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Social shorts: TikTok under fire for discrimination, Facebook enforces special ads restrictions, Twitter expands Brand Surveys

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This collection of social media marketing and new hire announcements is a compilation of the past week’s briefs from our daily Marketing Land newsletter. Click here to subscribe and get more news like this delivered to your inbox every morning.

Facebook’s anti-ad-fraud efforts, Twitter expands surveys

Facebook takes action against ad fraud. The social media giant filed a lawsuit Wednesday against one entity and two individuals for allegedly operating a hacking campaign targeting accounts on the social network. The alleged hackers are being accused of taking over their victims’ accounts to use their money to buy ads and fraudulent products, according to the lawsuit. Facebook said it’s paid more than $4 million in reimbursements to victims of these hacks. The company said it will continue to work toward mitigating malicious behavior on the platform, adding, “Creating real-world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity of our platform.”

Twitter expands access to Brand Surveys. In a play to give marketers more ways to measure campaign lift, Twitter announced this week the general availability of Brand Surveys for all managed accounts in the U.S., UK, Canada, Japan and Brazil. According to Twitter, the tool can be used to help inform and improve campaigns with the added benefit of being a first-party solution, which Twitter says allows the platform to offer “a low minimum media spend requirement while still delivering statistically significant results.”

Facebook now enforces restrictions for special ad categories on all platforms

This week, Facebook announced it will be officially enforcing audience targeting restrictions for ‘Special Ad Categories’ across all of its ad management tools, including Ads Manager, Instagram Promote, the Facebook Marketing API, and ads created within Facebook Pages.

The special ad category requirement is used for ads related to housing, employment, or credit opportunities, prohibiting these advertisers from targeting ads based on age, gender, ZIP code or multicultural affinity. The effort is a move on Facebook’s part to curb discrimination by advertisers. The ‘Special Ads Category’ was first introduced earlier this year for U.S. advertisers running housing, employment, and credit ad campaigns via Facebook’s Ads Manager. Starting this week, Facebook is expanding the requirements to all of its ad buying platforms, including Ads Manager app, Instagram Promote and the Facebook Marketing API.

Facebook said it’s also making these ads available to view and search in the platform’s Ad Archive – an effort to deliver further transparency. Users will be able to view all active housing opportunity ads in the U.S. that started running on or after December 4, 2019, regardless of whether the user is part of the target audience. Users will also be able to search the Ad Archive by the name of the Page running an ad, or by the city or state where the ad is targeted.

Facebook’s efforts to remove ad targeting options for housing, employment and credit advertisers are the result of a settlement the company reached with civil rights groups earlier this year, which charged Facebook with allowing discriminatory ads on its platform. Facebook first began rolling out the restrictions in March.

TikTok admits to taking the “wrong approach” to combat cyberbullying

TikTok faces discrimination backlash. The popular video-sharing app has admitted to censoring posts from users it identified as disabled, fat or LGBTQ+ as part of a misguided effort to mitigate cyberbullying. The revelation was made public by Netzpolitik.org, which spoke to a source inside the company and obtained private documents from the platform. The findings revealed that TikTok applied automatic restrictions to users who were “susceptible to bullying or harassment based on their physical or mental condition,” including, “facial disfigurement, autism, Down syndrome, or disabled people or people with some facial problems.” In a follow-up statement, TikTok said, “Early on, in response to an increase in bullying on the app, we implemented a blunt and temporary policy. While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections.” According to Netzpolitik.org, the rules were implemented as recently as September of this year.

Twitter rolls out a privacy hub. Twitter launched the Twitter Privacy Center – a centralized resource that advertisers and users can use to quickly and easily access the platform’s rules and policies – as well as personal data settings and privacy tools. The new site will contain information about Twitter’s initiatives, announcements, and privacy products, in addition to status updates on security-related incidents. “It should be easier to find and learn more about the work we’re doing to keep your data secure, including what data we collect, how we use it, and the controls you have,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Chrome extension shows Instagram Likes, Facebook tests “Favorites,” Snapchat couples up with Verizon

Return of the Like? Instagram is still testing hiding Likes – but a new Chrome extension from SocialInsider wants to give users the ability to view them again. Once added to your Chrome browser, the extension displays the number of likes and comments for any post on Instagram. The installation terms state that user data is not shared with Socialinsider servers.

Facebook tests a feature similar to ‘Close Friends.’ Rumor has it the social network is experimenting with a new option that allows users to share their Facebook and Messenger Stories with a “Favorite” group of friends – rather than sharing with everyone. The feature bears a striking resemblance to Instagram’s ‘Close Friends’ feature, which adds a layer of privacy and speed for users who choose to share content with only a select group.

Snapchat to be preloaded on some Verizon phones. Last week, Verizon and Snap announced a partnership that involves Verizon preloading the Snapchat app onto some of its 5G phones as part of a campaign promoting the 5G network. Snap will give Verizon ad placement in its Snap Originals programming, and it will also work with Verizon’s 5G Labs to build augmented reality experiences for live events and Verizon marketing activations. As Snapchat makes efforts to ramp up its AR capabilities (with plans to eventually roll out a wearable component), Verizon’s 5G speeds coupled with Snapchat’s audience reach could make the brand’s AR aspirations a reality. Get ready, advertisers.


About The Author

Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.

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Facebook Could Be Messing With Your Phone. Here’s What We Know

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Facebook Could Be Messing With Your Phone. Here's What We Know

Battery life is one of the most important aspects of smartphone usage — without solid battery life, a phone becomes far less useful. Even worse are instances when a phone’s battery drains faster than expected for no apparent reason, which may result in the user being caught off guard with a dead battery while away from a charger.

That’s the issue that prompted Hayward’s complaint, according to The New York Post, which quotes the data scientist as saying, “I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses.” Hayward was allegedly fired in November 2022 after refusing to engage in the negative testing practices, leading to the lawsuit soon after. The big question is whether this practice — assuming the allegations are accurate — is widespread at Meta. 

If so, what other kinds of negative testing may be taking place without a user’s knowledge, and how might those tests impact their experiences with the company’s products? Hayward claimed that during his time working for the company, Meta gave him a training document that allegedly described types of negative tests that may be conducted — the document was reportedly titled, “How to run thoughtful negative tests.” Unfortunately, specific examples of those tests weren’t provided, and Meta hasn’t commented on the allegations to clarify how its testing practices may impact users, if at all.

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Meta awarded researcher a $27,200 bug bounty for glitch that bypassed Facebook 2FA

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Meta awarded researcher a $27,200 bug bounty for glitch that bypassed Facebook 2FA

Facepalm: Meta recently implemented a centralized login system to make it easier for Instagram, Facebook, and Meta (VR) users to manage their accounts. Unfortunately, in setting up the 2FA system, engineers overlooked a glaring failure regarding attempt limitation.

A freshman security researcher named Gtm Mänôz noticed the bug in July 2022. While looking for his first bug bounty to present at BountyCon 2022, Mänôz started playing around with the Meta Accounts Center interface, which manages all Meta accounts, adding similar functionality as Google’s one-stop login for its various services (YouTube, Gmail, Docs, etc).

He noted that the page allowed users to associate a phone number with their accounts when linking them. Users simply enter their phone number and then the six-digit 2FA code the system sends them. However, Mänôz discovered that if the wrong code is entered, the Account Center just asks the user to reinput it instead of sending a new code.

Furthermore, there was no limit on how many failed attempts one could enter into the verification box. This oversight allowed Mänôz to brute force the 2FA on his own account to associate his phone number with another Facebook profile. The only warning comes after the phone number is stolen in an email from Meta to the victim informing them that it has been linked to another user’s account.

While the harmfulness of this exploit is mainly limited to a bothersome re-establishing of the owner’s phone number, it effectively disables 2FA on the victim’s account, albeit temporarily. Until the target takes action, they are open to password phishing attacks.

“Basically, the highest impact here was revoking anyone’s SMS-based 2FA just knowing the phone number,” Mänôz told TechCrunch.

Mänôz notified Meta of the bug in September, and it patched the vulnerability immediately. A spokesperson said that when Mänôz found the problem, the Meta Accounts Center was still in beta and only available to a small number of users. The representative also noted that Meta’s investigation revealed no spikes in the usage of that feature, indicating that hackers hadn’t exploited it.

Despite the relatively low-treat of the glitch, Meta awarded Mänôz a $27,200 bug bounty. Not too shabby for his first bug hunt.

Meta has stumbled a few times in the last couple of years regarding the login features of its various accounts. In 2021, it caused a mild panic when it logged everyone out of Facebook when reconfiguring the website. Last year, it purposefully locked many users out of their accounts for not enabling “Facebook Protect” by a deadline set by an official Meta email that looked suspiciously like a phishing scam.

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Brandon Smiley, Son Of Rickey Smiley, Dies At 32

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ATLANTA, GA — Brandon Smiley, the son of famed comedian and actor Rickey Smiley, died Sunday morning. He was 32.

The comedian made the announcement on social media Sunday, which was followed by a series of tributes Monday.

The cause of death is unknown.

Brandon was featured on Smiley’s Atlanta-based reality show, “Rickey Smiley For Real,” which chronicled the work and family balance of the comedian. The show also featured Smiley’s three other children and his “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” co-hosts. The nationally-syndicated radio show is headquartered in Atlanta.

Smiley is a Birmingham, Alabama native.

“I lost my oldest son #BrandonSmiley this morning,” Smiley said in a Facebook post Sunday. “I’m okay, but please pray for my son’s mother, Brenda, his siblings and his daughter, Storm.”

In a nearly three-and-a-half-minute Facebook Live, Smiley shared the news.

“I hate to announce this, but I want to give it to you before you hear it in the streets,” Smiley said. ” … Life comes with a whole bunch of twists and turns.”

His announcement was followed up by a 2020 stand-up set Brandon performed at the StarDome Comedy Club in Hoover, Alabama and a photo of Smiley with Brandon’s daughter, Storm.

Smiley shared Monday a video of him and Brandon together with the caption, “‘When you a daddy, you a daddy for life.’ #BrandonSmiley #DaddysBoy #DaddyForLife

His latest Facebook Live came around 10 a.m., when an emotional Smiley shared words of gratitude to people who have offered support.

“Losing your child is a terrible nightmare,” Smiley said in the post. “Yesterday was the shock of losing my son, Brandon, but today reality is setting in. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, kind words, text messages and calls. I really appreciate it.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin took to Twitter to share his condolences.

“I’m devastated to hear that my friend @RickeySmiley has lost his son, Brandon. Rickey has given so much to our city; this is the time when we need to give back to him. Join me in wrapping our arms around him and his family during this difficult time. We’re praying for you, Rickey,” Woodfin said in the tweet.



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