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Facebook Announces Official Timeline for Trump Ban, Changes to Rules Around Political Speech

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The door has been opened for former President Donald Trump to potentially return to Facebook, his key promotional platform of choice – though he will have to wait for two years (dating back to January 7th), and he will have to undergo an assessment to decide whether he should have his accounts reinstated.

The announcement comes as part of Facebook’s response to the latest ruling from its indepedent Oversight Board in relation to its decision to ban Trump back in January, in the wake the Capitol riot. Following the incident, in which Facebook says that Trump both instigated and incited the violent uprising via social media, The Social Network cut off Trump’s access to both Facebook and Instagram, a penalty that it’s maintained ever since.

Trump has been seeking to regain access to the platform, and his 32 million Facebook followers, and the Oversight Board afforded Trump an opportunity to share his perspective on the ban as part of its assessment process.

And now, Facebook has announced the next steps it will take in relation to the Oversight Board’s findings.

Here’s how Facebook’s rules around political leaders, and what they can share on Facebook, will change as a result.

First off, Facebook will now implement clearly defined penalties for suspensions, even those relating to significant incidents that could lead to broad-ranging social unrest.   

As explained by Facebook:

“The [Oversight Board] criticized the open-ended nature of [Trump’s] suspension, stating that “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.” The board instructed us to review the decision and respond in a way that is clear and proportionate, and made a number of recommendations on how to improve our policies and processes.”

Based on this, Facebook has now established a clear framework around future incidents, with escalating penalties of up to two years for the most significant violations.

Facebook penalties

Given the nature of the Trump ban, Facebook puts this incident in its ‘most severe’ category, meaning it garners the most significant penalty available. Hence, Trump is now banned for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7th.

But that doesn’t definitively mean that Trump will be able to start posting again on January 7th 2023:

“At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”

So Trump could return to Facebook in 2023, just in time for a re-election campaign, with the top job up again in 2024. But Facebook could also decide that he still poses a significant risk to public debate.

And going on Trump’s official response to today’s ruling, that seems like a strong possibility.

Trump response to Facebook

Despite it all, Trump is still pushing ahead with the ‘rigged election’ narrative, which is what sparked the Capitol riots in the first place. Given this, it seems like a very strong possibility that he may have trouble regaining Facebook access, even in 2023 – and without access to Facebook’s platform to push any potential re-election promotions and campaign material, that will be a big blow to Trump’s chances, if he were to seek re-election in the next period.

So while Trump could return to the platform in two years, it’s not a given that it will happen – in fact, right now, you’d have to think that won’t be much of a chance.

But the key point here is that Facebook has established clearer, more transparent rules around such, and what the maximum penalties will be from now on, which is critically important in ensuring clearer guidance around its official processes.

Furthering this, Facebook has also set down more specific parameters around what politicians can say on the platform, and how its rules will apply to public figures, which has been another point of contention.

Up till now, Facebook has allowed certain ‘newsworthy’ content that might otherwise violate its rules to remain up on its platform, in the interests of public debate and transparency.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended this approach in a speech to Georgetown in 2019, explaining that:

I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy. […] We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”

But now, Facebook is re-assessing this.

In line with the Oversight Board’s recommendations to establish clearer rules for all users, Facebook will now evaluate all content under the same parameters, even if it’s from a politician or public figure.

“We grant our newsworthiness allowance to a small number of posts on our platform. Moving forward, we will begin publishing the rare instances when we apply it. Finally, when we assess content for newsworthiness, we will not treat content posted by politicians any differently from content posted by anyone else. Instead, we will simply apply our newsworthiness balancing test in the same way to all content, measuring whether the public interest value of the content outweighs the potential risk of harm by leaving it up.”

There is some room for leniency here. As Facebook notes, it will still allow some exemptions under its ‘newsworthy content‘ provisions. But the rules will now be much clearer around such, and all users will essentially face the same penalties and restrictions.  

That’s a significant change in approach, but the idea here is that it will provide more transparency over the various assessments and decisions, ensuring that all users understand what’s acceptable, and what’s not, and what the penalties can be in each case.

Will that stop people from abusing the massive reach of Facebook’s platforms to spread divisive messaging, and maximize their own political interests?

No – in fact, if anything, the latest data suggests that more political regimes are now recognizing the potential of Facebook in this regard, and are using the platform for domestic influence campaigns.  

Facebook influence campaigns overview

It seems, in some ways, that the Trump campaign’s reliance on Facebook to expand its reach and messaging has shined a lot on this type of usage, which has lead to more, smaller-scale efforts to manipulate voters.

Facebook’s new rules will play a part in providing more transparency around such, but the stats indicate that this will be an ongoing concern, with Facebook’s unmatched reach providing a big lure for politically affiliated groups to boost their messaging. 

Facebook is also well-aware that these updates won’t address every concern:

“We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide – but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

In this respect, these are good changes, which reflect that Facebook’s independent board does indeed have significant influence on the company’s decisions, and will act as a valuable, outside voice in guiding its rules, even in the highest-profile cases.

Which has been a key concern around the Oversight Board, that essentially, it will be a ‘toothless tiger’, and that Facebook will simply ignore the rulings that it doesn’t like, in order to continue on as it always has.

But thus far, that hasn’t been the case. Facebook has tuned into its independent experts, and is working to align with their rulings, in almost all respects, providing much-needed input into its policy decision-making.

Because it shouldn’t come down to what Zuckerberg believes. At Facebook’s scale, it needs outside voices in the room.

And Facebook has, once again, reiterated that this should go even further:

“In the absence of frameworks agreed upon by democratically accountable lawmakers, the board’s model of independent and thoughtful deliberation is a strong one that ensures important decisions are made in as transparent and judicious a manner as possible. The Oversight Board is not a replacement for regulation, and we continue to call for thoughtful regulation in this space.”

Yes, social media platforms should be regulated, in relation to what can and cannot be posted, and Facebook itself advocates for this. In this respect, the Trump decision underlines the value of independent oversight, and why broader rulings like this should apply to all platforms, taking such decisions out of the hands of business managers who have a clear vested interest, and putting it under the guidance of elected officials.

That’s a more complex journey, but the process here points to the value of outside perspective.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

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Twitter Applies for US Licenses to Facilitate In-App Payments

Twitter has taken its next steps towards facilitating payments in the app, with The Financial Times reporting that the company has begun applying for regulatory licenses in US states, the next legal requirement for providing payment services in the app.

Payments, which Elon Musk has a long history in, could be another way for Twitter to generate revenue, by enabling transactions between users, from which it would then take a small percentage. Musk has repeatedly flagged his vision for payments as part of his broader push to make Twitter into an ‘everything app’, which would provide more functionality and usage benefits.  

As reported by FT:

In November, Twitter registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor, according to a regulatory filing. It has now also begun to apply for some of the state licenses it would need in order to launch, these people said. The remainder would be filed shortly, in the hope that US licensing was completed within a year, one of the people said.”

From there, Twitter would also look to establish agreements with international regulators to enable payments in all regions.

As noted, payments are a part of Elon’s broader plans for a more functional app, which would replicate the utility of China’s WeChat, which is used by Chinese citizens for everything from ordering groceries, to buying public transport tickets, to paying bills, etc. WeChat has become such a crucial connective element, that it formed a key part of China’s COVID response, with authorities using the app as a means to manage COVID positive citizens and restrict their movement.

Musk isn’t ideally looking to use Twitter as a control device (I don’t think), but the broader concept is to add in more and more functionality, in order to both generate more income for the company, and make the app a more critical element in the interactive landscape.

Twitter’s already exploring several options on this front.

Several app researchers have uncovered mock-ups for Twitter Coins in the back-end of the app.

Via Twitter coins, users would be able to make donations to creators in the app, through on-profile tipping, but beyond that, Twitter’s also exploring options like unlockable tweets, paywalled video, and more, as it seeks to embed broader usage and adoption of in-app payments.

A big opportunity also exists to facilitate remittance, or sending money to family and friends, which is a key use case in many regions. Remittance payment services often charge processing fees, and various social apps have been trying to find new ways to facilitate such without the same costs, with the idea being that once people are moving their money in-app, they’ll then be more likely to spend it in the same place.

Thus far, social platforms that do offer payments haven’t been able to embed this as a use case – but maybe, with Musk’s experience, knowledge and connections, he might be able to make this work in tweets.

Elon, of course, got his start in payments, with his first company, an online bank called X.com, being bought out by PayPal in 1999, his first big business win. And while his focus has since shifted to electric cars and rockets, Musk has keen understanding of the digital payments space, and how it can be adapted for varied usage.

According to reports, Musk told Twitter investors in May last year, that his aim was to see Twitter bring in about $1.3 billion in payment revenues by 2028.

That would give the company a sorely needed boost. After Musk’s cost-cutting efforts, which have resulted in the reduction of around 70% of Twitter staff, the company could be on track to potentially break even this year, or close, but a lot has to go right to get the platform back on track. And with advertisers continuing to back away from Twitter spend, it’s not looking good, while subscriptions to Twitter Blue are unlikely to provide much relief, at least at this stage.

As such, the shift into payments can’t come fast enough, though it’ll still be some time before we see the possibility of in-app payments.

Also, while Musk has made it clear fiat currency will be the main focus of this push in its initial phase, cryptocurrencies could also, eventually, be included. The price of Dogecoin, Musk’s favorite crypto offering, rose to a 24-hour high after news broke of Elon’s expanded payments plan.

Will payments be the answer to Twitter’s revenue woes? Maybe, if Elon’s vision for billions in payments revenue comes to fruition – and with his previous track record, you can’t dismiss the notion entirely.

But it’ll take time, many approvals, and many more steps before we reach the next stage.

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

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Social Responsibility And Ethics In Influencer Marketing

Chief Growth Officer (CGO) at HypeFactory, a global influencer marketing agency.

It’s no secret that influencer marketing popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years, and partnering with influencers isn’t a new concept. Just over the past year, the industry was valued at $16.4 billion and still keeps growing, with a whopping revenue forecast of $143.10 billion in 2030.

Since the beginning of influencer marketing, people have talked about how influencers and social responsibility fit together. It stands to reason that influential people would use their large fan bases to help others. However, when influencers and businesses collaborate, they each have specific responsibilities to the communities in which they operate.

Sponsorship Transparency And Gender Stereotypes

One of the most critical skills for an influencer is honesty. Influencers base their marketing strategy on being genuine and sharing personal tales and thoughts with their target audience. They are not celebrities living in a bubble of fame that very few of their followers will ever reach; instead, they live lifestyles that are reachable and use items that their viewers would find helpful. This approach has significantly contributed to their immense level of success.

However, many influencers don’t play by the rules, especially when it comes to impressing brands they’ve made deals with, even though transparency is essential to the sustainability of an influencer’s career. Because of this, many people would think that the most important ethical issue in influencer marketing is sponsorship disclosure.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the United Kingdom have all put out rules about how influencers should be honest in their posts and about their relationships with brands. If you disobey the regulations, you risk facing penalties, fines and legal bills. You also risk losing the trust of your customers for good.

Moreover, when doing influencer marketing, it’s essential to consider gender stereotypes and how people usually think men and women will act in different situations. The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) has said that since June 2019, marketing materials could no longer show men and women in ways that are based on stereotypes. These rules state that ads “must not use gender stereotypes that are likely to hurt or offend a large number of people.” Great campaigns, like Nike’s “Dream Crazier,” have challenged gender preconceptions.

Improving Influencer Marketing’s Reliability And Authenticity

Authenticity is essential in influencer marketing. People listen to influencers who are honest and relatable. In addition to the moral problems I mentioned above, brands and influencers must also follow FTC rules, community guidelines and terms of service on social media platforms.

Based on my experience as a chief growth officer at a global influencer marketing agency, here are some things brands must consider for influencer partnerships that are authentic and reliable.

Outline—and stick to—the ethical principles that your brand stands for.

Before you can begin your search for the ideal influencers, you must first understand the core principles of representing your business. Most businesses start by determining their values and ethics early on. They then use these to build their brand identity. It’s up to each company’s brand to decide where they will draw the line and how they will show their core values on social media.

However, consumers place a high value on consistent honesty. Customers are likely to call out your company for being hypocritical if it says it wants to fight racism but then partners with an influencer who has a history of making small slights against people of color. Or if your company promotes equal pay yet pays female influencers less than it does male influencers, contributing to the continuation of the pay gap between male and female influencers.

As a result, you will likely lose the trust of these customers.

Collaborate with real influencers.

One of the most effective ways to stick to influencer marketing principles is by collaborating with real-life influencers. Choosing the right influencers is crucial for building consumer confidence in your product.

Determine which influencers are authentic and have credibility with your intended audience. Specifically, it would be best to look at how many people engage with their content and how good it is. Even though engagement numbers are essential, they only tell part of the story about an influencer’s reliability. Please pay close attention to their writing style, the brands they’ve worked with, the accuracy of their reviews, etc.

Develop a long-term partnership.

When you’ve found a group of genuine, influential people with whom you can collaborate successfully, it’s crucial to keep in touch with them over time. Even if they are paid to review a product, genuine influencers always give honest opinions. Because they follow all the rules, the spectator can have more faith in them.

Consequently, after a shortlist of influencers has been compiled, you should perform authenticity checks. Check their content feed for branded articles. Make sure that any disclaimers you find adhere to the first point’s disclosure guidelines. Consistently partnering with the same influencers demonstrates to customers that you value their brand’s success just as much as they do, which can increase consumer confidence in your business.

Conclusion

Authenticity serves as the cornerstone of the influencer marketing strategy. Influencers earn the trust of their followers and become successful when they always provide high-quality, authentic, relatable content.

In addition to the concerns over the morality of influencer marketing, brands and influencers must follow the criteria established by the FTC and the community guidelines and terms of service based on social media platforms. You can shield your brand from potential ethical and legal difficulties and still enjoy success with influencer marketing if you are aware of the expectations and follow certain best practices.


Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

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Key Notes on Building Your Brand via Your Social Profile Visuals [Infographic]

Looking to give your social profiles a visual refresh for the new year?

This could help – the team from Giraffe Social Media recently put together an overview of the whys and hows of building your brand via your social profile visuals.

There are some good notes here – a key consideration is consistency, which ensures that you’re building your brand with every post and update.

Check out the full infographic below.

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