Category Archives: Social Media

Snapchat Introduces Spotlight



Snapchat has introduced Spotlight. It enables Snapchat users to create short videos that include music – much like TikTok does. Right now, Snapchat is holding a contest where people can submit their best video Snaps and potentially earn money.

Submit your best video Snaps to Spotlight for the opportunity to earn a share of more than $1 million that we’re distributing to creators every day! Or, lean back, watch, and pick your favorites!

Snapchat recommends that those who want the opportunity to earn money follow Spotlight’s content guidelines. Requirements include that your video must be vertical and with sound. You can only post your own content for the video, but may use music from Snapchat’s licensed library. You must be at least 16 years old to enter.

Spotlight is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and France. Snapchat says more countries are “coming soon”.

To me, it appears that Spotlight is Snapchat’s way of competing with TikTok for the attention of younger users. Those who already use TikTok could be enticed to give Snapchat’s Spotlight a try, in the hopes of winning some money for their efforts.

Now is a good time for this contest, as many young people are stuck at home due to remote learning and lockdown efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. It could encourage students to have some fun and to express themselves creatively.

According to TechCrunch, Snaps in Spotlight won’t disappear from being surfaced in the feed unless a creator chooses to delete them. In other words, the Snaps that are entered into the Spotlight contest could be viewed by users that are new to the creator. It might help new creators build an audience, which would not only benefit the creator, but also Snapchat itself.


How Twitter and Facebook Will Handle Trump’s Account After January 20



The New York Times reported some details about how Facebook and Twitter will handle President Trump’s accounts after he is no longer a world leader. Once again, it appears that the two social media companies have very different plans about how to respond to whatever Trump posts after his presidential term is over.

In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senators asked Facebook’s Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and Twitter’s Chief Executive, Jack Dorsey, questions about their platforms. It appears that the Republicans, and the Democrats, had differing ideas about the topics that were most important to ask questions about.

The New York Times Reported the following:

Jack Dorsey said, “If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away.” He was referring to Twitter’s current policy of adding a label to Trump’s tweets to indicate that the content of the tweet was disputed or glorified violence. Labeled Tweets cannot be liked or retweeted.

Most Twitter users have to abide by rules that forbid threats, harassment, impersonation, and copyright violations. If someone breaks one (or more) of these rules, they may be required to delete that tweet. Or, their account may be temporarily banned.

According to The New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg said at the hearing that Facebook would not change the way it moderates Trump’s posts after he leaves office. Facebook has labeled some of Trump’s posts in which he made claims that Facebook deemed to be false information. Facebook users could still like and share those posts.

This information is useful for people who currently use Facebook and/or Twitter, as it allows people to decide for themselves which policy they would prefer to see. Those who want to read Trump’s posts after he is no longer President might choose Facebook – who will label misleading posts and leave them up. Those who would prefer their Twitter feed not to be cluttered with reactions to Trump’s misleading Tweets, may stick with Twitter.


Some Conservatives are Leaving Twitter and Facebook for Parler



Are you unhappy with Twitter and/or Facebook? Do you consider yourself to be conservative? It might be time for you to stop using the big social media companies and switch over to one that appears to be very popular with people who are conservative. The New York Times reported that Parler was at the top of Apple’s App Store in downloads last weekend. It is a Twitter-like social media app that doesn’t seem to have as many rules as Twitter (or Facebook) do.

Despite the conservative ire, Facebook and Twitter have long taken a mostly hands-off approach to digital speech. In recent months, however, the companies ramped up their efforts to prevent election misinformation. Facebook and Twitter said they would label false posts and slow down how quickly they could be shared, among other moves. They said many of the changes would be temporary.

The main idea I got from reading The New York Times article is there are people who are angry with Twitter and Facebook. That, by itself, is not unusual.

This group, however, considers themselves to be conservative. A number of them seem to think that Twitter’s labeling of tweets that contain misinformation is equal to censorship. One could assume that this group is also displeased when Facebook removes groups that have broken their rules. Parler offers conservatives a social media app where nothing will be labeled or fact-checked.

Slate reported that there already are some well known conservatives who are on Parler (but have not entirely left Twitter or Facebook). This includes Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Eric Trump. Houston Chronicle reported that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Devin Nunes, and Tucker Carlson are on Parler.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Parler says that all are welcome. That could mean that it is not specifically intending to be a “bubble” for conservative-minded people. Personally, I don’t think it will interest very many people who do not happen to be conservative.


Snapchat will Stop Promoting Trump’s Account in Discover



Snapchat posted a long post titled: “We Stand Together”. It is well worth reading. It discusses racial inequality in the United States, why change hasn’t happened, and more. The part of the post that appears to be getting the most attention is the portion that mentions Snapchat’s decision to no longer promote President Trump’s account in its Discover tab.

…As for Snapchat, we simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform. Our Discover content platform is a curated platform, where we decide what we promote. We have spoken time and again about working hard to make a positive impact, and we will walk the talk with the content we promote on Snapchat. We may continue to allow divisive people to maintain an account on Snapchat, as long as the content that is published on Snapchat is consistent with our community guidelines, but we will not promote that account or content in any way…

The Verge received a statement from Snapchat that said: “We are not currently promoting the president’s content in Snapchat’s Discover platform. We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them a platform on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

To be clear, Snapchat has not taken President Trump’s account down. Snapchat users can still view the content on that account if they choose to do so. The only difference is that Trump’s content on Snapchat will no longer appear in the Discover tab.

The Guardian reported that Snapchat’s decision regarding Trump’s Snapchat account “will likely increase pressure on the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has come under intense criticism from civil rights leaders and Facebook employees over his decision to allow Trump’s threat that “when the looting starts the shooting starts” remain on the platform.”

Personally, I’m very confused about why the President of the United States, who is frequently on television, and written about in a wide variety of news outlets around the world, feels that he needs to be the focus of every social media platform as well. Neither Twitter nor Snapchat have removed his accounts. They simply are requiring him to adhere to the rules of their platforms.


Mark Zuckerberg Defended Leaving Up Trump’s Posts



Facebook and Twitter are very different social media platforms. Recently, the differences have become vividly clear, as we see how each platform chooses how they will respond to controversial content posted by President Trump.

The Verge obtained a recording of an extended conference with employees in which Mark Zuckerberg addressed accusations that Facebook allowed election misinformation and veiled promotions of violence from President Trump. According to The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg stood by what he described as a “pretty thorough” evaluation of Trump’s posts. Zuckerberg reportedly said that the choice to avoid labeling them or removing them was difficult but correct.

As you may have heard, Twitter added a fact-check to two of President Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots. Twitter also flagged another tweet made by President Trump because it violated Twitter’s rules about glorifying violence. It should be noted that all three of those tweets are still on Twitter. Those who want to read them can simply click a link to view them.

There has been some pushback. President Trump issued an executive order that some see as intended to curtail free speech on Twitter’s platform. Personally, I think that President Trump should have read Twitter’s policies about what is, and is not, allowed on their platform. If he had done that, and acted accordingly, there would be no need for that executive order.

The Guardian reported that Facebook staff held a virtual walkout to show their disagreement with Mark Zuckerberg’s decision regarding posts by President Trump. Some took to Twitter to express their displeasure. Facebook Software Engineer Timothy J. Aveni, resigned in response to Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up Trump’s post that called for violence. The Hill reported that Owen Anderson, another Facebook employee, announced his departure from the company on Twitter.

Overall, I think that people who are fans of President Trump are going to take his side of the situation no matter what. Those who dislike Facebook and/or Mark Zuckerberg’s decision making process, might choose to leave that platform. Those angry with Twitter may quit that platform. None of this is going to lead to healthier versions of either Facebook or Twitter, and I miss the days before the politicians invaded social media.


Put Your Face in a Video with Snapchat Cameo



Snapchat is slowly rolling out a new feature called Snapchat Cameo. It goes further than the Lenses that people can use on a selfie to make themselves look like an animal or to wear a flower crown. Cameo lets people put their selfie into a video that they can share with others.

TechCrunch reported that Snapchat Cameo is currently being tested by Snapchat users in France. Snap confirmed to TechCrunch that Cameo exists, and that they are currently testing it in limited availability in some international markets. It appears that Snap will make its global debut “soon”.

According to TechCrunch, a Snapchat users starts by selecting a vaguely male or female body shape. There is no androgynous option. The user can then select from a bunch of short, looping, videos from the ones Snapchat chose. The user adds their selfie to Cameo. TechCrunch wrote: Snapchat will then stretch and move your selfie to create different facial reactions that Cameo can apply to actors’ heads in the videos.

To me, it sounds like an amusing little feature that could be used to share an emotion that a person is feeling (or to make a friend laugh). Cameo can be personalized more than a Bitmoji or a GIF can.

On the other hand, it also feels a bit creepy. While I don’t think of Cameo as a deepfake, it kind of makes me uncomfortable because it alters reality in a way that might not be immediately recognizable to some. I also have concerns that because Cameo appears to be cute and fun, it could desensitize people to the dangers of malicious deepfakes.


Verizon Announced Sale of Tumblr to Automattic



Verizon Media and Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Automattic plans to acquire Tumblr.

The press release says that the terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, Axios reported that “a source familiar with the deal” put the price-tag “well below” $20 million, while another source put it below $10 million. Axios reported that Yahoo had paid $1.1 billion for Tumblr. Axios also reported that Automattic Inc. will buy the network and take on its 200 employees.

Tumblr is a media network powered by a massive community of independent creators and home to 475 million blogs.

“Tumblr is one of the Web’s most iconic brands,” said Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg. “It is an essential venue to share new ideas, cultures, and experiences, helping millions create and build communities around their shared interests. We are excited to add it to our lineup, which already includes WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, and more.”

I deleted my Tumblr account shortly after Verizon took over. My husband and I used to post photos of our cockatiels on a second Tumblr account, which we never got around to deleting. Personally, I feel that Automattic is going to do good things with Tumblr, and I definitely trust the company a whole lot more than I trust Verizon.

Will this change bring people back to Tumblr? It is too soon to know that for certain. Axios pointed out that The Wall Street Journal reported that Automattic’s CEO Matt Mullenweg intends to maintain the “porn ban” that Verizon implemented. The ban is one of the reasons why many people left Tumblr.