Category Archives: Social Media

TikTok Raises Age Requirement For Going LIVE



TikTok is updating its livestream system to limit kids from going live and to allow streamers to only reach adults, The Verge reported. According to The Verge, TikTok currently has allowed those 16 and older to stream live. The company is changing that to 18 and older.

TikTok posted news titled: “Enhancing the LIVE community experience with new features, updates, and policies” (On October 17). It includes the following:

The foundation of TikTok is built on community trust and safety. To protect our users and creators and support their well-being, we constantly work to evolve the safeguards we put in place. Today, we’re making additional changes and improvements to help our community have the best experience possible when they use LIVE.

Currently, people must be 16 or over to host a LIVE. From November 23, the minimum age will increase from 16 to 18. As we consider the breadth of our global audience, we already take a graduated approach to the features that our community can access based on their age; younger teens need to be 16 or older to access Direct Messaging and 18 or older to send virtual gifts or access monetization features.

This news might be disappointing to TikTok users who are not yet 18-years-old. They will, eventually, gain access to the LIVE feature when they get older. Waiting two years (or more) for access might seem like a very long time, though.

There is another change TikTok is making that could perhaps have influenced why they are limiting LIVE to those who are 18 or older. From TikTok’s news:

In addition, in the coming weeks, we plan to introduce a new way for creators to choose if they’d prefer to only reach an adult audience in their LIVE. For instance, perhaps a comedy routine is better suited for people over age 18. Or, a host may plan to talk about a difficult live experience and they would feel more comfortable knowing the conversation is limited to adults. We want our community to make the most of the opportunities LIVE can bring without compromising safety. We believe these industry-leading updates can further protect the younger members of our community as they start and build their online presence.

To be clear, it does not sound as though TikTok is expecting people to turn their LIVE into something like OnlyFans. I suspect some people might attempt to do that, though. As such, it makes a lot of sense for TikTok to prevent people under the age of 18 from accessing LIVE, while also giving the adults on TikTok a way to weed out those who are underage from watching their LIVE.


Kanye West To Acquire Parler Platform



A press release on prnewswire titled: “Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, to acquire Parler Platform”, was posted on today. If you’ve been following the news, it should come as no surprise that Ye decided to buy a social media company.

From the press release:

Parlement Technologies announced today that it has entered into an agreement in principle to sell Parler, the world’s pioneering uncancelable free speech platform to Ye (formerly known as Kanye West). Ye has become the richest Black man in history through music and apparel and is taking a bold stance against his recent censorship from Big Tech, using his far-reaching talents to further lead the fight to create a truly non-cancelable environment.

“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” says Ye.

The proposed acquisition will assure Parler a future role in creating an uncancelable ecosystem where all voices are welcome…

The press release posted a link to where Ye can be found on Parler. I clicked on that link, and my Safari browser said it could not open the page “because the page’s address isn’t valid.” Either Safari doesn’t recognize the Parler website, or the link attached to where you can find Ye on Parler is incorrect or broken.

The press release also says: Under the terms of their agreement in principle, the parties intend to enter into a definitive purchase agreement and expect to close during the fourth quarter of 2022. The terms of the proposed transaction would include ongoing technical support from Parliament and the use of private cloud services via Parliament’s private cloud and data center infrastructure.

Why would Ye want to buy a social media company?

Last week, Kanye West (aka Ye) was locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts following a weekend of antisemitic posts. Now, the saga has taken a sharp turn with news that the hip-hop mogul is acquiring the controversial “free speech” social media app Parler, Engadget reported.

According to Engadget, the deal appears to be happening quickly, with the company behind Parler (Parliament technologies) saying that the parties expect to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2022. The acquisition price was not revealed.

Engadget also reported: Shortly after his return to Twitter, West posted an antisemitic message, which was eventually pulled by Twitter. “The account in question has been locked due to a violation of Twitter’s policies,” a spokesperson said at the time. The rapper also shared a screenshot on Instagram with another antisemitic message, and was similarly restricted by that site.

Several sites reporting on the press release have noted that the situation is developing.

I suppose that a person, who has tons of money, and who has been kicked out of two large social media websites, would become very interested in finding one that would accept him. I suppose one way to assure you won’t be removed from that social media site is to buy it.


Texas’ Social Media Law Blocked By 5th Circuit Court



A federal appellate court temporarily halted Texas’ social media law from going into effect Wednesday, while tech trade groups seek review from the Supreme Court – the latest twist in months of legal maneuvers over a statute that could upend the online industry’s business models, Politico reported.

According to Politico, the ruling by the 5th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals gives a brief reprieve to tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube as they seek a Supreme Court decision against H.B. 20, a Texas law that forbids large platforms from “censoring” viewpoints.

The decision marks a small win for tech trade groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Those groups had sued Texas’ attorney general, contending that the law would infringe on their member companies’ First Amendment protections by forcing them to carry content that violates their own rules.

Politico also wrote that NetChoice and CCIA had requested in a September 29 motion that the 5th Circuit press pause on H.B. 20 while they ask the Supreme Court to take up the underlying case. The trade groups – which represent Facebook, Twitter and Google – are appealing Sept. 16 ruling from the 5th Circuit that upheld the Texas law.

NetChoice wrote the following:

Today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals approved NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Associations (CCIA)’s unopposed motion to stay Texas HB 20 pending a ruling on a future petition of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court in our case, NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton.

Now granted, HB 20 will stay enjoined until the case proceeds through the courts.

“Because Texas HB 20 would bury the internet in vile content, we’re relieved that it will remain enjoined until the case can be heard by the Supreme Court,” said Chris Marchese, NetChoice Counsel. “We remain confident that the law will ultimately be struck down as unconstitutional.”…

The Hill reported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) touted the law during its signing last year as a way to push back on censorship and social media companies’ attempts to “silence conservative viewpoints”.

The law, H.B. 20, forbids social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users from banning Texas-based users over their political views. Opponents argue that the way the law is crafted could keep companies from being able to remove dangerous posts, such as pro-terrorist content, animal abuse, pornography and hate speech.

Personally, I don’t have much hope that the Supreme Court will do the right thing regarding Texas’ H.B. 20, (given their recent decisions on other important cases). If the Texas’ law prevails, it could make social media even more hostile than it currently is. That could result in people fleeing the big social media sites for smaller, better moderated, nicer ones.


Parler Pivots To “Uncancelable” Cloud Services



On Friday, Parler announced that it was entering the internet infrastructure industry in order to provide new “uncancelable” cloud services for online business, The Verge reported.

According to The Verge, in a Friday press release, Parler announced it was restructuring; the new venture, called Parliament Technologies, will provide new internet infrastructure services for businesses it says are at risk of being forced off the internet. With $16 million in new Series B funding, the company purchased Dynascale, a California-based cloud services company that touts more than $30 million in annual revenue and 50,000 square feet of data space.

“We are entering a new era as Parliament Technologies, one that goes far beyond the boundaries of a free speech social media platform,” said Parliament Technologies CEO George Farmer. “We believe that Parliament Technologies will power the future. And the future is uncancelable.”

To me, the word “uncancelable” is one that is typically used by people who tend to put a lot of hashtags in their Twitter bio that signify that they are fans of the former President Donald Trump. Once in a while, a famous (or formerly famous) celebrity complains about being “canceled”. As such, it appears that Dynascale and Parliament Technologies are aiming to attract that specific group of people.

The Verge also reported that Parler had more than 4 million people signed up for the app during the 2022 presidential election, but the company struggled to maintain those numbers. Sensor Tower app data shows that the app had fewer than 7,000 downloads last month.

TechCrunch reported that Parler topped App Store charts in early January 2021 after Twitter and Facebook banned President Trump for inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol. But that success was short lived – Apple and Google removed the app from their respective software stores after drawing a line between Parler and the January 6 violence. Amazon also pulled its web hosting, a trifecta of consequences that clearly made an impact on the company, even after it returned to tech giants’ good graces.

According to TechCrunch, Apple reinstated Parler in April 2021 after the app promised to moderate additional content on iOS, bringing it into compliance with the company’s standards. Google only allowed the app back into the Play Store earlier this month, indicating that Parler adjusted the Android app to meet the company’s requirements for “robust” moderation.

Gizmodo reported that Parler also announced that it received $16 million in Series B funding, and has accrued $56 million in funds to date. Which is what enabled Parler to purchase Dynascale, and its 50,000 square feet of server space.

Gizmodo also pointed out that other far-right, often hate and conspiracy-filled websites tend to get booted from mainstream hosting, only to reemerge elsewhere. According to Gizmodo, Kiwi Farms, an offshoot of 4chan and hate speech hotbed, was pushed from a series of web hosts to its new home with VanwaTech. The neo-Nazi site, Daily Stormer, was kicked off of GoDaddy and Google after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017. And conspiracy theorist Alex Jones had his content banned from multiple large platforms.

All of this points to the obvious conclusion that nothing is truly “uncancelable”. Parliament Technologies obtained a lot of money to buy Dynascale. Perhaps the social media site thinks it is protected because it bought its own internet infrastructure service. That could, potentially, keep the site online. But, it won’t matter if Parler is unable to attract a large enough amount of users to compete with the other alternatives to Twitter. It could still crash and burn.


Snap Introduces Fresh Features For Fall



Snapchat introduced new features to help keep conversations with friends fresh, fast, and easy to find! Here is what to expect:

Snap’s new Lock Screen Widgets, available now with iOS 16, keeps conversations with your bestie saved right to your lock screen so you can start chats with one tap. With this new tool, you can save yourself the scrolling when you want to start Snapping, keeping visual conversations with the Snapchat camera right at your fingertips.

Widgets aren’t the only thing customizing your screen this Fall: New Chat Shortcuts at the top of our chat tab will make it easy to do things like spot unread Snaps and Chats from friends, see missed calls, and reply to stories. Our Shortcuts will also remind you if you owe a reply and show you when birthdays are coming up, so you never miss someone’s special day or leave a friend on read.

We are also introducing new tools like Question Stickers so you can AMA-all-day from your Snapchat Story, plus (and just in time for back to school) we’re making Snapchat for Web available to all! Head to https://web.snapchat.com to keep conversations with friends going from any device.

These new features are available now, or coming soon so keep an eye out and your app up to date.

Engadget reported that Snapchat for Web is finally available for all the messaging app’s users worldwide. It could be the better choice for users who have a lot of typing to do and messages to send, since they’ll be looking at a bigger screen and have access to a real keyboard.

According to Engadget, the web interface is pretty basic, but it can also be used to send photos and to make audio and video calls. A company spokesperson previously told Engadget that video calling has become more popular among its users recently. Giving users access to the feature on the web could lead to longer video calls. The spokesperson also told that Snap could bring more of its core features to the web interface if there’s enough demand for them.

Social Media Today reported that initially, only Snapchat+ users could use the web version, which enables users to send messages, conduct video chats and voice calls – basically all the central connection elements of the app will now be available via your desktop PC.

Snapchat for Web also enables you to use Snap Lenses for video calls.

According to Social Media Today, the expanded availability will make it easier for people to keep in touch with their friends via Snap, in more ways, which could be particularly beneficial for the increasing cohort of people that are working from home. Which, as its audience gets older, is becoming a bigger consideration for Snap, and the expanded web version is, in some ways, an acknowledgement of this, as it looks to align with audience shifts.

Unfortunately, Snapchat for Web is incompatible with Safari. Mac users will have to use Firefox or Google Chrome to access that feature.


California Governor Signs Bill Protecting Children’s Online Data And Privacy



California Governor Newsom announced that he has signed bipartisan landmark legislation aimed at protecting the wellbeing, data, and privacy of children using online platforms.

AB 2273 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), establishes the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which requires online platforms to consider the best interest of child users and to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.

AB 2273 prohibits companies that provide online services, products or features likely to be accessed by children from using a child’s personal information; collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation; profiling a child by default; and leading or encouraging children to provide personal information.

The bill also requires privacy information, terms of service, policies, and community standards be easily accessible and upheld – and requires responsive tools to help children exercise their privacy rights. This bipartisan legislation strikes a balance that protects kids, and ensure that technology companies will have clear rules of the road that will allow them to continue to innovate.

The Children’s Data Protection Working Group will be established as part of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act to deliver a report to the Legislature, by January 2024, on the best practices for implementation.

AB 2273 requires businesses with an online presence to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment before offering new online services, products, or features likely to be accessed by children.

Provided to the California Attorney General, the Data Protection Impact Assessments must identify the purpose of the online service, product, or feature, how it uses children’s personal information, and the risks of material detriment to children that arise from the data management practices.


The New York Times reported that despite opposition from the tech industry, the State Legislature unanimously approved the bill at the end of August. It is the first state statute in the nation requiring online services likely to be used by youngsters to install wide-ranging safeguards for users under 18.

According to The New York Times, the measure will require sites and apps to curb the risks that certain popular features – like allowing strangers to message one another – may pose to younger users. It will also require online services to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for children.

The New York Times also reported that the California measure could apply to a wide range of popular digital products that people under 18 are likely to use: social networks, game platforms, connected toys, voice assistants and digital learning tools for schools. It could also affect children far beyond the state, prompting some services to introduce changes nationwide, rather than treat minors in California differently.

Personally, I think that California’s AB 2273 is a great idea! I believe that every parent wants to make sure that their children will be safe when engaging in online video games, social networks, and other things that kids tend to like. It will be even better when these protections are established nationwide, to provide protection for all children in the United States.


Governor Newsom Signs Social Media Transparency Measure



California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he has signed a first-of-its kind social media transparency measure to protect Californians from hate and disinformation spread online. Bill 587 was proposed by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – Encino) and is called “Social media companies: terms of service”. The law requires social media companies to report data on their enforcement of the policies.

Obviously, this bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Newsom, provides protection to people who live in California. It does not to cover people who do not live in California.

This is, in some ways, similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which became law in 2018. It gave Californians the right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared; the right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions); the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information; and the right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights.

“California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” said Governor Newsom. “Californians deserve to know how these platforms are impacting our public discourse, and this brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the policies that shape the social media content we consume every day. I thank Assemblymember Gabriel for championing this important measure to protect Californias from hate, harassment and lies spread online.”

The Verge reported that Governor Newsom signed a law aimed at making web platforms monitor hate speech, extremism, harassment, and other objectionable behaviors. The Governor signed it after it passed the state legislature last month, despite concerns that the bill might violate First Amendment speech protections.

According to The Verge, AB 587 requires social media companies to post their terms of service online, as well as submit a twice-yearly report to the California Attorney General. The report must include details about whether the platform defines and moderates several categories of content including “hate speech or racism,” “extremism or radicalization,” “disinformation or misinformation,” “harassment,” and “foreign political interference.”

The law also requires social media companies to offer details about automated content moderation, how many times people viewed content that was flagged for removal and how the content was handled. AB 587 fits well with AB 2273, which is intended to tighten regulations for children’s social media use.

Personally, I think that AB 587 is a great idea. It might be exactly the push that social media companies need in order for them to actually remove hate speech, racism, extremism, misinformation, and everything else the bill requires. It would be great if social media companies removed the accounts of people who are posting threats of violence and/or engaging in harassment on their platform.

I remember when Twitter was brand new, and we all had less characters to use to say something. Back then, it was easy to find like-minded people who were also on Twitter. (For me, it was mostly fellow podcasters). I’d love to see Twitter go back to the good old days.