The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has sued Facebook. The FTC alleges that Facebook is illegally maintaining its personal social network monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct. The lawsuit comes after a lengthy investigation in cooperation with a coalition of attorneys general of 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could, among other things: require divestitures of assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp; prohibit Facebook from imposing anticompetitive conditions on software developers; and require Facebook to seek prior notice and approval for future mergers and acquisitions.
A separate lawsuit is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who stated that: “The lawsuit alleges that, over the last decade, the social networking giant illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut services to smaller threats – depriving users from the benefits of competition and reducing privacy protections and services along the way – all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue.”
The Verge reported that this lawsuit centers on Facebook’s acquisitions, particularly its $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2011. In addition to its acquisition strategy, the attorneys general allege that Facebook used the power and reach of its platform to stifle user growth for competing services. The Verge also reported that the FTC case cites Facebook’s decision to block Vine’s friend-finding feature after the Twitter acquisition as a particularly flagrant instance of this behavior.
To me, it seems like Facebook could potentially face some legal consequences as a result of one – or both – of these lawsuits. It will be interesting to see what would happen if Facebook is required to seperate itself from Instagram and WhatsApp. If Facebook is required to improve user privacy, I think many people would want to know the specific details about how it will do that.
Facebook has acquired GIPHY to be part of the Instagram team. GIPHY was created in 2013 with the goal of making communication more fun. GIPHY announced that it will be joining the team at Instagram. This makes sense, considering that GIPHY’s stickers had already been added to Instagram stories, and their GIF search is accessible in Instagram direct messages.
Facebook announced that GIPHY is joining the Facebook company today. Facebook plans to further integrate GIPHY’s GIF library into Instagram and other apps. Facebook has used GIPHY’s API for years in Instagram, the Facebook app, Messenger and WhatsApp.
A lot of people in our community already know and love GIPHY. In fact, 50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct. Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world.
Facebook says GIPHY will continue to operate its library, including global content collection. Facebook will invest further in GIPHY’s technology and relationships with content and API partners. People will still be able to upload GIFs. Developers and API partners will continue to have access to GIPHY’s APIs, and GIPHY’s creative community will still be able to create great content.
Those who already use Facebook or Instagram may have made use of some of GIPHY’s stickers or GIFs. It seems likely that some of GIPHY’s users went to the GIPHY website to search for GIFs to put on other social media sites.
I’m not sure how users who aren’t fans of Facebook or Instagram will take the news that Facebook acquired GIPHY. The website doesn’t make it clear that it has been acquired by Facebook, and GIPHY’s announcement was posted on Medium. It’s hard to say how much data Facebook and Instagram were gleaning from GIPHY previous to this acquisition, and that thought could make some people stop using GIPHY.
TechCrunch reported that Instagram confirmed that it has internally prototyped an Instagram Partner Program that would let creators earn money by showing advertisements along with their videos. The goals seems to be to entice creators to put their videos on IGTV in the hopes of being able to earn money. It sounds like Instagram is hoping the potential for earning money might influence creators to bring more and higher quality content to Instagram.
The program could potentially work similarly to Facebook Watch, where video producers earn a 55% cut of revenue from “Ad Breaks” inserted into the middle of their content. There’s no word on what the revenue split would be for IGTV, but since Facebook tends to run all its ads across all its apps via the same buying interfaces, it might stick with the 55% approach that lets it say creators get the majority of cash earned.
I think the addition of ads, inserted into the middle of video content, could kill this project. The Coalition for Better Ads recently announced a Better Ads Standard for short-form video for desktop, mobile web, and in-app environments. The goal is to improve the online ad experience for consumers. This standard will apply to ads that appear in short-form video content that is defined as 8 minutes or less.
Three ad experiences fall beneath the Better Ads Standard for short-form video:
- mid-roll ads
- pre-roll ads or pods longer than 31 seconds that cannot be skipped in the first 5 seconds
- non-linear display ads that are in the middle 1/3 of a playing video or are larger than 20% of the video content
The Coalition’s Better Ads Standards identify the ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability and are most likely to drive consumers to install ad blockers. From this, is sounds to me like sticking an ad in the middle of a short video on IGTV will not be acceptable to most people. This could make them avoid watching videos on IGTV.
It should be noted that TechCrunch referred to this new IGTV program as something that Instagram internally prototyped. It doesn’t mean Instagram is absolutely going to release an Instagram Partner Program anytime soon.
Instagram is trying to step up its efforts to combat misinformation on the platform. Its newest plan is what I consider to be a good start, but still needs improvement. The plan builds upon an existing third-party fact-checker program that began in May of 2019. Instagram is now expanding their fact-checking program globally to allow fact-checking organizations around the world to assess and rate misinformation on Instagram.
When content has been rated as false or partly false by a third-party fact-checker, we reduce its distribution by removing it from Explore and hashtag pages. In addition, it will be labeled so people can better decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share. When these labels are applied, they will appear to everyone around the world viewing that content – in feed, profile, stories, and direct messages.
Instagram is also applying image matching technology to find additional instances of the same content so the label can be applied to it. One interesting thing about this new change is that content that has been rated false or partly false on Facebook, and that also appears on Instagram, will automatically be labeled.
This is a good start towards reducing the spread – and negative repercussions – of misinformation. But, I think Instagram (and Facebook) should go further.
It would be more effective if Instagram/Facebook removed the misinformation entirely. Allowing it to spread, to people who are inclined to think the warning labels are wrong, is a terrible idea. Doing so could persuade people to hold on even tighter to misinformation that happens to match their political or personal viewpoints.
Instagram announced an update that will require new users to provide their date of birth in order to make an Instagram account. The purpose of this update is to make Instagram safer for the youngest members of the community.
If your Facebook and Instagram are connected, Instagram will add the date of birth that is on your Facebook profile. Editing your date of birth on Facebook will also change it on Instagram. Those who don’t have Facebook accounts, or who don’t connect it to Instagram can edit their birthday directly on Instagram.
In the months ahead, Instagram will use birthday information to create tailored experiences including education about account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people. They are also going to give users more control over who can send them direct messages in Instagram.
I am in favor of making efforts to protect young people on social media. Those protections should have been there from the beginning.
My only complaint about this update is it will require new Instagram users to hand over their birthdate to both Instagram and Facebook. Think about all the important documents your birthdate is attached to. Do you trust Facebook to keep that information secure?
One of the easiest ways to respond to an Instagram post is to click “like”. It is faster and easier than commenting, and it serves as a positive response to your friend’s latest photo. Wired reported that Instagram will be hiding “like” counts in the United States.
Months after the company tested hiding “like” counts in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Italy, and Brazil, CEO Adam Mosseri announced today at WIRED25 that some US Instagram users can expect their like counts to vanish from public view. The company will begin testing next week, at first rolling out the change to a limited number of accounts.
To be clear, this does not mean that Instagram is removing the ability for users to click “like”. You will continue to be able to click “like” on whatever you want to. You will also still be able to see who clicked “like” on the photos that you post on Instagram.
The part that is changing is significant. Users who are part of this test will no longer see the “like” count on the photos posted by other users. I wonder how this will affect Instagram influencers who make their money by attracting brands to sponsor them. Will brands continue to seek out Instagram influencers if the brand cannot see how many “likes” their sponsored post received?
Overall, I think removing the number of “likes” from public view can be a good thing. There are those who will delete posts that they felt did not receive enough of likes. That might change if the person realizes that no one else can see their “like” count. Making that information private could be a relief to many Instagram users.
Instagram is removing the Following tab in the Activity Feed. It was launched in 2011. Since then, the Explore tab was created, and it became the best way to discover new content. That said, some people are going to be sad when the Following Tab disappears. Apparently, people were using it as a way to snoop on the accounts they follow. The tab shows everything a person clicked “like” on.
BuzzFeed News reported that Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, said that Following wasn’t a feature that people used frequently and that the company suspected many users didn’t know it existed. And for those that did, it was often a source of unwelcome surprises.
“People didn’t always know their activity is surfacing,” Shah said. “So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up.”
It never occurred to me to find out what other people “like” on Instagram. If you are following me, and check the Following tab, you will find so many “liked” photos of cats and kittens, books, and art. Maybe I’m boring.
Based on several articles that I’ve skimmed through today, it seems that many people use “like” to click on photos that might be considered “NSFW” (or that were close to it). Personally, I don’t care what people “like” on Instagram. That said, plenty of other people do care! The Following tab was being used by people who enjoyed finding out what the people they follow clicked “like” on. It seems the feature became a form of entertainment for some.
I think the revelations about just how much the Following tab showed may have influenced some people to go through their Instagram “likes” and remove some of the more questionable ones. Following revealed more about a person than they may have intended, and some people are going to be embarrassed by what they have let their followers know about them.