Tuesday Tune-Up #437

Nick Carolan

Black Lives Matter
The protests against systematic police brutality and systemic racism that have arisen across the United States following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police have resulted in a seismic shift in the social, cultural and political landscapes – none of which would exist were it not for Black ideas, Black ingenuity, Black creativity and Black bodies.

The responses of the social platforms that this column ordinarily covers have been mixed, often fraught, in some cases making clearer the distinction between tepid brand support for social justice issues and direct, affirmative action.

Twitter, a platform which spent much of the last week imposing warnings and fact-checks on President Donald Trump’s incendiary ‘looting and shooting’ tweets, made like many of its contemporaries and changed its profile picture to a black logo, while also adding #BlackLivesMatter to its bio. Furthermore, the company’s @TwitterTogether account, which amplifies the company’s efforts to advocate for diversity and inclusion, is continuing to share resources including a list, Diversify Your Feed, that amplifies marginalised voices in an effort “to assist allies and potential allies in their journey of learning.”

In a post acknowledging that Facebook “needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms“, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social conglomerate would be committing an additional $10 million “to groups working on racial justice” despite remaining staunch in his position that “we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”

For many, however, that action has come too late. On Monday, hundreds of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in protest of the company’s handling of the President’s post advocating violence, murder and imminent threat against Black people. Elsewhere, Instagram amplified its parent company’s pledge to ending racial injustice, while encouraging its users to #ShareBlackStories.

After false accusations of censorship circulated on social media with the claim that TikTok had banned the use of the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd, TikTok issued a similar statement of support declaring their pride in being able to “provide a platform where #blacklivesmatter and #georgefloyd generate powerful and important content with over 1 billion views.”

Earlier today, Snap Inc. Chief Executive Officer, Evan Spiegel, publicly shared an internal memo condemning “heartbreaking and enraging racism in America”, while also calling for the creation of a diverse, non-partisan Commission on Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations to address racial injustice and implement comprehensive tax reform.

And after promising to spend $1 million “in support of efforts to address social injustice”, YouTube was quickly met with criticism that its moderation efforts against racist content have historically been less than supportive, on account of its well-documented history of allowing racist and white supremacist speech. Google, meanwhile, also delayed a product launch event slated for June 3, saying “now is not the time to celebrate”.

Instagram brings ads to IGTV, tests monetisation badges for Live
For the first time ever, Instagram is bringing ads to its IGTV platform, opening up the option to around 200 approved, English-speaking creator partners, including Ikea, Puma, and Sephora. For now, the ads will only appear when people click to watch IGTV videos from previews in their feed, and will be vertical videos up to 15 seconds long. Instagram is also planning to test badges for Instagram Live with a small number of users and business from next month, helping creators further monetise the platform.

Spark AR gets several new features for Instagram
Facebook’s Spark AR creation platform is getting a number of new updates to aid content creators on Instagram, including the ability to create AR effects that respond, move and play in sync with music in the environment. The social network has also added two ways for creators to integrate their own photos and videos into AR effects, rolled out a new surface in Effect Gallery, and more.

Snapchat takes its Partner Summit virtual
In response to the global pandemic, Snap Inc. will be livestreaming its Snap Partner Summit (on the Snapchat website) on June 11th from 9:45 AM PT/2:45 AM AEST. The event will detail new product features and partnerships for augmented reality offerings, the Discover content platform, developer and creator ecosystems and more.

YouTube introduces Video Chapters
Following an initial test back in April, YouTube has now rolled out Video Chapters, which allow creators to add timestamps to their videos so viewers to easily jump forward to a specific section. The feature will be available to all users across iOS, Android and desktop. Videos will need to have at least three timestamps that are 10 seconds or more in length in order to use the feature.

Twitter brings Drafts and Scheduling to Twitter.com
At long last, Twitter has added the ability to save tweets as drafts and to schedule tweets to Twitter.com. 

TikTok beefs up its web video creation capabilities
TikTok released a host of new features aimed at bringing more of the video creation platform’s experiences to the web. Users can now upload videos directly to TikTok via desktop, like, share and comment on TikTok videos, access and export insights, and more.

Twitch gets dedicated Twitch Gaming channel
Twitch has introduced its Twitch Gaming channel, the new home for all gaming news on its platform. The new channel will host gaming news, feature indie games, and more. Streamers will also be able to co-stream the channel, which means that their communities will be able to experience everything as it unfolds.

Ones to watch
This week, Facebook’s R&D group, NPE Team, has launched Venue, a new app for engaging fellow fans around live eventsCatchUp, to make it easier for friends and family in the US; and Collab that promises to deliver a new approach to collaborative music making. Facebook announced that Calibra – a Facebook subsidiary that is building a Libra-based wallet with integrations in WhatsApp and Messenger – has a new name, Novi.

This edition of the Tuesday Tune-Up was made possible with additional reporting by Ryan Dubras.

Image courtesy of Kar/@zaynscandycane