Reddit launches TikTok-style video feed for iOS
Reddit is the latest platform to embrace short-form video content, launching a video feed for the iOS app. A new video button appears next to the search bar, and pulls content from subreddits. Just like the TikTok experience, the Reddit version works as a scrollable vertical list of videos, with interaction options like upvoting and downvoting available. When the feature will be available to Android users is not yet clear, but the addition of video is a clear indication of where Reddit is placing its future priorities. 

Twitter debuts a new font and high-contrast features
Twitter’s had itself a bit of a facelift, revamping its website to become more accessible, less cluttered and easier to use. A new font is sure to freshen things up, with ‘Chirp’ offering a sharper and more legible typeface that allows for ‘more personality.’ All Western-language text will now all align to the left, which is said to make content easier to read as you scroll. There are also more high-contrast colours across the platform, with a lot less of Twitter’s famous blue. Buttons have now shifted to black, making important actions stand out. With accessibility a pressing issue for social media sites, these changes highlight how the platform is taking steps to ensure the site can be enjoyed by all. 

twitter website redesign 2021

Facebook brings end-to-end encryption to Messenger calls
Privacy is paramount for most social media users, and that’s why Facebook is extending the option of using end-to-end encryption for Messenger voice and video calls. End-to-end encryption prevents third parties from eavesdropping on conversations, meaning not even Facebook can listen in on people’s calls. Facebook-owned WhatsApp already uses the tool, with the feature fast becoming an industry standard when it comes to private voice and video calls. 

WhatsApp gains image editing and chat transfer tools
Swapped to Android but fearful of losing your precious WhatsApp chat history? Fear no more, as the platform is adding the ability to bring your chat history with you when you switch from iOS to Android. This includes all voice notes, photos and conversations, which can now be transferred using a physical Lightning to USB-C cable. WhatsApp is also rolling out photo-editing tools for its web app, allowing users to add stickers to their images before sending them. 

Instagram extends anti-abuse features
Instagram is making it harder to be horrible on its platform by rolling out a set of new anti-abuse features. Users will now be able to filter abusive direct message requests and limit other people from posting comments or sending DMs during spikes of increased attention. This means if you happen to go viral, you’re less likely to be subjected to tons of terrible comments from unknown accounts. If you’re the one doing the harassing, you’ll start to see stronger warnings against doing so, listing the consequences of your actions. To use these new tools, go to Instagram’s privacy settings and from there you’ll be able to turn on different limits. 

TikTok announces new features to protect user wellbeing
With a large chunk of TikTok’s audience aged under 18, the platform is bringing in new features to help protect these young minds and allow them to develop positive digital habits at an early stage. Users aged 13-15 will not receive notifications from 9pm, and for 16-17 year olds, from 10pm.  This is to help them focus on work, study, relax and most importantly, sleep. 16 and 17 year olds will also have to opt in to receive direct messages, whilst under-16s will now be asked to choose who can see their videos. More sleep and less scrolling? Sounds like a good plan to me. 

YouTube adds safety measures for users under-18
Safety first. YouTube and YouTube Kids are adding safety measures designed to protect users under the age of 18. The default upload setting for users between the ages of 13-17 will be adjusted to private uploads, meaning that the content they put up on the platform can only be seen by them or people they choose. There’ll also be reminders that suggest users should take a break or go to bed. All these features can be turned off but this may be information you don’t want to share with your little ones if you want to prevent them from getting square eyes. 

Facebook is reworking ads to be more privacy-focused
Facebook is adopting a fresh approach to advertising by placing more value on user privacy. Still in early stages, Facebook is examining several privacy-enhancing techniques to deliver personalised ads without knowing anything about the specific individuals who view them. Facebook’s VP of product marketing for ads, said “We definitely see that [ads] personalisation will evolve very meaningfully over the course of the next five years.” How this evolution plays out isn’t quite clear yet, but will be sure to become more evident over the following months. 

TikTok named the most downloaded app of 2020
In unsurprising news, TikTok has taken the crown as the most downloaded app of 2020. The platform took the world by storm last year, as many of us desperately sought out entertainment whilst being stuck at home. The platform is the only app not owned by Facebook to make the global top five downloads. 

Ones to watch
Twitter pauses verification applications and Instagram is testing ads in its Shops tab.