This month brought a slew of new social media features, but one very notable announcement we can’t stop talking about is the debut of Instagram Reels, a direct competitor to TikTok that has already launched in India following a TikTok ban.
The launch of this app is important because earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview with Fox News that the Trump administration was considering banning Chinese social media apps including TikTok over concerns that they are being used by Beijing as means to surveil people.
Around the same time, the United Kingdom banned Huawei, a Chinese tech company, from building the country’s super-fast wireless infrastructure, arguing that the company is a threat to national security. Given the worldwide uncertainty and growing concerns over Chinese tech companies, we are glued to our phones for the latest developments surrounding TikTok, wondering whether Instagram Reels will be as popular as its predecessor.
Until then, we’ll be scrolling through TikTok and enjoying gems like this.
Political Ad Ban: Facebook is considering a ban on political ads in the days leading up to the U.S. election in November. While we would love nothing more than to see every political ad gone, the move could impact “get out the vote” campaigns and only benefit those with money. As Nell Thomas, CFO for the DNC said, “a blunt ads ban is not a real solution to disinformation on your platform.”
Rivalry With YouTube: Facebook is preparing to launch officially licensed music videos on its platform in the U.S. next month, presenting a challenge to YouTube, which accounts for 46 percent of the world’s music streaming outside of China.
New Image Presentation: This isn’t the most exciting update, but Facebook is rolling out new image presentation options for posts, enabling users multiple formats for sharing pictures on their timelines.
New Labels: Aiming to encourage more Americans to learn more about voting claims, Facebook will add new labels to all posts from federally-elected officials and presidential candidates which mention voting or ballots, whether they contain misinformation or not, so that users can get the most accurate information from an official government website.
Screen Sharing on Messenger Apps: As if we weren’t already sick of hearing, “can everybody see my screen?” on Zoom (?), Facebook has expanded the availability of Messenger’s screen sharing feature in video calls and Messenger Rooms to their mobile apps. This allows users to share their screen with others one-on-one, in a group video call or in Messenger Rooms.
Ban on Conversion Therapy Content: Working harder than the United States government, Facebook and Instagram announced a new ban on all forms of content promoting conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is banned in one form or another in at least 19 states, but it remains legal at the federal level.
Privacy Settings For Messenger: Facebook will begin testing new privacy controls that’ll give users the ability to limit who can send them messages. Some of the features they’ll be testing include control over who can message or call them directly and automatically blurring images sent by users who aren’t Facebook friends. Messenger is making its “app lock” feature official. It adds an extra layer or security to Messenger chats by allowing users to require face or fingerprint ID before accessing.
Broadcast Messenger Rooms: Facebook has announced a new option that’ll enable Messenger Room users to broadcast their discussions via Facebook Live, further expanding their audience. Users who tune in to the broadcast will not be able to join the Messenger Room, but will be able to watch and comment.
De-Emphasize Like Counts: Facebook is testing a new Page format in its app which is designed to put more emphasis on the essential Page details – and which also, interestingly, removes the option to Like a Page, with the focus instead shifted to “Following.”
New Workplace Features: Facebook is rolling out a new set of updates for its professional Workplace platform, including an update for its Workplace Chat app, and dark mode options for the app.
TikTok Rival Will Launch Soon: Instagram has confirmed that it plans to launch Reels, a competitor to TikTok, in early August. The feature has been tested in Brazil, France, and Germany, and it arrived in India in early July following a ban of TikTok. Someone check in with Charli D’Amelio. ?
Instagram Stories On One Page: Instagram is testing a feature that will allow users to see more Instagram Stories at once, both in the home screen and in a new Stories-only page, for a full-screen experience.
Personal Fundraisers: Instagram is giving users another way to raise money for causes. The company is testing a feature that’ll allow users to link directly to a fundraiser from their profile page. Users will be able to raise funds for 30 days, with the option to extend their efforts for an additional 30 days. The feature is meant to support time-sensitive causes, such as fundraisers related to COVID-19 as an example, rather than for long-term efforts.
QAnon Ban: If followers of QAnon conspiracy theories weren’t already out of their minds in their tinfoil hats restricting blood flow to their brains, they will be now. Twitter announced that it has removed more than 7,000 accounts associated with QAnon, a group of online trolls who spread misinformation about alleged forces attempting to topple the president. Content associated with the group will be banned from the platform’s trend section and tweets sharing QAnon links will be blocked.
Brand Profiles: Looking to expand its business appeal, Snapchat adds brand profiles, giving brands an easier way to connect with their audience. Branded profiles will enable brands to showcase branded AR Lenses, highlights, Story posts, and a Store, which will enable users to browse and purchase products within the app. Isn’t it hilarious how Facebook rips ideas from Snapchat and vice versa? Just join forces already!
Self-Serve Ad Platform: TikTok made Ads Manager globally available and announced it will donate $100 million in ad credits so that small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can promote themselves during the health crisis. Focusing on this market is strategic, as SMBs spend so much on Facebook, that the social media giant will still bring in millions despite the ongoing advertiser boycott. We are interested to see how this all plays out, as there have been discussions about banning the app in the U.S.
Raising Awareness of Misinformation: As a society, we continue to be so horribly misguided that even TikTok has launched a video series to help users detect misinformation, scams and inauthentic online behavior. You know, the fun app that gave us the ‘Renegade’ dance. The series, TikTok said, is “an important building block” to becoming media literate.
$200 Million Creator Fund: TikTok is launching a $200 million creator fund meant to support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood on the app. Prior to this, creators could monetize live streams, but the new program will pay people directly for making videos.
Gamified Branded Effects: TikTok added a new, interactive brand promotion called “Gamified Branded Effects,” which enables brands to build branded games into their TikTok clips. There are currently more than 20 templates available, which can be customized with various brand elements.
Block QAnon Hashtags: TikTok has announced that it will block several hashtags related to QAnon, but will not be removing the videos using the hashtags from its platform (which is a bit pointless, but that’s just my two cents).
Name Pronunciation On Profile: The days of me being addressed as Victoria Figaro are coming to an end! LinkedIn is introducing a new feature that allows members to add a 10-second audio clip of their name pronunciation. Other users will be able to hear the clip by pressing a button by their name on their profile.
Post Quick Creation: LinkedIn has seen a boom in engagement due to the global pandemic, so it only makes sense that it would expand it’s post composer, with more options to help guide what to post about. When starting a post, users will see six prompts, celebrate an occasion, find an expert, share a profile, add a job, create a poll, and offer help.
Analytics For Artists: YouTube launched the Analytics for Artists dashboard, which shows musicians how fans engage with their music, whether it is on their channel or other places on YouTube.
New Monetization Metrics: Creators on YouTube earn money through advertising, subscriptions, donations, live-streaming, and YouTube Premium revenue. YouTube is now gathering those analytics and giving information to creators in the form of a new monetization metric called RPM.
Slew of New Features: Additions to the messaging app include the ability to add contacts via QR code, dark mode on desktop, focusing on a single participant during a group call, and users of KaiOS can now share Statuses, Whatsapp’s equivalent to Instagram and Snapchat Stories.
We will continue to update this list as we learn about new updates on social media.