Facebook announces host of privacy-focused updates
Facebook's taken a hammering on the privacy front of late, and it's trying to claw back some trust. In a rather lengthy blog post from Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO admitted the platform had some credibility issues when it came to privacy (no shit) and announced big changes in its vision and principles. The proposed changes are part of a move towards Facebook being a "privacy-focused communications platform", with the headline grabber being plans to encrypt all Facebook users' messages end to end automatically (like WhatsApp already does).

Other updates include making messages ephemeral, merging Facebook's apps so users can message one another from any of them (first revealed a few weeks ago); and refusal to store data in countries "with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression." Our Chief Strategy Office Mobbie Nazir spoke to Campaign about the implications for advertisers, stating "It’ll be interesting to see what the business model for the new 'private' Facebook will be. If they can’t gather implicit data then how will they monetise the platform?"

Instagram's branded content ads boosts influencer content
Instagram is helping brands and influencers push their content even further with the introduction of 'branded content ads'. Previously, brand-sponsored influencer content would just appear to the followers of said influencer; now advertisers can promote the posts just like they would any other ad. So even if you choose not to follow Kylie Jenner et al, you'll probably see her touting some wares in your feed soon. Fantastic.

Instagram ads

Co-watching video feature spotted on Instagram
It's been reported that Instagram is working on a feature that will let users watch videos with others, much like Facebook's Watch Party. The feature would likely be accessible during a video chat on Instagram Direct, allowing users to pull in related videos and view a video playlist. Instagram declined to comment, but it seems likely it would be used to boost its longer-form video offering IGTV, which has had a mixed reception since it was introduced.

Instagram is working on sorting options and karaoke music videos
Instagram can't seem to keep its tests to itself. This time it's been spotted looking at a few updates: firstly, a new filter option allowing users to sort Follower and Following lists by most or least recent additions. Secondly, as if the world needed more karaoke, it's looking at a music video tool, complete with lyrics, for Stories. Finally, it's working on a new search bar for post likes on Android, which iOS already has - catch up guys.

Sorting

Snapchat beta tests new languages, focuses on Indian market
Snapchat has launched a beta test of eight new languages, mainly focused on the Indian market. Cracking India is proving to be useful for social media growth; Facebook now has more users there than it does in the US. Snapchat hasn't historically paid much attention to developing markets or producing an app that runs on lower capacity / slower connections like Facebook has, but since going public it's had to pull its socks up in this respect.

Snapchat shows off marker technology at SXSW
Snapchat has pimped the QR code with 'marker' technology and is showing it off all over South by Southwest (SXSW). Brands can put Snapchat's code on their packaging or ads, allowing people to scan them and bring them to (augmented) reality in the app. It's different to Snapchat's QR codes, Snapcodes - they unlock certain features such as custom filters; the marker tech animates images via the lens. At SXSW, the markers can be seen in action on 'Game of Thrones' and 'Detective Pikachu' posters.

Foursquare launches real-time heat map 'Hypertrending'
Foursquare is helping you literally follow the crowd with 'Hypertrending'. Launched in Foursquare's apps for SXSW attendees, Hypertrending is an anonymised real-time heat map that shows users where the masses are. It uses data from Foursquare's own apps as well as third-party apps that use its platform. Handy if trying to find where the big names are appearing, or perhaps more importantly, the loo with the smallest queue.

Hypertrending

YouTube starts fact-checking search results
As part of ongoing efforts to tackle misinformation online, YouTube has started rolling out ‘information panels’ which provide users with fact checks for certain search terms and phrases. While YouTube isn’t seeking to censor content or block video results from appearing, a platform spokesperson said that the move is part of “ongoing efforts to build a better news experience on YouTube”. The text prompts are currently only being rolled out to a select number of users in India.

YouTube fact check

Pinterest makes shopping-focused updates
Ahead of Pinterest's planned IPO, it's made a series of updates to make shopping (and therefore selling) on the platform easier. Retailers can now upload their entire product catalogue to Pinterest to create Product Pins - these allow consumers to see information about an item within a pin, including its price, availability and where it's available for purchase, and buyers can click the pin to go to the retailer's website. Other updates include personalised recommendations for shoppers within style, home, beauty and DIY boards based on what they’ve saved, and expanding the reach of its shopping ads via the platform’s self-serve ad manager tool.

Pinterest extends its ad offering to new markets
Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy have joined France on the list of non-English speaking countries where brands can now buy standard and video ads on Pinterest. The platform is also currently testing ads in the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland. Commenting on the platform’s international expansion plans, global head of partnerships Jon Kaplan emphasised that visual search was top-of-mind for the network. This follows data released last year which revealed that over 600 million visual searches were conducted on the network every month.

adidas launches new livestream series to promote women’s sports
adidas has teamed up with Intersport and Twitter to livestream women’s high-school volleyball and soccer games on the social network for the first time. Starting this April, the new @3StripeLive series will see the three companies broadcast six women’s high-school games live. More details are due to be released but the move follows the eight-part football livestream series, Friday Night Stripes, which the three companies collaborated on last year.