Facebook’s taking another step to reduce political content in user feeds by expanding access to its controls to switch off political promotions in your Ad Preferences.
In June last year, amid its planning for the upcoming US election, Facebook announced that users in the US would be able to turn off all social issue, electoral or political ads, in order to avoid the expected onslaught of campaign messaging in the feed.
As you can see, these prompts don’t say you can switch off these promotions entirely, but you can opt to ‘see fewer of them’, which, according to Facebook, largely eliminates political ads from your feed.
And now, almost four months out from the divisive presidential poll, Facebook has announced that these same controls will be made available to users around with world, giving more people more capacity to distance themselves from political content in their News Feeds.
As explained by Facebook:
“Starting today, the control that allows people to see fewer social issue, electoral and political ads is now available in more than 90 countries where advertisers are required to get authorized and add “Paid for by” disclaimers to run these ads on our platform. People have told us they want the option to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram, so now more people around the world can make that choice.”
This comes after Facebook also recently announced that it’s looking to reduce political content overall in people’s feeds, in response to rising user feedback.
“One common piece of feedback we hear is that people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed. Over the next few months, we’ll work to better understand peoples’ varied preferences for political content and test a number of approaches based on those insights.”
Clearly, the backlash here is real, which could see a significant shift at The Social Network. And that could be good for societal engagement more broadly.
Of course, it’s difficult to gauge the full impacts of political content on Facebook, and its positive or negative impacts. That’s actually why Facebook’s recent news ban in Australia was so interesting – while Facebook only held its news ban in place for a week, the move could have provided an interesting case study into what happens to Facebook if news content is no longer available.
Do people use the platform less? Do they engage with friends and family more? Does the removal of news make Facebook a better place to interact?
On balance, it’s not that simple. While, as an experiment, the Facebook news ban looked interesting, many publishers also lost huge amounts of referral traffic as a result of Facebook’s decision to cut them off, so it’s obviously better for them to have the platform back. But still, I’d love to see Facebook’s internal usage stats for those few days that news wasn’t available in AUS, and to get an idea of what it actually meant for the platform.
Instead, we’ll have to settle for seeing what happens when users switch off political ads, and Facebook looks to reduce political content in feeds. I’d imagine Facebook already has some good data on this, via its various tests, but the added capacity for more people to switch off political ads will provide more insight, and could, ideally, make Facebook a better place to engage and interact once again.
Or maybe it won’t. People have to opt-in to this, which likely means that most won’t bother, while there’s no guarantee that removing political content from feeds will actually improve the experience. But Facebook clearly sees merit in the concept – and hopefully we can get some data from The Social Network as to how these tests and tools are working, and what will mean for Facebook moving forward.
And from a marketing perspective, less political content means less competition for both ads and organic posts. That could be a positive for your promotional efforts.
Twitter Adds New Spaces Recording and Management Tools as it Continues to Focus on Audio Options
I remain unconvinced that Twitter Spaces will ever become a thing, but Twitter itself seems certain that there’s major growth potential there, as evidenced by its continued push to add more elements to its Spaces offering, in order to lure more listeners across to its Spaces tab, and maximize listenership within its audio broadcasts.
This week, Twitter has rolled out another set of Spaces updates, including permanent recordings (as opposed to them deleting after 30 days), the capacity to save recordings after broadcast, and new details within the Spaces bar at the top of the app.
First off, on permanent recordings – after initially launching its Spaces recording feature to all users back in January, Twitter is now extending the life of those recordings beyond the initial 30 day period.
now your Spaces recordings will live as long as you want them to! starting today, hosts on Android are able to host a Space that lasts indefinitely
iOS is coming up next!
— Spaces (@TwitterSpaces) June 30, 2022
That’ll provide more capacity to attract listeners over the longer term, and keep your conversations alive in the app.
In addition to this, Twitter’s also adding a new listing of your recorded Spaces within your app settings menu, where you’ll be able to play each session back, delete those that you don’t want to keep, or share a recording direct from the list.
That’ll enhance the functional value of Spaces chats, making them more podcast-like, and more of a vehicle for ongoing promotion and audience building – though it does seem to also maybe go against what made audio platforms like Clubhouse so attractive to begin with, in that they were live, in-the-moment chats that you had to be there to catch.
But podcasts is clearly more of the angle that Twitter’s now going for, based on these example screens of another new test in the back end of the app.
As you can see in these images (shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi), Twitter’s also developing ‘Stations’ within the Spaces tab, which would incorporate podcasts into its audio stream, providing even more options for tuning into on-demand audio content within the app.
That could make Spaces recordings even more valuable, and potentially help Spaces broadcasters translate their work into a monetizable podcast process – but do Twitter users really want to tune into podcasts from the app? I mean, we have Spoitify and Apple Podcasts and various other options available.
Could Twitter really become a key hub for audio content like this?
In some ways, it seems unnecessary, but then again, the real-time nature of tweets lends itself to topical discussion, and that could make it a good hub for all of these types of discussions and content, including Spaces, Spaces recordings, podcasts, etc.
And again, that would better facilitate connection between Spaces and recorded audio. It just depends on whether Twitter users will actually come to rely on the app for their latest podcast content.
On another front, Twitter will now also enable iOS users to record a Space when the broadcast is over, even if they didn’t hit ‘Record’ during the session.
Which also means that the ‘REC’ marker would not have been present during the session, alerting participants to the fact that this was being recorded, which could be problematic for some contributors.
In some ways, it seems like Twitter didn’t offer these options initially because it thought that it wouldn’t be able to facilitate the data storage required to keep all of the many recordings in its data banks, but now, with so few people broadcasting, it’s maybe found that this won’t actually be a problem.
A sort of ‘glass half full’ element, I guess.
Finally, Twitter’s also adding new details into the Spaces bar on Android, including additional, scrolling insights into who’s hosting, the topics being discussed, who’s shared a Tweet in the chat and more.
That could entice more users into the session – or at the least, bring even more attention to the Spaces bar at the top of the app by providing more, bigger info.
Though again, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like Spaces is really catching on, going on the participant numbers in the Spaces stream. And while the addition of podcasts could be interesting, I don’t see Twitter becoming a key app for audio content, especially as the Clubhouse-led audio trend continues to die down.
But maybe the engagement numbers are better than it seems. I mean, you’d have to assume that they are, given Twitter’s ongoing investment in the functionality – through Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal did note last month, that the company had not hit intermediate milestones on its growth plans, based on its investment in new functionalities like Spaces, Communities and Twitter Blue.
Twitter hasn’t shared specific data, so maybe there’s more to it, and that’s why it’s so keen to push ahead with more Spaces tools. But either way, it’s giving it its best opportunity to succeed, and it’s seemingly not done yet with its Spaces development.
Will that, eventually, result in Spaces becoming a thing? Only time will tell.
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