The Latest Updates on Social Media Platforms - Edition One

The Latest Updates on Social Media Platforms - Edition One



Meta To Launch New Twitter Like App in June

Credit - Lia Haberman

Meta is poised to launch a new microblogging platform this summer, aiming to challenge Twitter's dominance. The app, partially integrated with Instagram, will allow users to maintain their verification and handle while inviting followers to join the platform.

Meta's decentralised and interoperable approach sets it apart, with integration with Mastodon on the ActivityPub protocol. The company plans to onboard high-profile public figures and leverage its vast user base through apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger. 

The codenamed app, referred to as P92 or Barcelona, will offer features similar to Instagram, including community guidelines, login credentials, and safety measures. 

Text posts, photos, links, and videos up to five minutes long will be supported, creating an engaging microblogging experience with a feed for interaction. 

Meta Launches Verified Subscription Program in UK

Meta Verified, a new subscription service by Meta, is now available in the UK and will soon roll out across Europe. 

Users can obtain a verified badge for their Facebook and Instagram accounts, offering protection against impersonation and access to exclusive features. To qualify, users must be at least 18 years old and submit an official ID for authentication. Meta actively monitors subscribed accounts to prevent the creation of fake profiles.

The service will be rolled out gradually over the next few weeks, with subscription prices starting at £9.99 for the web service and £11.99 for iOS and Android phones. Meta Verified has already been launched in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, aiming to support up-and-coming creators in building their online presence. It provides users with a verified badge, proactive account monitoring, and exclusive features. 

According to Meta, their goal is to create a safer online environment where users can confidently express themselves and protect their identities.


Montana to ban TikTok on all devices from January 2024

Montana has become the first US state to completely ban the popular short video app TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation to prohibit the Chinese-owned app due to concerns about potential intelligence gathering by China. 

While other states have banned TikTok on government devices, Montana is the first to take the step of banning it outright over security concerns. The ban is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st, 2024, but TikTok has indicated that it will challenge the move. 

The action against TikTok reflects ongoing tensions between the US and China, as well as increasing warnings from security officials regarding the app's potential risks. Chinese-owned companies are required to share their data with the Chinese government upon request. 

Although no such request has been reported, concerns have been raised about the access that the Chinese Communist Party may have to TikTok's data. Numerous cybersecurity agencies, including the FBI, FCC, and UK's National Cyber Security Centre, have issued warnings about using the app, particularly on devices containing sensitive information.

TikTok Trials New AI Chatbot, 'Tako'

TikTok has entered the world of AI chatbots, currently testing a new feature named 'Tako' in the Philippines. This chatbot is accessed via the right-hand on-screen menu and is designed to aid users in discovering relevant content on the platform.

Despite its novelty, TikTok is treading cautiously due to previous issues encountered with other generative AI tools. According to TikTok, "Tako is powered by a third-party chat assistant. We're in the early stages of testing Tako with select users in the Philippines, with no immediate plans for expansion beyond these early trials."

Tako's primary role is to match users' questions with relevant TikTok content, potentially offering direct answers about certain elements of video clips, and guiding users towards content trends.

However, given concerns over TikTok’s algorithms sometimes promoting harmful content, there are inherent risks associated with deploying an AI bot. Consequently, TikTok does not plan to release Tako to younger users and has a warning screen in the app to alert users.

In light of ongoing scrutiny of TikTok in the US, it's unlikely that Tako will be made available to US users soon. Nonetheless, the successful implementation of Tako could signify a significant advancement for TikTok.


Snap introduces  'Dreams' AI for their platform 

Snap is launching a new AI-powered tool called 'Dreams' which will allow users to place their likeness into AI-generated realities. This unique feature, powered by generative AI, offers a fresh way to interact and create in the social media space.

Moreover, text-based generative AI tools are gaining traction, even integrating into LinkedIn's post creation process. Despite initial scepticism about AI replacing human connection, Meta and Twitter are also reportedly exploring similar AI-powered functionalities, albeit their specific details are yet to be revealed.

These AI innovations are impressive, yet their practical use cases seem to be overstated at times. While some fear job losses due to AI, it's crucial to note that AI still requires human expertise to ensure its outputs are accurate and meaningful. For instance, despite AI's potential in content creation, it still tends to produce 'hallucinations' or errors, suggesting the technology's limitations in reducing human workloads.

Visually, AI offers exciting opportunities. However, AI-generated visuals often lack authenticity, and it doesn't necessarily solve the primary challenge of sparking creativity or conceptualization. Despite its potential, generative AI has not yet fully resolved the fundamental issues in content creation.

Generative AI is poised to play a significant role in reshaping the workforce, opening up new opportunities. Still, the practical application of these advanced tools currently seems to fall short of their radical potential. As it stands, the best uses we've seen on social apps are background alteration tools and chat enhancements.

In summary, generative AI could revolutionise our interaction with technology, but we're still in the early phases of this transformative shift. The future of social media and generative AI remains intriguing yet uncertain.


YouTube Plans to Retire its Stories Feature



YouTube is set to wave goodbye to its 'Stories' feature by next month, a format that was launched in 2018 to join the ephemeral content trend, kickstarted by Snapchat. 

However, despite the hopes for the feature, it failed to gain significant traction and was never fully launched to the entire user base.

Given the meteoric rise of Shorts and Community Posts, YouTube is deciding to shift its focus to these elements. Starting from June 26th, 2023, the option to create a new YouTube Story will be no more. Stories already live on this date will disappear seven days post their initial sharing.

Though some may consider this change when planning their YouTube content strategy, the company advises focusing on Shorts and Community Posts. Shorts have become YouTube's fastest-growing content format, and the platform continues to add fresh functionalities to Community Posts, which were recently made available to all channels.

YouTube has found that Community Posts are more effective at driving engagement, while Shorts provide a similar full-screen video experience, offering superior alternatives to the Stories format.

This move sees YouTube following in the footsteps of Twitter's Fleets and LinkedIn Stories, both of which have discontinued their respective ephemeral content offerings. The decision may lead us to question if other social media platforms will also phase out their Stories feature. Time will tell.



Twitter Vs EU Regulatory Standards

Twitter risks potential conflict with EU regulators as it withdraws from the EU's voluntary Code of Practice on online disinformation, part of the Digital Services Act (DSA). 

The Code aims to tackle misinformation and enhance transparency and accountability of large online platforms. Twitter's withdrawal could signal its reluctance to comply with the new obligations, possibly resulting in fines or suspension within EU states for non-compliance.

The European Union is enforcing compliance with the DSA, expecting all large online platforms to align. This move by Twitter could be indicative of a disagreement with these regulations, particularly in the wake of leadership changes.

EU market commissioner Thierry Breton has expressed concern about Twitter's decision. During Elon Musk's leadership tenure, EU regulators have emphasised the company's need to adhere to regulations. However, a preliminary compliance report in February indicated that Twitter had not met several reporting obligations.

Musk's stance on how to moderate information, preferring community-based fact-checking over established media sources, could be a point of discord with EU requirements. These regulations place a larger responsibility on platforms to actively manage misinformation.

Twitter might face severe penalties for non-compliance, with potential fines amounting to 6% of Twitter's European revenue. Twitter's decision is complicated by recent staff reductions, including moderation teams. 

The tech giant's course of action, particularly if found violating EU laws in the upcoming months, will be crucial to watch, particularly in light of Musk's strong free speech advocacy.

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