July Social Media Roundup
Here’s what’s happened on social in the past month…
As always, this month has been full of updates, news and changes on social media.
It seems as though the Cambridge Analytica scandal has permanently been in the company hit the news in early 2018. And rightly so, the data scandal prompted massive changes to how companies mine and store data. This scandal changed the way social platforms and apps address the privacy concerns of their users, with Facebook as the platform in the spotlight. The data scandal with Facebook led to harsh, but fair scrutiny surrounding the ethics of data harvesting, privacy and personalisation of ads.
This month saw the Facebook data crisis reach its crux, with The Federal Trade Commission announcing a $5 billion settlement over privacy breaches. This figure is the largest fine in FTC history, with Facebook agreeing to the deal, following years of speculation about the company’s privacy practices. This includes the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that is widely assumed to have directly impacted the US 2016 election. Over 87 million users’ information was affected during this period.
Another loss for Facebook this month, as the platform and the other platforms they own (Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) all went down simultaneously. The failure is being deemed the largest internet outage in history. Tech site, DownDetector said ‘91% of its Instagram reports involved problems with the news feed. For WhatsApp, 72% of reports described issues sending or receiving messages, while 25% said they were having connectivity problems.’
In the world of Instagram, influencers are inadvertently under fire. Recently, Instagram has come forward to say that they believe the platform is contributing to poor mental health and reduced self-esteem of users. They believe this is down to the focus on ‘likes’, rather than quality content. As such, they are trialling an Instagram without likes.
This means users cannot see how many likes a post has received. They can see their own, but other people cannot – retaining the metrics of success, but removing the feeling of inadequacy. Some users trialling the like-less Instagram have said that without likes, they find themselves focusing on ‘the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get’.
Influencers, however, are claiming that without likes, the important metrics that ensure monetisation are gone. This is not necessarily true, as users can still see their own likes, it’s only others who can’t. Ultimately though, this has still led to many influencers feeling unsure about the future of the platform. For many of them, it’s a career, but for regular users, they are portraying a picture-perfect life that is, for the most part, unattainable.
July has seen the first update of the Twitter interface in 7 years. A long overdue update, the redesign has meant that previous limitations due to old technology have been lifted. This means the engineering team can now regularly improve the functionality of the platform. The new redesign is subtle, with Mike Kruzeniski, Twitter’s senior director of product design stating, “Some of it is subtle, but a lot of it is a simplification of design”.
Switching between profiles is now easier, and so is searching for trending topics – which are now positioned to the right of the desktop screen. Twitter believes it’s “purpose is to serve the public conversation,” which is perhaps why the ‘What’s Happening?’ tweet composition box, and search box appear so dominant in the redesign.
This month saw LinkedIn fixing a loophole that allowed a spoof Google CEO job advertisement to be uploaded to the platform. The loophole allowed almost anyone to post a job listing on company pages without any authorisation. According to the platform, this was a result of “a bug in our online jobs experience that allowed members to edit the company after a job had already been posted.” According to LinkedIn, the issue has now been resolved.
In other tech and social news, Reddit has announced the launch of community awards. These are new Reddit Gold-style medals that subreddits can design for themselves. The platform hopes this will be a way to reward users for quality posts and will pay homage to specific in-jokes in Reddit culture.
Another tech topic to hit the news is that Siri may actually be listening to you… Not all the time, however, Apple has confirmed that only a small portion of Siri recordings are reviewed by contractors. Currently, there is no way to opt-out of your recordings being processed like this. But, with Apple’s keen focus on privacy, they may well now take further steps to anonymise the recordings.
That’s it for July, but as always, we’ll be back with more social media news and updates after August!