Senator Elizabeth Warren said that if she is elected president in 2020, her administration will break up the giants of the tech industry. This was announced at SXSW in Austin, and in a detailed post on Medium. In that post, Senator Warren mentioned Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
Senator Warren’s plan would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year in revenue as a “platform utility”, and will prohibit those companies from using those platforms to selling their own products.
The Verge interviewed Senator Warren. Her plan includes Apple – which was not mentioned in the Medium post. Senator Warren wants to break Apple apart from their App Store. As far as I can tell, the plan also calls for Google to split from Google Play. Personally, I’d like to see more specific information from Senator Warren about how that change will affect how apps are distributed.
In part of the interview, Senator Warren said:
The problem is that’s not competition. That’s just using market dominance, not because they had a better product or because they were somehow more customer-friendly or in a better place. It’s just using market dominance. So, my principle is exactly the same: what was applied to the railroad companies more than a hundred years ago, we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way.
In short, the plan would prevent Amazon from selling Amazon Basics products on the Amazon retail store. It would stop Google from promoting its own products in Google Search. And, it would require Facebook to split apart from Instagram and Whatsapp. It is a strong push for antitrust enforcement of an industry that has been untouched by those laws.
Personally, I would like to see Facebook and Instagram split apart. I’m not a fan of Facebook (and stopped using it years ago). Instagram brings me joy, but I am conflicted about continuing to use it because it belongs to Facebook. I’d also like to see YouTube separated from Google.
Instagram users may have encountered an unexpected change today when trying to scroll through their feed. Instead of being able to vertically scroll through Instagram, the change temporarily switch it to a horizontal scroll.
TechCrunch reported that the change was due to a bug that mistakenly rolled out the change to the Instagram feed. Many users found the change from vertical scrolling to horizontal scrolling to be annoying.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, posted an explanation on his verified Twitter account: “Sorry about that, this was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we anticipated.” This was in response to another Twitter user who was noticed the unexpected horizontal scroll and who commented about it to Adam Mosseri.
The Verge reported: Only a few minutes after the horizontal feed went live, the old-fashioned vertical feed seems to have reappeared for most of the users who had been seeing the horizontally scrolling test.
I checked my Instagram, and it is allowing me to scroll vertically through it. The bug had been fixed before I learned that it temporarily changed the feed to a horizontal scroll.
I’m not sure why the switch away from a vertical scroll was such a big deal for so many Instagram users. Change is hard, I suppose. If anything, it is possible that the bug that launched the horizontal scrolling more widely than expected was useful. It gave Instagram plenty of user feedback to consider.
You have probably seen plenty of ads on Instagram. They show up mixed in with the content you want to see from the accounts you decided to follow. The ads are easy to identify because they are labeled “Sponsored”.
Ads are much less obvious when presented by an Instagram influencer. A viewer might not understand that what they are looking at is an ad.
Influencers who fail to make it clear that the photo or video includes an endorsement may be in violation of Federal Trade Commission rules regarding paid endorsements on social media. It is entirely possible for an influencer to unintentionally break the rules. According to the FTC:
…an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations or depictions of the name, signature, likeness, or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution.
Wired has a detailed article that looks at Instagram influencers who are paid to promote a specific product. The influencer might be paid to promote that product, or to disparage a similar product from a competing brand. Or, the influencer may be given something for free with the expectation that they will praise it on Instagram.
In essence, this type of situation functions like an unlabeled advertisement. The FTC rules require influencers to disclose that they have been endorsed to talk about the product or service they are featuring. Those who fail to do so could be investigated by the FTC.
The FTC rules govern more than how endorsements are disclosed on Instagram. It also covers social media, blogs, TV commercials, and more. It is a good idea to read over the FTC rules before you post content that contains an endorsement. Make sure you are within compliance.
Image from Pexels
Instagram has introduced Nametag. It is a customizable identification card that allows people to find your Instagram profile when it is scanned. Did Instagram make this because people were complaining that it was too difficult to share their Instagram name with others? I doubt it.
Nametag is something Instagram users can set up within the Instagram app. Nametag includes your Instagram username. You can personalize your Nametag by choosing other designs, colors, emojis, and selfies.
The idea is that this will encourage people to ask people they meet outside of the internet what their Instagram username is. Nametag would allow two people to scan each other’s Nametag’s and start following each other. Was it really so difficult to just tell people what your Instagram username is?
Personally, I don’t have a use for Nametag. My Instagram account is private because I found my Instagram photos on other people’s websites and it bothered me. I’m incredibly picky about who I will let follow me on Instagram.
Nametag sounds like a fun little gimmick that could result in more user interaction on Instagram. That’s one thing that social media companies want – to encourage users to engage with their social media site more often.
In addition, Instagram is testing something called School Communities. College and university students, as well as recent grads, can opt-in to their School Community. Doing so allows a user to add a profile that lists their university, class year, major, sports team and sorority.
Those who are in the same university can click on a directory listing all the people who have attended it. In other words, School Communities is a way for Instagram to create a database of college students.
School Communities also appears to also be designed to encourage users to interact more on Instagram. In addition, it is a sneaky way to get users to give more of their personal data to Instagram (and therefore, Facebook). Beware of the fun features that social media companies create. They may have an ulterior motive.
Instagram recently introduced the Questions Sticker. It functions something like Ask.fm and Formspring. It turns out that Instagram’s Questions Sticker is not anonymous.
The Questions Sticker is an interactive feature in Instagram Stories that lets your friends submit questions for you to answer. Instagram describes it as “a fun new way to start conversations with your friends so you can get to know each other better.” Two other features, the polling sticker, and the emoji slider, are also designed to help people get to know their friends better on Instagram.
To use the Questions Sticker, you first need to take a photo or video. The example on the Instagram blog shows a photo with a Questions Sticker that says “waiting for the bus… ask me questions!” Your friends can see the sticker and tap it to reply (as many times as they like).
You can find your friends’ responses in your story’s viewers list. Tap any question they’ve asked to create a new story where you can answer it, and the question you’re answering will appear on your story for context. Though you’re able to see who submitted each response in your viewers list where it’s private, when you share that response in your story, your friend’s photo and username will not be shown.
The Guardian reported that Instagram’s Questions Sticker is not anonymous. You will be able to see who submitted each response to your questions.
The part that seems to be confusing people is that when someone shares a response publicly, the username of the person who made that response is removed. The Guardian notes that the way Instagram explained how the Questions Sticker functioned was unclear. The result is there are some very embarrassed people out there who thought their mean words could not be connected to them.
Instagram announced on May 1, 2018, that they will filter bullying comments intended to harass or upset people in the Instagram community. I learned about this when my phone notified me that there was an Instagram update.
Starting today, Instagram will filter bullying comments intended to harass or upset people in the Instagram community. To be clear: we don’t tolerate bullying on Instagram. Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited bullying on our platform, and I’m proud to announce this next step in our ongoing commitment to keeping Instagram an inclusive, supportive place for all voices.
In the blog post about Instagram’s decision to filter bullying comments, Instagram points out their offensive content filter (which was announced last year.) That filter automatically hides toxic and divisive comments, particularly those aimed at at-risk groups.
The new bullying comments filter hides comments containing attacks on a person’s appearance or character, as well as threats to a person’s well-being or health. The bullying filter is on for the Instagram global community. Those who don’t want to use the bullying comments filter can disable it in the Comment Controls center in the Instagram app.
The bullying comments filter will also alert Instagram to repeated problems so they can take action. In addition, Instagram is expanding their policies to guard against bullying young public figures on their platform. In the blog post, Instagram states “Protecting our youngest community members is crucial to helping them feel comfortable to express who they are and what they care about.”
Instagram introduced its bookmarking tool in December of 2016. Now, Instagram is adding a way for people to organize the bookmarked posts that they saved into collections. This feature reminds me of Pinterest boards. Both allow users to gather up a selection of things that other users have posted, that fit one theme or topic, in one easy to view place.
On Instagram, bookmarking allows people to save photos that other people have posted. There is a little bookmark shaped icon underneath each Instagram photo. Press and hold the bookmark, and you automatically save that photo.
Collections take this simple process one step further. You can now create as many collections on Instagram as you like, and give each their own title. Sort your bookmarks into the appropriate collection. You can now go back and view a specific collection any time you want, without having to sort through your bookmarks to find them.
Instagram says that, since they introduced the ability to save posts, 46% of Instagrammers have saved at least one post. People save posts that they want to see again. For example, Instagram notes that some people are saving photos that will help them plan their next trip, or to remind them of something they want to purchase. Of course, there will always be people who save photos and videos of animals.
The collections you make on Instagram are private (just like your saved posts are). No one can see them except for you. The update that allows you to make collections in Instagram is available for iOS and Android as part of Instagram 10.16.