Nick Carolan

The US Government sues to break up Facebook
The Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general have filed separate lawsuits against Facebook, calling it an illegal monopoly that needs to be broken up. The complaints argue that Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp illegally to stifle competition in the social media marketplace and calls for the company to divest from these popular applications. Facebook has said that it will vigorously defend itself against the suits.

Closer to home, Australia’s competition regulator has said it will closely scrutinise the landmark legal proceedings, which come just days after the Australian government tabled legislation in Parliament for a new media bargaining code designed to force Facebook and Google to pay news publishers.

FTC orders enquiry into social data harvesting
Also breaking today: the FTC has ordered Amazon, Facebook, WhatsApp, Discord, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok owner ByteDance to explain how they collect, use, and present personal data harvested from users. The new fact-finding mission imposes a 45-day deadline on the tech giants, and while it doesn’t include any law enforcement action, it also doesn’t preclude it from pursuing action contingent on what it finds.

Instagram launches shopping in Reels
Instagram has launched shopping in its TikTok competitor, Reels, allowing both businesses and creators to tag products when they create content in the app. With lots of Reels featuring shopping content, like fashion looks, makeup and skincare, this is a logical next step in the app’s conquest into e-commerce. When people view an Instagram Reel with shopping content, they’ll be able to tap a ‘View Products’ button to either buy, save, or learn more about the featured products.

Facebook’s app for collaborative music videos launches
Collab, Facebook’s experimental app for making collaborative music videos, is today launching on the App Store. Collab first emerged in late May and takes cues from TikTok’s collaborative features, like duets and stitches, albeit it with a direct focus on music. In the app, a “collab” is a selection of three 15-second independent videos, stacked on top of each other, that play in sync.

You can now add tweets to your snaps
Twitter is making it even easier to spread your tweets far and wide, including on Snapchat, where you’ll be able to add tweets into a snap as a sticker. You can do so by pressing the share button on a public tweet and selecting the Snapchat icon from the share carousel. You can then send it to people, add to your story and whoever sees it can go to the tweet by swiping up. With Twitter content filling the feeds across social platforms, this is a clever move from the social app to reach an audience that exists beyond the realms of their own channel.

Image of a tweet that has been embedded into an Instagram story

Pinterest adds favourites, notes and a new toolbar
This year has given Pinterest cause to celebrate. The social curation app has benefited from a universal increase in screen time during the pandemic, which has kept people indoors to shop, socialize and plan long-gestating events online. There’s been a 35% increase in the number of monthly boards created during the last six months, with the new features – notes, favourites and a board toolbar – aimed at helping those who use their boards for making lists. The board toolbar makes it easier to sort through pins by offering to connect users to actions that can be taken on board.


Google to let YouTube users opt out of gambling and alcohol ads
Google now allows YouTube users to opt out of most gambling and alcohol adverts. This is a response to feedback from users concerned by the number of ads for alcohol and gambling that they were seeing online. Google won’t guarantee that the feature will filter out 100% of these adverts, but they remain confident it will exclude the vast majority. Henry Ashworth, the Chief Executive of the industry-led International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, commented: “Respecting these personal preferences and recognizing differences in culture requires sensitivity and action, that’s why we hope this partnership is the start of a bigger movement.”

Twitch overhauls its rules around harassment and hateful conduct
Twitch has revealed that women, members of the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities are disproportionately harassed on the site. This has led to the platform announcing changes to its policies around harassment and hateful conduct, including stricter protections around sexual harassment. The new rules will apply to content created from January 22nd, and are far more stringent than their previous codes of conduct, having worked with its Safety Advisory Council and industry experts for months to develop the rules.

YouTube will now remove videos disputing Biden’s election victory
Auspicious news to be reporting on the same day that the US Electoral College formalized the election results: YouTube has announced that it will begin removing any content alleging widespread voter fraud influenced its outcome. The decision to begin removing these videos follows the US’s safe harbour deadline – a time at which ‘enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect.’

Ones to watch
Reddit has bought Dubsmash in a bid to compete with TikTok. Dubsmash will continue to exist as a separate platform and brand, but its “innovative video creation tools” will be integrated into Reddit. Twitter has also acquired screen sharing social app, Squad; reports suggest Twitter may also be shuttering Periscope as well.

The Tuesday Tune-Up includes additional reporting by Hannah Currey.