Tuesday Tune-Up #472

Nick Carolan

News Media Bargaining Code passes
The highly contentious media bargaining bill, formally titled Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2021, passed both houses of Parliament last week. The world-first legislation encourages tech giants and news organisations to negotiate payment deals between themselves, and commits Facebook and Google to invest tens of millions of dollars in local digital content. The code also forces platforms to give notice to news publishers of changes to their algorithms, which decides which stories are being displayed. As part of its response to the situation, Facebook has announced that it plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years, as a sign of its commitment to journalism.

Instagram launches Live Rooms for live broadcasts of up to four creators
Instagram launched Live Rooms overnight, a much-requested feature which lets users go live with up to three people. In a blog post, Instagram says they hope the feature will “open up more creative opportunities” for platform users, in addition to creating more ways to build a business and earn money.

Live viewers will still be able to purchase badges for their favourite creators at three price points ($US0.99, $1.99 or $4.99) and use other interactive features like Shopping and Live Fundraisers. The company says it’s also now developing other tools, like moderator controls and audio features that will roll out in the months to come.

Twitter announces two new features, Super Follows and Communities
Twitter has announced two significant upcoming changes to its platform. The first, known as Super Follows, will allow users to charge their followers for access to extra content, such as bonus tweets, access to a community group, or a badge indicating their support. While the second new feature, Communities, will enable users to create and join groups around specific interests – such as pets or gardening – allowing them to see more tweets focused on those topics. There is currently no timeline for when either of these features will launch.

Twitter rolls out vaccine misinformation warnings
Twitter announced overnight that it would begin using new labels to refute misinformation that could disrupt the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Announced in a blogpost, the move is designed to strengthen existing COVID-19 guidance, which has led to the removal of more than 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5m accounts worldwide.

A strike system will include labels that will initially be enforced by humans moderators in order to help automated systems identify violating content in the future. Users will face no additional action after their first strike; two strikes will lead to a 12-hour account lock, with a further 12 hours added for a third offence. A seven-day account lock will be imposed after four strikes, followed by a permanent suspension for five or more strikes.

The labels, which will appear as pop-up messages in the retweet window, are the company’s latest product experiment designed to encourage productive behaviours from users of the platform.

YouTube plans new parental control features for tweens and teens
YouTube is preparing to launch a beta test of new features that will give parents the ability to grant older kids more limited access to YouTube through a “supervised” Google Account. This will mean that parents can restrict what tweens and teens can watch on the platform, as well as what they can do, such as creating videos or leaving comments, while still giving them greater freedoms than the YouTube Kids app. The new features will allow parents to select between three different levels of YouTube access for their child, and will be tested in more than 80 countries worldwide over the “coming months.”

Clubhouse responds to audio-recording leak
Clubhouse has confirmed that it has “permanently banned” the user responsible for siphoning off audio feeds from “multiple rooms” on the platform and making them accessible from a third-party website. As part of its response, the platform has also said it plans to add additional encryption and blocks to prevent the service from pinging servers based in China, and that it would be hiring an external security firm to review the updates.

TikTok partners with NEDA to tackle eating disorders
TikTok is partnering with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) to launch its own eating disorder awareness week, and is implementing two new features aimed at providing resources and support to those who need it. Now, if a user searches for terms like “proana” (short for “pro-anorexia”) or “eating disorder,” the app will point them towards support resources and provide them with NEDA’s phone number. The company also plans on putting a PSA on hashtag pages that could potentially contain triggering content, such as the page for #WhatIEatInADay.

Telegram adds auto-delete option and more
Telegram is updating its app with options for auto-deleting messages, expiring invite links and new unlimited groups, according to a recent blog post. While auto-deleting messages are already possible in Telegram’s encrypted Secret Chats, this new update for iOS and Android will mean that users can now make messages disappear in any kind of chat, either 24 hours or seven days after messages are sent.

Ones to watch
Facebook is testing new tools aimed at preventing people from sharing content that victimizes children, as well as improvements to its detection and reporting tools; Twitter is planning a new ‘safety mode’ feature which will let you auto-block and mute abusive accounts; and you can now schedule new TikTok videos, but only on desktop (for now).