tiktok's american nightmare

...WTF happens next?

Hello, geeks

I hope your week has been less intense than TikTok’s CEO’s!

But before we get into it… This property for sale listing is going viral. Why? Watch this insane video tour of the home. 👏

Back to TikTok… Its CEO got torn apart during his U.S. Congress hearing this week. He kicked the week off trying to be ‘laid back dude in a hoodie’.

But it didn’t take long for Shou Zi Chew to bite back with this attack on Meta and its Cambridge Analytica scandal. Savage! More on that in a moment.

Over at Hellsite HQ, Elon Musk has been talking sh*t again. Literally. 💩 He also gave legacy verified accounts an ultimatum this week - Pay up, or I take your blue tick. Good luck with that, Elon.

And this tweet about a wild new Twitter feature is going viral as we speak.

So yeah… It’s been another wild week in social media land!


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Alrighty… Let's get going. First up, the HOTTEST headlines in social this week:


  1. TikTok’s CEO Grilled In U.S. Congress Hearing [BAN LOOMING]

  2. Twitter To Start Removing Legacy Blue Ticks on April Fools Day [REALLY, ELON?]

  3. TikTok’s New 'Synthetic Content’ Rules Bans Deepfakes [KEEP IT REAL]

  4. Twitter Users Report Disappearing Tweets + Long List of New Bugs [BUGGING OUT]

  5. Meta Verified Launched in the U.S. With One Key Feature Is Missing [TICKED OFF]

TikTok news generated the most headlines this week, but a LOT of other stuff went down. Here’s EVERYTHING else you'll want to know about:

Meta launched ‘Quests’ in Horizon Worlds. A new way to earn cash prizes in the metaverse… Instagram is rolling out Search ads (because there aren’t enough ads in IG already 🙄)... Instagram has been spotted testing more new features, including 1. Share counts on Reels, 2. Full length 60-second Reels in Stories, 3. Replace ‘no longer available’ audio in Reels, 4. Add a donate button to posts.

WhatsApp launched a new Windows client, with improved video call features… WhatsApp is also making it easier to manage Group chats… There’s now an official WhatsApp chat channel on WhatsApp (makes sense when you take a look)... And WhatsApp is working on a new video message feature.

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Elon Musk says Twitter will open source its algorithm next week (but Elon says a lot things)...Elon Musk also says priority ranking for Twitter Blue subscribers tweet replies is coming soon…Twitter is working on a ‘get notifications about a tweet’ option (not sure when I’d ever use this)... And Twitter’s Slack integration no longer works.

TikTok launched new Community Guidelines… LinkedIn added four useful new features for Company Pages… YouTube added podcast analytics and a new hashtag recommendations feature… YouTube also added new podcast support tools for creators

And finally…

YouTube restored the orange guy’s account following a two-year ban. His first posts on YouTube and Facebook since being reinstated were… predictable.


  • 🛠️ NEW TOOLS: 8 AI-Powered Copywriting Tools for Social Media Marketers [TAKE A LOOK]

  • 🤖 MORE TOOLS: 20 AI Tools For Content, Image, Sound, Video Creation [VIEW TOOLS]

  • 😍 EMOJIS: 31 New Emojis Coming Soon To Facebook [VIEW NEW EMOJIS]

  • 🚨 PRO TIPS: Meta’s New 48-Page Safety Guide For Journalists [FREE GUIDE]

Moving along… Let’s jump into Geekout analysis of the biggest stories of the week.

Starting with THAT TikTok CEO hearing. (keep scrolling 👇)

– Matt

🚨 Everyone's talking about...

The ‘does TikTok have a future in the US?’ debate kicked into an even high gear this week as the company’s CEO testified before Congress in Washington, DC.

If you missed the hearing yesterday, the Guardian has a roundup of the key takeaways. But essentially it was your typical congressional tech hearing: politicians asking a mixture of pointed and extremely dumb questions. Gizmodo has rounded up the craziest moments

But, despite a confident showing in his prepared remarks and a breezy video message to users–including the news that TikTok now has 150 million active users in the US–Shou Zi Chew didn’t come out of this unharmed.

He appeared evasive, unable to confirm if TikTok sells its data on users, for example. He appeared weak on protecting teens from over-using the app, and he was accused misrepresenting third-party research in his prepared remarks.

But despite Chew’s fair point that American companies don’t have a great track record with user data either, and a broader law protecting Americans from data misuse by all social platforms would be more effective, it’s clear there’s little support for TikTok on Capitol Hill.

TikTok’s response to the hearing was to accuse the politicians of grandstanding and xenophobia.

But the proposed ways of dealing with TikTok both seem difficult to pull off. China this week confirmed that it would block a forced sale of TikTok to a US company.

And a ban on the app would be tricky, especially in a country where speech free of government interference is held dear, and TikTok’s data-collection tentacles are hard to untangle.

It was reported this week that TikTok still has access to data about Indian users from before it was banned there three years ago. And 30 US state-government websites across 27 states were recently found to be displaying TikTok tracking pixels.

Meanwhile, TikTok is a major force in online advertising, and public opinion mixed about what should be done - if anything.

This latest episode in TikTok’s American drama could yet turn out to be a whole load of nothing.

We knew Twitter was planning on stripping ‘legacy blue checks’ of their badges some time in the future, but now the company has confirmed that the process will begin in just eight days’ time… on April Fools’ Day.

We say ‘confirmed’, but given recent history, who knows how they might mess it up or have to walk it back.

That said, the company is already pushing hard to get those of us with the old checkmark to switch over. And a bunch of news this week points to Twitter getting more serious about making a business out of its blue and gold checkmarks.

Twitter Blue is now available globally, and new accounts now have to wait only 30 days after signing up for their Twitter Blue checkmark.

Meanwhile, it appears Twitter is testing government ID-based verification, which would hopefully make verification more reliable. And Elon Musk claims preferential ranking for tweet replies from Twitter Blue subscribers will begin soon.

Meanwhile, Twitter is open for business charging businesses $1,000 per month for its Verified Organizations programme. A source tells me that existing gold checkmark verified accounts WON'T lose their badge if they don't pay the $1,000 a month fee.

But the most hilarious checkmark news this week was an apparent admission that Twitter Blue has a naff image among many Twitter users: Twitter is working on letting you hide your blue badge.

Excuse me while I stifle a laugh…

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you won’t have failed to notice just how fast A.I. is developing right now.

Each week brings new text, image, and audio tools that show just how much automated content creation is going transform the job of the social media manager.

TikTok revised its community guidelines this week, and expanded the section on A.I.-generated content, saying that all realistic, but fake, content should be clearly disclosed as such.

What’s more…

TikTok says it will not allow any synthetic media “that contains the likeness of any real private figure” or that shows a public figure endorsing a product or violating the app’s other policies (i.e., its prohibitions on hate speech).

The company defines public figures as anyone 18 years of age or older with “a significant public role, such as a government official, politician, business leader, or celebrity.”

– James Vincent, The Verge

A.I. generated is going to be great for social media managers in a few ways: automatically generated content can be a massive timesaver, act as inspiration when you’ve got no ideas, or be used in all sorts of fun, creative ways.

But it will also be a nightmare for social platforms looking to police inauthentic behaviour. Look out for more rules like these from other companies in the coming months.

😆 LOL tweets

…and oops… Adam saw this tweet 🙃


📈 Going viral

Twitter’s constant messing with metrics–most recently adding a bookmark counter–has got the meme juices flowing this week…

Digg has collected more of the bookmark snark here.

😮 WTF?!

A.I. ‘enhanced’ dating is going to be whole new minefield of pain: reminder: you actually have to meet the person you’re dating, and A.I. can’t help you then.


👀 Read of the week

“A detailed attempt to grade TikTok's overall transparency” from CrowdTangle co-founder Brandon Silverman.


🔨 New tools

As I mentioned above, A.I. is going to transform the work of social media managers. And here’s a concrete example: a set of powerful new A.I. tools from Canva.

“Most of these new features are designed to make creating content like social media graphics, presentations, and advertising materials more accessible to those without professional design experience. The idea is this would leave graphic designers free to tackle more pressing tasks.”


Meta has been nudging us all over to Business Suite from Creator Studio for a while. But if you’ve been holding out, you’ll soon have no choice…

🗣️ Industry chatter

Should a social media pro have to be ‘brave’ in their job? That’s the question many have been asking this week after Ticketmaster advertised for a brave social media director.

Given the anger fans of artists like Taylor Swift have directed at the company in recent months, bravery might be a good quality, but let’s face it, it shouldn’t have to be. Check the replies to me on LinkedIn for a flavour of the conversation.

Bravery in social media work can be a good thing, but for some this is a step too far.


🧵 Useful thread

Want to get up to speed about how Twitter’s gold checkmarks could work for your company? Tap through and let me break it down for you 👇

💡 New feature spotlight

I’m not sure who’s looking forward to this one, but fugly tweets appear to almost be upon us….

💬 You can quote me on that

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

I spoke to The Guardian about the monumental challenge that faced TikTok’s CEO this week:

📊 Stat of the week

We knew CapCut is popular… but not this popular:

Sadly unsurprising news:

📈 Charts of the week

What does the American public make of worries about TikTok? It’s a less clear picture than many politicians would make out…

Meanwhile, TikTok might have other worries:


🎧 Worth a listen

As I mentioned at the top of the newsletter, I spoke to Simon Owens about how I grew this newsletter into a successful business. You can find the podcast version here, if you prefer a listen:


  • And if you want more Geekout insights, I spoke to Lia Haberman about how I use broadcast channels to go direct to audience with my Geekout community on WhatsApp.

Meta News

  • Meta is shutting down Creator Studio on 12 April. [@MattNavarra]

  • People are trying to use Meta's leaked large language model to improve their Tinder matches. [Motherboard]

  • Meta has downplayed the metaverse as it lobbies against proposed network fees for platforms in Europe.[TechCrunch]

  • A Meta security exec was reportedly hacked by the Greek security services. [New York Times $$$]

  • Meta is notifying UK users about post-Brexit changes to the legal terms of their service, which are finally set to roll out. [@MattNavarra]

  • Mark Zuckerberg and Meta have been sued for allegedly failing to address sex trafficking and child exploitation. [Reuters $$$]

  • Meta's VR game publisher is now called 'Oculus Publishing'. [Engadget]

New features and tests:


  • Facebook now lets you create clips from Facebook Live Videos. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook has added a revamped “discover audio” section for Reels. [@oncescuradu]

  • Facebook now offers an “Add story” button in the “Create” section of profiles. [@oncescuradu]

  • 31 new emojis are coming soon to Facebook. [Emojipedia]


  • Instagram has started putting ads in search results, and has launched a feature that can remind you about an important date from an ad. [The Verge]

  • Instagram now lets you replace audio in Reels when the original track is no longer available. [@JackHorwood]

  • Instagram has started showing share counts for Reels. [@ec_wife]

  • Instagram is moving the share and copy links to a new place as part of some UI tweaks. [@ahmedghanem]

  • Instagram is testing the ability to share a full Reel video in A Story, up to 60 seconds long. [@hammodoh1]

  • Instagram has added a “Preview” mode for reels. [@oncescuradu]

  • Instagram could soon let you add a ‘Donate’ button to posts. [@alex193a]


  • WhatsApp has launched new admin and search features for groups and doubled the maximum group size to 1,024. [@WhatsApp]

  • WhatsApp has announced a new Windows app with support for encrypted video calls with up to eight people and audio calls with up to 32 people. [Meta Newsroom]

  • WhatsApp has started to roll out an official product news chat within its iOS and Android apps. [WABetaInfo]

  • WhatsApp is working on the ability to send video messages. [WABetaInfo]

VR, adtech, and more:

  • Horizon Worlds now has a ‘Quests’ feature with in-game missions and prizes. [The Verge]

Twitter News

  • Twitter says hate speech is lower on its platform than previously reported.. but its study takes a narrower view of what counts as hate speech. [@TwitterSafety]

  • Trust and safety concerns are still keeping advertisers away from Twiter. [Vox]

  • Scammers are stealing high-profile verified accounts but Twitter is silent on the topic. [Mashable]

  • Twitter has set up its press enquiries email address to auto-respond with a 💩 emoji. [Mashable]

  • Twitter’s tipping and coin features are disappearing from users’ accounts. [The Information $$$]

New features and tests:

  • Twitter has launched a new account to help you follow highly-rated Community Notes. [@HelpfulNotes]

  • Elon Musk claims Twitter will open-source all code used to recommend tweets on March 31st. [@MattNavarra]

  • Twitter is still working on text formatting for tweets. [@alex193a]

  • Twitter is exploring ways to enable more conversation-specific notifications. [@ehikian]

TikTok News

  • TikTok is now blocked in UK Parliament over security concerns. [Reuters $$$]

  • …but the UK Ministry of Defence will continue to use TikTok, via third-party tools. [@MattNavarra]

  • The BBC has urged staff to delete TikTok from company mobile phones. [The Guardian]

  • Dutch bureaucrats have been told to remove TikTok from work phones. [Reuters $$$]

  • TikTok creators are preparing themselves for a possible ban of the platform they make their living from. [Wall Street Journal $$$]

  • TikTok is trying to allay advertisers’ concerns in the face of a possible ban in the US. [The Information $$$]

  • ByteDance-owned CapCut has hit 200 million monthly active users. [TechNode]

  • TikTok has published its Developer Guidelines. [@MattNavarra]

  • A new TikTok college drinking trend called BORG has raised alarm in the US. [NBC News]

💥 More social media news and updates

  • Donald Trump has returned to YouTube and Facebook after both platforms reinstated him. [Mashable]

  • Social media content moderators are pushing for better working conditions. [Financial Times $$$]

  • YouTube has explained the thinking behind outline-style icon redesign. [9to5Google]

Insights to give you an edge at work:

New features and tests:

  • YouTube has added podcast analytics and a new hashtag recommendations feature. [Social Media Today]

  • LinkedIn now lets company pages schedule posts, run audio events, make automatic job postings, and more. [Social Media Today]

  • Snap is now offering its AR tools to enterprise customers. [TechCrunch]

  • Discord is adding themes, only for Nitro subscribers. [The Verge]

  • BeReal now lets you use your new BeReal photo as your profile picture. [@ahmedghanem]

📖 Weekend reading


😳 And finally...

Want to feel old? Hipstamatic first launched 14 years ago 😬

Now it’s back, as an ‘anti-Instagram’ social network with no ads, a chronological feed, and a 99 account follow limit.

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📅 Back next week...

… Welcome to the end of this week’s Geekout. 👋

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Time to go, folks! Have a great weekend!

Goodbye geeks

– Matt


This newsletter is edited by Martin SFP Bryant

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