The Social Media Report #2

A look at the week's news at the intersection of social media and society

Welcome to the new edition of The Social Media Report, a review of the week’s key developments in technology, digital and social media. In this edition we take a look at social media and censorship, moderation and online harms, which are themes that have resonated most strongly in the news events.

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Each week we review what have been the prominent themes in social media and tech, then offer a run-down of the leading stories. Here’s our week in review.

The week in review

Social censoring: this week saw a step change in social networks’ approach to censoring content shared on their platforms, and their banned content policies. First Facebook, then Twitter announced that they will remove posts that deny the Holocaust, as this violates their hateful speech policies. This is a big change, in particular from Facebook, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously stated that leaving such content up on Facebook was part of free speech. Here’s Zuck’s new ‘evolved thinking’ explained on his FB post. The change of tune looks like a step in the direction of a new approach that could bring closer editorial moderation of content on social media, something users and brands should universally welcome. And speaking of content moderation, overnight, Twitter’s safety and trust spokesperson posted a thread of updates on what constitutes banned content when it comes specifically to hacks. It’s a change of policy, and now, hacked content will only be removed by Twitter if it is posted by the hackers. Others posting it will not have their posts removed.

Regulation is coming to social media: oooh, so this is why all the updates from the social networks on content moderation. The regulators are coming. The US Federal Communications Commission has made a move on the regulation of social networks. The FCC’s Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday announced that the agency will seek to regulate social media, saying that while social networks have enjoyed the right to allow free speech to date, they “do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

The 90:10 rule: there’s little escaping politics on social media this week. According to new research by Pew, 92 percent of posts on Twitter come from 10 percent of users, and politics is the driving force. Pew’s research focuses mainly on the political leaning of that vocal 10 percent, so is well worth a read if you are interested in audience behaviours. It finds that democrats dominate the vocal minority (spoiler alert). On top of this, political figures in general are the most-followed profiles on Twitter amongst US adults. Move over Swifty and Ronaldo.

My must-reads

  • Infograzing: How under-24s use social media and phones to ‘infograze’. YouTube, Instagram and Facebook lead the way for political news.

  • Neural phones: how Apple’s new A14 iPad chip could herald a future of handheld AI, AR and ML.

  • Among Us: YouTubers, influencers and streamers have popularised the multiplayer game Among Us.

  • FB Messengergram: Facebook has released a new look for Messenger and a new logo, saying it’s more closely linked to Instagram.

  • iPhone 12’s camera: the big launch this week unveiled power that pro photographers and videographers should love.

AI

Society

The media

  • Google for journalists: Google has released ‘Journalist Studio’.

  • Atlantic Planet: epic read The Atlantic has launched a new “guide to life on a warming planet”.

  • News feed service launch: River raises $10.4 million for privacy-preserving news recommendations.

  • Tech in the newsroom: and finally, a fascinating interview with The New York Times’ Ben Smith on tech, slack and social media in the newsroom. Ever wanted to know how big their Slack channels get? (2,000+).


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The Social Media Report is a publication edited by Drew Benvie, founder and CEO of Battenhall. Contact: db@battenhall.com.