Social Media News Q1 2021 – 5 things you need to know

March 23, 2021

1. Facebook is upping its rule enforcement for groups… again.

It’s important to us that people can discover and engage safely with Facebook groups so that they can connect with others around shared interests and life experiences. That’s why we’ve taken action to curb the spread of harmful content, like hate speech and misinformation, and made it harder for certain groups to operate or be discovered, whether they’re Public or Private. When a group repeatedly breaks our rules, we take it down entirely.

A lot of group administrators have reported an increase in flagged posts, muted members, members put on post approval, and more.

2. TikTok has a new auto respond feature for business accounts

From Matt Navarra:

The messages are evidently submitted to TikTok for moderation.


This should be really helpful.

In an effort to make the process of uploading videos and generating ad revenue easier, Google-owned YouTube is rolling out a new tool called “Checks.” Checks will tell creators if their video contains copyrighted material and complies with the advertising guidelines of the platform, before they go ahead and post a video. Before this, creators had no option of checking if their videos contain anything that could be of conflict.

4. Clubhouse closes in on 13 million downloads

Their first year has been pretty solid.

“Clubhouse turns 1 on March 17th, 2021 — the app officially launched on the iOS App Store on Sept 14, 2020, and only 6 months later has seen 12.7 million downloads globally with the US, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Russia seeing the largest footprint. Garnering this level of success from invite-only access and limited to iOS is particularly impressive and has caught the attention of other publishers — particularly those in the social media space like Twitter and ByteDance (parent company of TikTok),” said Lexi Sydow, Senior Market Insights Manager at App Annie.

Clubhouse ranked among the top 10 iOS apps in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy Japan, Russia, South Korea, the UK and the US.

5. TikTok is looking at launching a group chat function by the end of the year


Group messaging is part of owner ByteDance’s plan to develop TikTok into more of a “social interactions app”, one of the sources said. The feature has been part of the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, since 2019.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

A group chat function would help TikTok keep users on the app longer. TikTok, which is particularly popular with teenagers and young adults, has also been expanding its livestreaming and e-commerce offerings and group chats would enable influencers to more easily connect with fans.

March 15, 2021

1. Living room impressions will start to appear in YouTube Analytics

This is a big one. Connected TVs, gaming consoles, etc. will be counted. Your overall metrics – watch time, views, and revenue – will not change as a result. You can watch the video for more updates:

2. Instagram has added more safety controls for their younger users

Instagram is trying to put parents at ease. Here are some things that are now available:

  • Adults cannot send messages to users under the age of 18 that do not follow them
  • Safety notice pop ups for teens when engaging in DM interactions
  • Making it more difficult for adults to find and follow teens

3. Facebook’s newsletter functionality

Looks like they’re trying to work with users off-platform, too. From Facebook:

In the coming months in the U.S., we’ll introduce a new platform to empower independent writers, helping them reach new audiences and grow their businesses. We will start by partnering with a small subset of independent writers. The platform will include a variety of support focused on content creation and audience growth, including:

  • A free, self-publishing tool with robust styling options to create individual websites and an email newsletter
  • An integration with Facebook Pages to enable publishing across various multimedia formats including photos, live videos and stories
  • The ability to create Facebook Groups and nurture a community of readers
  • Features to help audiences easily discover new content and writers, and in turn help those creators build direct relationships with their audience
  • Insights for writers to understand how content is performing
  • Monetization tools to build successful individual websites and businesses, starting with subscriptions
  • Accelerator services to help creators come together and learn best practices

4. Twitter’s “Brand Bracket” is a thing

Trying to play on the March Madness brackets, Twitter has started its own variation. Enter Brand Brackets:

Can anybody really beat Wendy’s though?

5. Clubhouse has launched a Creator Accelerator program

New to the game, but they’re working hard to help users build audience quickly. You can apply here by March 31st. From Clubhouse:

Clubhouse Creator First is an accelerator program designed to help aspiring creators on Clubhouse host amazing conversations, build their audience, and monetize. If you’re interested in being part of it, please apply below!

March 8, 2021

1. Twitter is testing an “undo” option

The “edit” option has been requested on Twitter since the beginning, and while the company shows no signs of caving, they may have come up with a compromise. From CNN:

The company confirmed to CNN Business on Friday it is testing an undo option that would potentially let users retract or correct atweet before it’s officially posted on the platform.
It’s not quite the edit button users have long requested, but it’s a step toward helping usersproactively catch errors and slow down before sending impulse tweets.

2. Twitter’s Spaces is now in beta for Android users

Edging in on the audio trend in social media, Twitter announced a while back that they were opening up audio-only rooms in the vein of Clubhouse. It’s live for Android users:

Spaces is similar in functionality to the invitation-only audio app Clubhouse, which allows users to gather with one person or a group for live conversations.

All Android users can now join and talk in any audio chat room on Spaces and will “soon” be able to create their own, according to a tweet by Spaces.

It looks like the privacy approach is very different than Clubhouse.

3. Facebook has expanded its political ad controls to over 90 countries

If you live in a country that requires disclaimers on political advertising, you can turn off political ads in your feed. US users have has this option since June, but a recent update revealed that the change had been made across the world. Turns out we aren’t the only ones who need a break.

Starting today, the control that allows people to see fewer social issue, electoral and political ads is now available in more than 90 countries where advertisers are required to get authorized and add “Paid for by” disclaimers to run these ads on our platform. People have told us they want the option to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram, so now more people around the world can make that choice.

4. TikTok rolls out Q&A to all creators

The feature has been tested for a while, but it looks like it’s now available to everybody.

Video Q&A features are available to users with Creator Accounts. To turn on Q&A, go to your settings and privacy page, select Creator, tap Q&A and hit the “Turn on Q&A” button to activate the feature. To switch to a Creator Account, select “Manage account” in your settings and choose the “Switch to Creator Account” option. Make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of TikTok to enjoy all that’s new with Q&A.

5. Snapchat has partnered with Gannett to sell more SMB advertising

In another move to compensate for ever-declining print revenue, Gannett reached a deal with Snapchat.

Snapchat averages 265 million users daily, and the average user opens the app 30 times per day.More than 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds and more than 75% of 13- to 34-year-olds use Snapchat, which enables a form of enhanced messaging, video chat and media consumption.

“This collaboration reiterates LOCALiQ’s mission: to make marketing innovative, efficient, and effective for our customers.”

March 1, 2021

1. More Twitter safety features

Twitter will be releasing a new “safety mode” feature that will autoblock and limit interactions for you, if they determine that people are using abusive language.

Here’s Twitter’s description of how the toggle will work if you flip it on: “Automatically block accounts that appear to break the Twitter Rules, and mute accounts that might be using insults, name-calling, strong language, or hateful remarks.”

With the new safety mode, Twitter will automatically detect accounts that “might be acting abusive or spammy” and limit how those accounts can engage with your content for seven days, according to the slide.

2. Superfollows: Tweets you have to pay for

Twitter is building a walled section of the site, allowing users to charge for certain tweets. Not sure how this one will go over.

With Super Follows, Twitter will allow users to make money from content that they make exclusive to particular followers. Sample screenshots released by the company show that the payment scheme could take multiple forms. For instance, a follower could pay a creator they follow on Twitter a few dollars a month to access that user’s exclusive newsletter or to see special tweets only available to Super Followers. They might also be able to join a particular group or access a badge that shows they support that creator.

3. Embedding Pins on OneNote and Word is a thing now

Microsoft announced that they’ll be supporting embedded Pins on some products. This may not seem widely applicable, but if you’re in education or presenting regularly, it may be helpful.

As of today, you can now paste the URL of any Pin onto a OneNote page or a Word for web document and it will render it as a live interactive embed, similar to how we support embedding many apps into OneNote and Word for web.

4. Twitter’s fight against Covid-19 vaccine information gets a boost

A few months ago they announced that they were going to fight vaccine misinformation. Now they’re going in harder.

Starting today, we will begin applying labels to Tweets that may contain misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to our continued efforts to remove the most harmful COVID-19 misleading information from the service. Since introducing our COVID-19 guidance, we have removed more than 8,400 Tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide.


February 22, 2021

1. Clubhouse chats are being breached

From Bloomberg:

An unidentified user was able to stream Clubhouse audio feeds this weekend from “multiple rooms” into their own third-party website, said Reema Bahnasy, a spokeswoman for Clubhouse. While the company says it’s “permanently banned” that particular user and installed new “safeguards” to prevent a repeat, researchers contend the platform may not be in a position to make such promises.


2. A freelance is coming to LinkedIn

It’s about time! Looks like LinkedIn is taking on Fivrr and Upwork:

LinkedIn is developing a new service called Marketplaces to let its 740 million users find and book freelancers, pitting it against publicly traded firms such as Upwork and Fiverr, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Seems like something that should have happened a while ago, and could be pretty powerful considering the existing user base of LinkedIn.

3. The UFC has entered into a livestream partnership with TikTok

Interesting long-term collaboration here!

Today we’re excited to announce a multi-year partnership with UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, to deliver exclusive livestream content for UFC fans on TikTok around the world. The weekly livestreams will feature pre-and post-fight access, behind the scenes footage and engagement with UFC athletes, and other exclusive content executions for TikTok. Through this partnership TikTok and UFC will give fans access to hundreds of pieces of content annually via @UFC@UFCRussia@UFCBrasil, and @UFCEurope.

Sounds like a pretty cool model is being build for live sports content on social with some bonus content added in to sweeten the pot.

4. Facebook’s answer to Cameo looks like it’s being tested

Back in December, Bloomberg reported that Facebook was developing Super. Like Cameo, users pay for celebrity face time.

“Viewers can tip creators by buying them digital gifts, or pay to “appear” alongside a creator during the live-stream to ask a question or take a selfie, according to a person familiar with the new feature, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the product hasn’t been announced publicly. Creators will also be able to sell merchandise or other products alongside the live-stream.”

It looks like an early stage site is live, with some basic functionality. You can sign up for upcoming events and watch old events, which are linked back to YouTube.

5. Spotify is working on some new podcast options

Some interesting developments here, as Spotify looks to expand. The company is working with WordPress to turn blog posts into podcasts. From Axios:

  1. The company is partnering with WordPress to turn written content directly into podcasts via its podcast creator platform Anchor.
  2. In the coming months, Anchor will enable more creators to add videos to their podcasts. This functionality is currently available to music artists.
  3. Spotify is also launching interactivity tools like polls and Q&A features for podcasters using Anchor.

February 15, 2021

1. Facebook is testing a reduction of political content in the feed

From Facebook:

To determine how effective these new approaches are, we’ll survey people about their experience during these tests. It’s important to note that we’re not removing political content from Facebook altogether. Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed.

Sounds like they’ll try to be more intentional about how its displayed. They don’t go into how it’ll be controlled, but should be interesting to see the results.

2. The forced TikTok sell off is not happening

Not really a surprise, but the Biden administration has made it official:

… the Biden administration asked to delay the government’s appeal of a federal district court judge’s December injunction against the TikTok ban.In a court filing, the Biden administration said it had begun a review of the agency action that would help it determine whether the national security threat cited by the Trump administration continues to warrant the ban.

3. Instagram is ramping up efforts to fight bullying via DMs

Here’s the gist, from Insta:

The abuse we’re seeing is happening a lot in people’s Direct Messages (DMs), which is harder to address than comments on Instagram. Because DMs are for private conversations, we don’t use technology to proactively detect content like hate speech or bullying the same way we do in other places. But there are still more steps we can take to help prevent this type of behavior. So today we’re announcing some new measures, including removing the accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see in their DMs.

Insta has some more detail in their release – it’s worth a read.

4. TikTok’s new recipe feature

TechCrunch has the update:

TikTok is expanding its integrations with third-party services, with the launch of a test that allows creators in the food space to link directly to recipes found on the Whisk app. This is being made possible by way of a new “recipe” button overlaid on related TikTok food videos. The feature makes a TikTok cooking video more actionable as it encourages viewers to not just watch the content, but also take the next step to save the content for later use.

5. Twitter is looking at some paid user options

They’re looking to offset their dependence on advertising, which makes sense. Things could start looking pretty different though. Bloomberg has a list of some features that could potentially have paid opportunity:

As Twitter moves closer to actual products tests, here’s a summary of some possible features or services the company could charge for:

• Ad-free feed. This may be a popular idea among consumers, but there are some, including Facebook’s Zuckerberg, who say offering users the ability to buy their way out of targeted advertisements and data collection is unfair because it rewards economic advantages. Doing this would also put Twitter’s most prominent business at risk.

• Tweetdeck. Power users love Tweetdeck, which has never had ads or generated revenue, because they can get tweets from multiple timelines in real time. Twitter has considered charging for Tweetdeck before.

• Exclusive content. This could be rolled out in many different ways. One option would be to let users charge followers for a separate timeline of their tweets. It’s similar in concept to a newsletter business. Some tweets are available to everyone, but others – perhaps analysis or breaking news tweets – cost extra. Twitter just acquired Revue, a newsletter startup, so it’s clear the company is interested in this general model.

• Higher-quality video. Segal has mentioned this idea, which makes more sense for video creators who want to upload high-quality video or clips that are longer.

• Verification. This idea could be popular among users, but seems unlikely to gain ground within the company. Verification is intended for “notable accounts,” according to Twitter, which indicates it doesn’t think verification should be for sale. Twitter surveys have shown that it is considering a verification badge for businesses, though it’s unclear what that would involve or if the company would charge a fee.

• Analytics. Users already get some free analytics, like how many followers someone added in a month and how many impressions posts get. But there is much more Twitter could offer, like follower demographics or what times are best for posting. Segal and user surveys have signaled the company is considering this option.

• Consumer features. This could include custom colors, hashtags or stickers for user profiles and posts. These kinds of small upgrades work with some messaging products, so there could be an audience for them on Twitter.

February 8, 2021

1. Instagram has added a new “Recently Deleted” folder

From Instagram:

“Now, for the first time, you can review and restore deleted content in the Instagram app. […] Photos, videos, reels, IGTV videos and stories you choose to delete are removed from your account immediately and moved to the Recently Deleted folder.”

This will give users 30 days to restore a post in the event of accidental deletion.

2. YouTube is diving into short form, too

From Social Media Week:

YouTube’s take on ‘Clips’ gives creators and viewers the ability to share 5-60 second segments from any original uploads or streams.

This is essentially a clipping feature that will allow creators to share short clips of longer works. Using timestamps, it’ll allow users to share snippets.

3. TikTok has added a label to help stop misinformation spread

A new warning will pop up in an attempt to get creators to consider their content

Here’s how it works: First, a viewer will see a banner on a video if the content has been reviewed but cannot be conclusively validated.

The video’s creator will also be notified that their video was flagged as unsubstantiated content.

If a viewer attempts to share the flagged video, they’ll see a prompt reminding them that the video has been flagged as unverified content. This additional step requires a pause for people to consider their next move before they choose to “cancel” or “share anyway.”

So basically, they’re trying to encourage creators to think through what they’re posting as much as possible.

4. TikTok has another major label agreement

They’re working hard to add to their available music content. As of today, they’ve partnered with Universal. According to the release, they’ve worked to reach an agreement that fairly compensates artists and songwriters and brings their work to the TikTok audience.

5. Facebook is testing topic exclusion controls for advertisers

From Facebook:

Facebook will soon begin building and testing new advertiser topic exclusion controls with a small group of advertisers. These controls will help to address concerns advertisers have of their ads appearing in News Feed next to certain topics based on their brand suitability preferences.

Looks like they’re working to give users a way to control what their content is attached to. Interesting!

January 25, 2021

1. TikTok’s new Q&A feature allows users to ask creators questions

From Matt Navarra:

2. Our Story section on Facebook Pages disappearing from Facebook next month

It was added a few years ago to help businesses give their audience some background. Looks like they’re giving it the boot next month. You’ve probably already received a notification.

Really, though, it’s just a format change – the information will still be available through the “additional information” tab on the page.

3. Insta is testing a hide/unhide toggle on like counts

This is actually pretty cool. A lot of influencers were stressed about the disappearing like counts, but this is an interesting approach that gives the account the option.

4. Pinterest expands AR Try-on capabilities to include eyeshadow

This is really cool, and according to Pinterest, it is converting Pinners to customers. A year ago, Pinterest launched an AR lipstick try-on option. Now, Pinners can try on up to 4,000 shades of eyeshadow with the new AR feature.

Pinterest is expanding its virtual makeup try-on capabilities with today’s launch of a new augmented reality feature that allows online shoppers to virtually try on new eyeshadow. Initially, Pinterest is allowing try-on with 4,000 shades from brands like Lancome, YSL, Urban Decay and NYX Cosmetics.

5. Dark Mode may be coming to Snapchat

Snapchat confirmed that it is being tested.

Snapchat has confirmed the discovery of Dark Mode, with the statement ‘available in a few markets’

Snapchat is one of the last popular social media applications yet to include a dark mode theme. Recently Snapchat also rolled out a simple home screen widget with the users Snapcode.

January 12, 2021

1. The new Facebook Page layout update downplays like counts

The Follow button is the new star on Facebook’s new page layout. It’s a small shift but it makes sense: Page Likes are not as powerful as Follows. By emphasizing the Likes on a page, they’re giving a more accurate representation of the Page influence.

2. Facebook banning all posts containing “Stop The Steal”

From Facebook:

We are now removing content containing the phrase “stop the steal” under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram. We removed the original Stop the Steal group in November and have continued to remove Pages, groups and events that violate any of our policies, including calls for violence.

3. More than 70,000 Twitter accounts are suspended in the wake of the attack on the Capitol

Twitter is aggressively cleaning up the platform:

Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended as a result of our efforts, with many instances of a single individual operating numerous accounts. These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.

4. LinkedIn Stories have a swipe up option now

You need a page or at least 5,000 connections, but the capability is there!

To add the swipe up feature:

  1. Add a photo or video to your Story.
  2. Tap the  Link icon at the top.
  3. Add the URL under Add a link.
  4. Select the applicable action button.
  5. Tap Done.
    • Note: You can tap Edit Link to modify your link or Preview Link to see what your viewers will see when they swipe up on your Story.
  6. Tap Share Story.

5. TikTok overhauled its privacy settings to protect younger users

In addition to launching an Under 13 app experience, they’ve changed the default settings for users age 13-15. Some examples:

  • Tightening the options for commenting on videos created by those ages 13-15. These users can now choose between Friends or No One for their account; the Everyone comment setting is being removed.
  • Changing Duet and Stitch settings to now make these features available on content created by users age 16 and over only. For users ages 16-17, the default setting for Duet and Stitch will now be set to Friends.
  • Allowing downloads of videos that have been created by users 16 and over only. Other users can decide whether they want to allow downloads of their videos, though for users ages 16-17 the default setting will now be changed to Off unless they decide to enable it.
  • Setting “Suggest your account to others” to Off by default for users ages 13-15.

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