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A Musk-owned Twitter opens door to potential Trump return



A Musk-owned Twitter opens door to potential Trump return

Photo: © Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images


Four days after Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, the then-US president’s son pleaded with entrepreneur Elon Musk to employ his “brilliance” to launch a social media platform that “isn’t biased” to crush the competition.

Musk didn’t accept Donald Trump Jr’s challenge.

But the Tesla chief’s deal to acquire Twitter sets him up to revisit the ban on the brash Republican — a move that could roil US politics as the nation marches towards the 2024 presidential race and a potential Trump re-election bid.

The Trump matter has loomed as a question mark throughout the twists and turns of the Twitter deal saga. 

A reinstatement of Trump would have significant implications for a media landscape the ex-president once dominated before he was deplatformed “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Since then, Trump has remained the most powerful figure in Republican politics, even as he has all but vanished from the daily news cycle. 

When Trump does make news, he continues to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him, a false narrative that fuels his movement and sows distrust of US institutions.

– Irresistible? –

Trump has said he wouldn’t return to Twitter even if offered, telling Fox News on Monday he would instead stay on his fledgling Truth Social platform, which has struggled to fully get off the ground.

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On Tuesday, Truth Social was the most downloaded iPhone app, at least for that day. But its launch has been beset with technical problems and it has yet to make it onto the national political radar.

Nevertheless, many remain skeptical Trump would be able to resist rejoining Twitter if given the chance.

A Washington Post article Monday quoted anonymous Trump aides who said the ex-president badly misses Twitter, which he employed as president to settle scores and mold the news cycle.

While pursuing Twitter in recent weeks, Musk has not directly addressed the Trump question. 

Analysts believe Musk is driven primarily by a desire to control a visible marketing platform more than aspirations to shape American politics.

But many read Musk’s criticism of Twitter content policies as suggesting he will lift the Trump ban.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said Monday in announcing the deal.

– ‘He sells news’ –

A Trump reinstatement is not without downside for Musk, who could face pushback beyond the world of Twitter.

“Trump is about as polarizing an issue as any imaginable,” said Daniel Binns, chief executive of Interbrand North America in New York. 

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“There might be some short-lived boycotting of Tesla amongst a small group of potential customers,” Binns told AFP in an email.

“But long term, I would fear a more corrosive erosion of the affinity people have for Tesla and the sense of empathy they have for their customer base,” he added.

Still, several experts in politics and social media characterized a Trump return as more likely than not in light of Musk’s freedom of speech statements and Trump’s standing as a potential 2024 Republican frontrunner.

New York Times columnist Kara Swisher urged readers to ready themselves for a shift from the “over-one-year-long respite from Trumpy Twitter.”

Twitter executives “would have been under enormous pressure to reconsider the ban” even if the company had not been acquired by Musk, said Swisher, who predicted the deal will “probably run Truth Social” and other nascent sites “out of business.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, predicted Trump would again have an outsized presence if he rejoined Twitter.

“It’s going to inject Trump back into the Republican mainstream,” said Sabato, who calls Trump “the worst thing to happen to American Democracy in my lifetime.” 

Sabato thinks Trump will likely use Twitter to overshadow other politicians, including current President Joe Biden, “who doesn’t fill the news hole” as Trump did.

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Karen North, founding director of the digital social media program at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, believes Trump would first give Truth Social a chance before returning to Twitter, if given the opportunity.

A key difference from Trump’s White House days is that his statements are no longer newsworthy by default. That creates questions for journalists on how much to amplify the former president’s comments, North said.

Trump “has surprising staying power,” she added, noting that some of the fascination may be the result of his diminished presence in daily news.

“People are still so curious and so polarized by him,” she said.

“He sells news.”

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Pinterest Launches Next Stage of Data Clean Rooms Trial with Wayfair



Pinterest Launches Next Stage of Data Clean Rooms Trial with Wayfair

Pinterest is launching the next stage of its data clean room trial, in conjunction with LiveRamp, with retailer Wayfair set to become the first business to incorporate the new process.

Pinterest originally announced its clean rooms partnership with LiveRamp back in January, as a means to counter the loss of insights as a result of Apple’s iOS 14 update, and other evolving privacy measures.

Data clean rooms ensure that any data used within the targeting and analytics process is not accessible by a third party, which enables comparable audience targeting to what brands are now accustomed to within social apps.

Wayfair will now become the first to test out the new process, which will provide insights into Wayfair customer actions in the app in a privacy-safe way.

As explained by Pinterest:

In this clean room pilot, Wayfair will get aggregated insight into performance of their ads on Pinterest, with LiveRamp’s privacy-centric data collaboration platform ensuring neither party has access to the other party’s identifiable customer data. Pinterest completed an integration with LiveRamp earlier this year that unlocks advanced analytics with configurable permissions and privacy controls for secure data collaboration.”

It could be a good way to improve your Pin targeting, based on your customer lists AND Pinterest info, which may enable more advanced segmentation and lookalike reach.

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Pinterest has also found that brands are seeing better results when combining data points, as opposed to using a single source in isolation, with advertisers that utilize more granular, interest-based targeting, combined with first-party customer lists, generally seeing significantly improved performance.

Data loss has been a major shift within the digital marketing sector over the past two years, with every platform working on solutions to maximize the insights that they do have, and improve engagement rates.

Clean rooms have emerged as a potential solution in some cases, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of results this new integration provides for Pinterest marketers.

You can read more about Pinterest’s data clean room trial here.

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The rivalry between Meta and Apple is moving to a new playing field: virtual reality



The rivalry between Meta and Apple is moving to a new playing field: virtual reality

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Months after Apple unveiled a privacy change that threatened Facebook’s core advertising business, the social networking company rebranded as Meta and shifted its focus to virtual reality.

Now, less than two years later, Apple may be threatening Meta’s business there, too.


on Monday unveiled its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, in one of its most ambitious product launches in years. At the kickoff of the company’s annual developer conference, Apple

CEO Tim Cook touted the Vision Pro, a $3,499 device that combines virtual reality and augmented reality, as a “revolutionary product,” with the potential to change how users interact with technology.

The new Apple product, set to launch early next year, puts Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has been building headsets for years.

On Thursday, just days before WWDC, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to preempt the expected Apple headset announcement by teasing the Meta Quest 3. The new headset promises improved performance, new mixed-reality features and a sleeker, more comfortable design, at a much more affordable price ($499).

Every period of consumer tech seems to be shaped by heated rivalries. Apple’s competition with Microsoft

was central to the early personal computing era. Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” against Google over smartphones. Now, Apple and Meta could be the defining rivalry of the VR/AR era.

The two companies had a tense relationship even before Apple’s entry into the market. They have competed over news and messaging features, and their CEOs have traded jabs over data privacy and app store policies. Last February, Meta said it expected to take a $10 billion hit in 2022 from Apple’s move to limit how apps like Facebook collect data for targeted ads.

But the rivalry appears poised to reach a new level.

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Meta has until now been the dominant player in the headset market. But virtual and augmented reality remains a nascent market with little mainstream consumer adoption. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Meta had just 200,000 active users in Horizon Worlds, its app for socializing in VR. And in 2023, IDC estimates just 10.1 million AR/VR headsets will ship globally from the entire market, far below the tens of millions of iPhones Apple sells each quarter.

Morgan Stanley analysts called Apple’s Vision Pro a “moonshot” effort following its announcement on Monday, saying the product “has the potential to become Apple’s next compute platform,” but that the company has “much to prove” before the headset’s launch next year.

“We’re always happy when more people join us in building the future,” Sheeva Slovan, a spokesperson for Meta’s Reality Labs unit, said in a statement to CNN.

Apple and Meta may end up racing to see not only who can get consumers to choose their product, but whether either of them can get millions of customers to buy into this new wave of technology at all.

Apple in many ways seems to have the upper hand, with its existing loyal customer base of more than two billion devices, impressive hardware chops and access to hundreds of stores where consumers can potentially try on the device.

“Everything up until this moment has kind of felt like the pregame for me, of preparing for this moment when Apple would take this to the public consciousness and let people know, hey, these technologies are for real, this isn’t just a gimmick,” Eric Alexander, founder of VR music experiences app Soundscape, told CNN following Apple’s announcement.

The iPhone maker also appears to be marketing its device differently. Apple chose not to focus on the term “virtual reality,” nor did it show off disembodied avatars without legs inhabiting a virtual world, as Meta did initially. Instead, Apple played up the headset’s potential to integrate much more seamlessly with users’ real-world lives through augmented reality, a technology that can overlay virtual objects on live video of the real world.

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“I don’t think Apple views itself in competition with Meta,” said Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester. Zuckerberg is “all in on this virtual world, and that’s not what Apple is about. Apple is saying, ‘We don’t think people want to be disconnected from the real world … we want to enhance the world that consumers are in.’”

The Quest 3 headset that Meta teased last week is also a mixed reality headset with AR capabilities, so it seems likely that Meta may veer closer to Apple’s approach in the future. However, a demo video Zuckerberg posted to Instagram seems to imply the device is still largely gaming focused.

Meta teased its new Quest 3 headset days before Apple's Vision Pro announcement.

Many analysts say that the biggest hurdle to consumer adoption of mixed reality headsets is ensuring that there is are a wide range of potential use cases and experiences available on the devices.

While Meta has introduced features that let users play games, explore virtual worlds, watch YouTube videos, workout, chat with friends and more, it has yet to convince most consumers that the device is worthwhile.

Apple’s announcement at WWDC seems targeted at ensuring that the large base of developers in its ecosystem will help create enticing new experiences for the device before its launch.

Developing new AR and VR apps requires significant investment, not to mention hands-on time with a device, Alexander said, so it may be a while before a wide range of experiences are available for the Vision Pro. The lack of controllers and other accessories could also make it difficult for developers to create certain types of apps, such as games, for the new device.

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Still, at the Monday event, Apple touted features from Disney, such as Disney+, and gaming company Unity, that will be available on the device from the start, on top of the iPhone maker’s existing suite of services.

Apple’s Vision One “isn’t a device that I will buy and think, ‘Oh, now I need to go buy content,’” said Forrester’s Ask. “This is a device that if I do buy it, it has a very intuitive interface … it’s a place I can watch my Apple TV and movies and all of those things. It’s not, ‘Oh, I bought this device now what do I do with it?’”

D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte compared the Vision Pro’s launch to the introduction of the iPhone following the Blackberry, an unfavorable comparison that would likely make Zuckerberg grimace. (Forte did note that Meta’s headset seems less likely to fade into irrelevance, as the Blackberry eventually did.)

“Blackberry had proven that there was a market for smartphones and had built a dominant position, but what it didn’t really do was the apps,” Forte said, adding that the iPhone introduced the idea of having a range of different use cases for one device. “In some regards, it’s like the iPhone where we’re going to need to see the ecosystem develop over time for this to succeed.”

But if Apple does succeed at driving widespread consumer adoption of mixed reality headsets, Meta could still benefit by extension by being the budget pick, Forte said.

Meta’s stock rose slightly Tuesday following Apple’s announcement.

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LinkedIn Experiments with New AI Assistant for InMails



LinkedIn Adds More Ad Targeting Criteria, Provides Tips for B2C Campaigns

Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is experimenting with yet another way to bring generative AI into the app, this time via an AI assistant in your LinkedIn inbox that’ll be able to provide quick answers to questions as you engage in your DMs.

As you can see in this screenshot, shared by app researcher Nima Owji, the new LinkedIn inbox assistant would be available via a dedicated icon in the UI, which would provide you with a generative AI assistant for your LinkedIn responses. That could make it easier to research key points, check spelling, get advice on conversational elements, etc.

The addition would expand on Microsoft’s growing generative AI empire, with the tech giant looking to use its partnership with OpenAI to incorporate ChatGPT-like tools into every surface that it can, which has already seen it add AI generated profile summaries, job descriptions, post creation prompts, and more into the LinkedIn experience.

LinkedIn also added generative AI messages for job candidates within its Recruiter platform last month.

It would also see LinkedIn finally follow up on its inbox assistant tool, which it actually first previewed back in 2016.

LinkedIn InBot

This slightly blurry image was lifted from a LinkedIn presentation seven years back, where LinkedIn previewed its coming ‘InBot’ option. InBot, powered in part by Microsoft’s evolving AI tools (at the time) was supposed to synch with your calendar, which would then enable it to automatically schedule meetings on your behalf, arrange phone calls, follow-ups, and more.

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But it never came to be. For whatever reason, LinkedIn abandoned the project shortly after this announcement – most likely because LinkedIn was looking to latch onto the short-lived messaging bots trend, which Meta believed would be a revolution in customer service. Till it wasn’t.

Because messaging bots never caught on, LinkedIn likely decided not to bother – though it is interesting that, even back then, shortly after Microsoft’s acquisition of the app, LinkedIn was already talking up the potential of merging Microsoft-powered AI tools into LinkedIn’s functions.

It’s taken a while for that to come to fruition, but soon, we may have a better version of InBot incoming, which would theoretically be able to incorporate these originally planned functions, along with more advanced generative AI responses and prompts.

That could actually be pretty valuable on LinkedIn, with various functions that could help you maximize your lead nurturing efforts, including immediately accessible info on the user that you’re interacting with, to personalize the exchange.

Of course, there is also a level of risk that the more AI tools LinkedIn adds, the less human the app will become, with users getting generative tools to come up with more posts, messages, profile summaries, and everything else in between over time.

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Eventually, that could see a lot of LinkedIn interactions becoming bots talking to other bots, while the real humans behind each account remain distant. Which would see more engagement happening in the app – and would certainly make for some interesting IRL meet-up scenarios as a result. But it does also seem like LinkedIn could, maybe, be overdoing it, depending on how all of these tools are integrated.

We’ll find out. There’s no timeline on a potential launch for the new AI chatbot tool as yet.

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