Nick Carolan

Cross-app communication introduced for Messenger and Instagram
Facebook will soon begin rolling out new functionality that will allow Instagram and Messenger users to communicate across apps, and will also bring a host of Messenger-inspired features to the Instagram inbox. The new messaging experience will offer users the ability to change their chat colour, react with any emoji, watch videos together, set messages to disappear and more. To support this move, Facebook has also added a new consumer-facing tool called ‘Accounts Center’, which gives users the ability to manage their connected experiences across Facebook-owned apps.

Facebook extends Brand Collabs Manager to public groups
Facebook has announced that public groups will be added to its Brand Collabs Manager branded content tool, meaning that brands will now be able to connect with admins groups to help drive engagement. In return, Group admins will have the opportunity to earn money and support their work in managing their communities. To support this move, Facebook built a set of tools for group admins to create branded content, but they must disclose all content partnership to members, in line with the social network’s branded content policies.

Facebook rebukes claims made in new Netflix documentary
Facebook has issued a seven-point response refuting “sensationalist” claims made in The Social Dilemma. The new Netflix documentary aims to provide viewers with an overview of the various ways in which social media platforms have become increasingly divisive and dangerous. Not so, says Facebook, who take issue with the film’s “distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems.” You can see their full statement here.

Instagram prepares retailers for the holiday season
Instagram has released the Season for Shops, a complete guide for retailers covering how to create a digital storefront using Commerce Manager and use shopping tags, collections and shopping ads to showcase more of their offerings to their audiences and drive sales.

Twitter reiterates policy on wishing harm to others
In light of the response to US President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Twitter has reiterated its policies around content “that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual”. In accordance with the platform’s rules around abusive behaviour, in place since April this year, tweets of that nature must be removed and any users who openly hope for Trump’s death on the platform may have their accounts put into a ‘read only’ mode (this does not automatically mean suspension).

The prompt invoked further ire from many of the platform’s users, who were quick to highlight inconsistencies in Twitter’s approach when it comes to removing the malicious content women and minorities on the platform are subject to daily. A number of US congresswomen, including Ilhan OmarAyanna PressleyRashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, voiced their dissatisfaction with the selective application of Twitter’s abuse policies, causing Twitter to issue another statement acknowledging abuse targeted at any elected official or general user will not be tolerated.

Survey finds online violence against women is escalating in Australia
A landmark report published by gender equality charity Plan International has found that online violence against girls and women is on the rise, with 65% of the 1,000 surveyed Australians responding that they have been exposed to a spectrum of violence, compared with the global figure of 58%. Per Guardian Australia, attacks are most common on Facebook, followed by Instagram and WhatsApp, and the most common type of online harm was abusive and insulting language (reported by 59% of respondents), followed by deliberate embarrassment (41%) as well as body shaming and threats of sexual violence (both 39%).

Twitch launches Soundtrack by Twitch to aid content creators 
Twitch has launched a new tool, Soundtrack by Twitch, that will allow creators on the platform to add licensed music within their streams. Creators will now be able to choose music from a set of stations and playlists curated by Twitch staff, by theme or genre, without having to worry about finding themselves muted.

LinkedIn expands its messaging service with video and more
As part of the ongoing rollout of its redesign, which includes the global introduction of Stories, LinkedIn has announced integrations with Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams, a move which will bring video chat into its messaging service. Along with video options, the platform is also getting the ability to recall, delete and edit messages, respond with emoji, and tools that flag incendiary and other harassing content.

Apple puts a greater emphasis on diversity with new emoji release
Apple is already in the process of testing its iOS 14.2 in early beta, which includes a new set of emojis. Among the emojis included in this update are: a transgender flag; a smiling face with tear; pinched fingers; a Mx Claus, a gender-inclusive alternative to Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus; a woman wearing a tuxedo and a man wearing a veil; a ‘Woman with Beard’ and a gender-neutral ‘Person with Beard’; an array of mixed-race, same-sex couples in a variety of skin tones; and an emoji summing up the modern mood, a ‘Face with Spiral Eyes’.

ACCC’s Facebook and Google news code should include public broadcasters, says unlikely alliance
Calls to include the ABC and SBS in a proposed new code forcing Google and Facebook to pay for the value they receive from distributing Australian journalism have been met with an atypical show of support from News Corp, the Greens and Labor. The public broadcasters were not initially included in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s draft code, which previously only covered commercial media heavy-hitters. It’s expected that the revised news media code will be delivered by the government later this month.

Also announced last week: an initial $1 billion investment from Google in partnerships with 200 news publishers “to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience” called News Showcase. Timing is everything.

Ones to watch
Discord has hit a lifetime high for downloads every day since September 5th, averaging 800,000 installs a day, to which the platform credits the surprise success of InnerSloth’s new game, Among Us.