign tracking process. [Social Media Today]



  • Reddit’s IPO is scheduled for 21 March, looking to raise $748m. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Two US House Democrats are probing whether terrorist organisations and sanctioned individuals are using and even monetising their paid premium-service accounts on X. [Bloomberg $$$]

  • Bluesky is funding developer projects to give its platform a boost. [TechCrunch]

  • Some advertisers are doubling their Amazon spends at the expense of Meta and Google. [Business Insider]

  • CapCut is looking for e-commerce entrepreneurs and professionals to join the beta of CapCut Commerce Pro, a new content production platform. [@lindseygamble_]

  • Vulnerable teens are being blackmailed into degrading and violent acts by abusers who then boast about it. [Washington Post $$$]

  • YouTube has expanded Premium to 10 more countries. [Android Police]

  • EU regulators are taking on LinkedIn over its use of sensitive user data for targeted ads. [TechCrunch]

  • Trump campaign ads have been monetising pro-Nazi content on Rumble. [Rolling Stone]

  • Refund fraud schemes promoted on TikTok and Telegram are costing Amazon and other retailers billions of dollars. [CNBC]

  • UK Spy Agency GCHQ has officially (rather than unofficially 😉) joined LinkedIn. [Sky News]

  • Advertisers don't see new, immediate value in Snapchat's ad offerings despite its brand marketing campaign. [Digiday $$$]

  • Your kid might already be watching A.I.-generated videos on YouTube. [Wired $$$]

  • Violent online content is ‘unavoidable’ for UK children, regulator Ofcom has found. [The Guardian]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

  • How to optimise content for, and track, dark social. [SmartBrief]

  • Pinterest has shared new tips on how marketers can maximise inclusion in their messaging. [Social Media Today]

New features and tests:

  • LinkedIn is moving the 'Custom Button' on Company Pages to the overflow section of the Page starting 12 March. [@MattNavarra]

  • Snapchat now displays recent snaps inside chats. [@theahmedghanem]

  • Block Party has launched Privacy Party is designed to help people more easily navigate and adjust their privacy settings across social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, X, and others. [TechCrunch]

  • Google might show your social media posts in Search (via Google Business Profiles). [SEO Roundtable]

  • Google Maps has started showing social media profiles from bars and restaurants. [Android Police]



“The backlash to TikTokkers on the red carpet spotlights a much bigger media crisis.”



Why not end your week with a roundup of the best memes…? Go on, treat yourself…



Right you lovely lot… You’ve reached the end of this week’s Geekout. 👊

 Don’t miss out… The Geekout 50% off ad deal. I still have a couple of slots left for April. Just hit reply to this email to grab them before they’re gone.

 A quick reminder… I am doing an unintentional mini-tour of Europe, starting in April.

I will be speaking at a bunch of top conferences in Belgium, Venice, Bolonga, Hamburg, Lisbon, and London.

If you’re near any of these cities, drop me a reply and lets see if we can meet up!

Time to get the hell outta here. I need to go level-up my Photoshop skills and drop Kate a call to offer my services.

Goodbye geeks!

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

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