Wednesday Wrap-Up #467
Google, Facebook threaten to shut down search and news in Australia
Google has threatened to remove its search engine and Facebook has threatened to remove news from its feed for all Australian users if the government’s proposed news media bargaining code goes ahead.
The legislation, which is currently before parliament, would force the digital platforms to negotiate with Australian news media companies to pay for their content; an arbiter would ultimately decide payment amounts if no agreement could be reached. Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, developed the code.
A joint exodus from the local market would mean some 19 million Australians who use Google every month would no longer be able to use Google Search; 17 million Australians who log into Facebook every month would not only be able to see news articles in their feeds, they also would be prevented from sharing links.
In response to the ultimatum, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said “[his government would not] respond to threats“; treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned that the code’s implementation is “inevitable” and that threats to shut down core news and search functions in Australia would do the platforms a “big disservice”.
TikTok adds new Q&A feature
TikTok creators can now add a Q&A button to their profile, allowing followers to leave questions which they can answer via video replies or in a livestream. Q&As have become a top way creators engage fans on social media, having already proven popular on Instagram Stories. For creators, this feature makes things a lot more simple, allowing them to view all their fans’ questions in one place. Q&A works across both video and livestreams, but is currently only available to select creators who have opted into the test.
Twitter launches Birdwatch, allowing users to flag misinformation
Twitter has released Birdwatch, “a pilot in the US of a new community-driven approach to help address misleading information on Twitter.” For the duration of its trial period, Birdwatch can be found on a separate section of Twitter and unpaid volunteers who apply to the program can write posts identifying and rebutting misinformation, which will only be found on the dedicated site. The goal is to make those notes available to all users in the long term, “when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”
TikTok launches its Creator Portal
TikTok has launched its new Creator Portal, providing guidance and tips to help creators maximise their in-app presence. The portal is separated into six key elements of focus, including ‘Getting started on TikTok,’ ‘TikTok creation essentials,’ and ‘Getting paid to create.’ Each topic contains a range of tips and guides to help creators with each specific component. The new feature could benefit brands and creators looking to establish an effective presence in the app. With the platform expected to reach 1.2 billion users this year, brands will be keen to tap into this audience, with a Creator Portal the perfect way to introduce content creators to the app and its possibilities.
Instagram launches new ‘Professional Dashboard’ to guide creators
On the other side of the playing field, Instagram has launched a new ‘Professional Dashboard’ to provide basic performance insight and other tools to help creators maximise and monetise their platform presence. The new platform centralises previously available services in one place, including comparative insights that help measure post performance; tools including Badges, Branded Content and IGTV promotions to help grow creators’ businesses; and links to Instagram’s latest educational resources, “including tips, tricks, guidance, and inspiration”.
YouTube launches hashtag landing pages to all users
Hashtags are coming to YouTube, with the company launching a new feature that allows users to better discover content. By clicking on a hashtag or by typing in a hashtag link directly, you’ll be able to find hashtag-curated videos in a heartbeat. When you click on a hashtag, you’ll be taken to a dedicated landing page that contains only videos that are using the hashtag. The page will be sorted to keep the best videos at the top, using a ranking algorithm to determine which content deserves to be above the rest. The new feature will serve as an interesting research tool for creators looking to better leverage the hashtag format.
President Biden’s Snapchat Lens offers a virtual inauguration
In a move befitting an historic presidential inauguration last week, President Joe Biden’s team, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Snapchat during their campaign, took to the platform to launch an innovative augmented reality lens that allowed users to picture themselves as the new president was sworn in. There were two lenses on offer: one using the front-facing camera where users are in front of the Capitol and an American flag as confetti falls, and a second where Mr Biden is speaking in front of a crowd of supporters who sent their photos in via email.
Clubhouse announces plans for creator payments
It’s not been a bad year for invite-only live voice chat app Clubhouse, whichs boasts high-profile celebrity and political users. The platform now has even more reason to celebrate, having just raised new funding. The app will be introducing products to help creators on the platform get played, including subscriptions, tipping and ticket sales. Also on the to-do list for Clubhouse is the development of its Android app, which is currently in the works.
Facebook’s AI-generated image captions help visually impaired users
AI has just got a whole lot smarter on Facebook and Instagram. Every picture posted to the platform gets evaluated by an image analysis AI in order to create a caption. The new system should be a real help for the visually impaired, and may help you find your photos faster in the future. Alt-text is a field in an image’s metadata that describes its contents, allowing the image to be understood by people who can’t see it. These descriptions are often added manually, but many people uploading photos to social media generally don’t bother, automatically making this content less accessible to the visually impaired. The improved system now recognises tenfold more detail than it did previously.
Ones to watch
Bluesky, Twitter’s decentralised social networking effort, has announced its first major update since 2019; Twitter has also acquired Revue, a Dutch startup that allows users to publish and monetise email newsletters; Pinterest has rolled out dynamic ad specialty; and Facebook’s Oversight Board will decide on Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook and Instagram within 90 days (fun fact: a research firm, Zignal Labs, found online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended Trump and key allies earlier this month).
This edition of the Wednesday Wrap-Up features additional reporting by Hannah Currey.