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Facebook Plans for Post-Election Concerns in the US, Explores New Option for Combating Viral Misinformation



2020 has been a year like no other, and we still have a fair way to go in what could become an even more unpredictable roller coaster ride of emotions, issues and challenges.

A key concern in this respect is the upcoming US Election. This week, Joe Biden officially accepted his nomination as the Democratic nominee for the election, pitting him against current US President Donald Trump, in what’s likely to be one of the most divisive and provocative campaigns in history. 

Social media is likely to play a key role in this. After the Trump campaign essentially weaponized social platforms in the 2016 campaign, and foreign actors sought to interfere with the result through mass-manipulation efforts, much focus has been put on how Facebook and Twitter, in particular, will respond to such this time around. Those results have been mixed – and now, as the election draws ever-near, we’re seeing even more initiatives proposed that could have an impact on the eventual election result, or, indeed, its aftermath.

Here’s a look at the latest social platform updates related to the US Presidential Election.

Facebook Considers New Virality Signal in Slowing the Spread of Misinformation

First off, Facebook has this week said that it’s looking at a new way to detect viral misinformation before it gains significant traction by prioritizing reviews of viral content earlier, as it starts to gain momentum.

As reported by Casey Newton in The Interface:

“Facebook already shares information about the virality of new articles on the platform with its fact-checking partners, who use that data to help determine which articles to check first. [A new report] asks whether the company itself might want to set thresholds at which its own teams evaluate the content for community standards. If a video on Facebook gets 5 million views in an hour, shouldn’t someone at Facebook take a look at it?”

Essentially, the proposal, which Newton says Facebook is investigating, would see Facebook using share velocity as a key indicator in determining which posts should be reviewed for potential rule violations, which could stop viral misinformation from gaining mass-traction.

As as example of the problem, a recent video posted by Breitbart, which included a range of ‘health professionals’ criticizing official health advice around COVID-19, was viewed by millions of users on Facebook before the platform took it down. Facebook has been working hard to tackle COVID-19 misinformation, so it was somewhat surprising that the video was able to gain such traction before Facebook moved to address it.

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This new proposal would theoretically help, in that it would mean that Facebook, by using share momentum as an indicator, would have reviewed and assessed the content faster, stopping its viral spread.

Which sounds good – but then again, why doesn’t Facebook already do this?

It seems crazy that Facebook, with all of its data and algorithms, all of the technical tools at its disposal, has never once thought to be like: “hey, maybe we should ensure we’re reviewing highly shared stuff before anything else”.

Of course, in reality, it probably has – which then raises the question as to why it wouldn’t have actioned such. Could it be that Facebook would actually prefer not to slow the spread of viral content, which brings more people to the platform, sparks more sharing, boosts engagement, etc.?

Such content is damaging, and it’s good to see Facebook considering more ways to address it. But the proposal itself raises questions about Facebook’s capacity – or willingness – to handle such within its process.

Facebook Explores Measures in Case Trump Disputes Election Result

Another interesting development, as reported by The New York Times, is that Facebook is exploring measures it might take in case President Trump decides not to accept the results of the 2020 election.

Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the integrity of the voting process, has thus far avoided questions about whether he will accept the final result, given his concerns about the poll’s accuracy. Of course, if Trump wins, you can bet that he’ll be more than happy to hug the American flag and accept the praise. But if Trump loses, what then?

Facebook, and other social platforms, are now concerned that they could be used by Trump to spread misinformation about the result, which could lead to civil unrest. 

As per NYT:

Facebook is preparing steps to take should Mr. Trump wrongly claim on the site that he won another four-year term, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Facebook is also working through how it might act if Mr. Trump tries to invalidate the results by declaring that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots or that other groups meddled with the vote, the people said.” 

One of Facebook’s ideas involves a “kill switch”, which would shut off political advertising after Election Day, thereby reducing the possibility of ads being used at scale to share misleading information about the result.   

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Which is interesting, considering that Facebook’s stance right now is that politicians are essentially allowed to spread lies through Facebook ads, as they’re not subjected to fact checks.

So, lies in political ads are not damaging now, but they could be such a concern after the fact that they need to be halted completely?

It seems odd, but it does make some sense. Facebook won’t ban political ads right now, because it believes that doing so would only benefit the big players, while smaller politicians, who can use Facebook’s targeting options to reach more specific audiences at low cost, would lose that opportunity. The same principle applies after the result – the only people who stand to benefit from continuing to advertise after the campaign are the big players who can afford to do so, while smaller politicians will likely have stopped their spend by then.

As such, the move would be in line with Facebook’s broader stance on political advertising – but it does raise some significant concerns about the potential for dispute, and conflict, following the election result.

And while social platforms might be able to limit the reach of such messaging, the fact that this is now a real concern that they are considering is, in itself, a major problem.

As noted, 2020 could get a lot more unpredictable yet.

Trump Bans WeChat

And then there’s the ongoing discussion around the banning of Chinese originated apps, which has been dominated by the proposal to ban TikTok, or see it sold off to a US company.

But another social media-related impact within this is the potential ban of Chinese messaging app WeChat, which is hugely popular among Chinese expats, and would also be subject to a restriction under the Trump administration’s proposals.

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WeChat, which has more than a billion active users, plays a key role in connecting many Chinese citizens to various functionalities, including paying bills, buying train tickets, shopping, etc. The app is not as widely used outside of China, though many businesses in many regions do facilitate the use of the app in making payments – and again, many Chinese expats, in particular, stay connected with family through the app.

Yet, even though usage outside China is comparatively low, a ban on the app could have major implications.

A key question right now is whether a ban in the US would mean that Apple and Google would then be disallowed from carrying the app in their global app stores, outside of the U.S. If they can’t, that could make it much harder for WeChat to grow, which would set up a new, and potentially significant dispute between the US and China. 

The Trump administration appears to now be suggesting that any ban would only relate to the US, and that even US owned companies would be able to continue using WeChat outside of America. 

That makes sense, but the expanded impacts of the proposal once again underline the complexity of such moves, and the broad-reaching effects that such decisions can have on how web-based properties work. 

For years we’ve been accelerating towards a more globally connected society, but now it seems we’re pulling back. That could be very difficult to enact, and could, as noted, lead to more global tension.

It’s amazing to consider the significance of the role that social media now plays in our everyday lives, which is represented in updates like these, where social platforms are now central to global political shifts. No one would have predicted such back when we were updating our MySpace ‘Top 8’, but this is where we are, and it’ll be interesting to see how things play out, and what role social platforms play in the next stage.

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]



5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]

Is influencer marketing part of your digital marketing strategy for 2022?

With the rise of more creative, more native-aligned platforms and spaces, brands are increasingly relying on influencers to connect with new audiences, while the growing use of AR and other new technologies also necessitates a familiarity with platforms that takes time and knowledge to maximize.

Influencers can be a great avenue in streamlining such process, but you have to know your audience, and what kinds of influencers they’re tuning into, in order to get the most out of your influencer marketing efforts.

To provide some more context on this, the team from SocialPubli has put together this overview of five key influencer marketing trends of note for 2022. And while these notes won’t address all of the info you need, they could help you formulate a better outreach strategy, based on the latest trends and shifts within the creator space.

Check out the full infographic listing below.

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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement



Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement

Twitter has published a new range of industry reports, based on rising trends, in order to provide more context as to the key elements of focus among its userbase in each sector.

The new trend reports, which Twitter’s collectively calling its ‘Birdseye Report’, were compiled by Twitter data partners, including Hootsuite, Meltwater, Sprinklr and more. Each partner took on a specific element of expanded Twitter conversation, giving each discussion and industry dedicated focus, providing in-depth insight into the latest key shifts in the app.

You can download all the Birdseye Reports here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key highlights.

First off, the reports are based on a range of key tweet trends over the past year.

Those trends include:

  • Digital First – Digital Ethics, Cyber Individuality and Metaverse dominated the technology conversation on Twitter
  • The Crypto Craze – “Crypto” mentions on Twitter increased 549% in 2021
  • Future of Sports – Tweets around the metaverse + sports rose 6,024%
  • Bring the Sweets Back – Conversations around nostalgia for sweets, chocolate and candy grew 55% between January and October 2021
  • Mental Health Matters – Monthly “mental health” mentions from 2019 to 2021 on Twitter grew 44.7%

As you can see here, you can select the specific sector report you want to read, all of which are available via email sign-up – though you can select not to have Twitter or the providing company contact you as a result of your interest.

Each report covers the top trends in each sector, based on tweet discussion, which points to rising areas of opportunity and focus for your tweet marketing.

Twitter Birdseye Report

As you can see here, the reports include both broad trend results, like these, highlighting bigger shifts in each sector, as well as more specific tweet engagement shifts, relative to key focus elements.

Twitter Birdseye Report

Those insights could help to shape your marketing approach, while each report also includes a range of more in-depth pointers and data points to help guide your understanding of what the Twitter audiences is most interested in. 

Twitter Birdseye Report

There are also demographic insights: 

Twitter Birdseye Report

As well as summary points for each, helping to ensure marketers can make the most of each report:

Twitter Birdseye Report

There’s a heap of great insight here, and if you’re working in any of the highlighted sectors, and are looking to improve your Twitter approach, it’s definitely worth downloading the data and checking out the findings.

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Even if you’re not looking to improve your Twitter strategy, it’s likely worth getting access to the insights and seeing what people are most interested in for each segment.

You can download all the Twitter Birdseye reports here.

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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok



92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok

Fame at 92: Malawian music legend Giddes Chalamanda has notched up millions of views on TikTok – Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

Jack McBrams

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

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Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

– ‘Dance around the world’ –

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

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Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”

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