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Facebook to Face Heavy Fines for Allowing Young Users to Sign-Up to its Platforms Under Proposed Australian Law

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The Australian Government will consider a new bill that would force social media companies to obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16, of face hefty fines if caught.

Which seems largely impossible to enforce effectively, but the draft legislation outlines that social media apps would be required to “take all reasonable steps to determine users’ ages and prioritize children’s interests when collecting data”.

That leaves a lot of wriggle room, as ‘reasonable’ in this context seems fairly broad. But nevertheless, the new enforcement initiative could boost Australia’s social media regulations, and make it one of the most stringent regions for age control in the world, if enacted.

As per Reuters:

“The new law would raise penalties for any breaches of the code, with fines of either 10% of the company’s domestic annual turnover, three times the financial benefit of the breach or A$10 million ($7.5 million). The current maximum fine is A$2.1 million.”

The move comes in the wake of recent reports, based on Facebook’s own research, which show that Instagram can have significant mental health impacts for young users, a finding which various other independent studies have also deduced.

Facebook has refuted such claims, noting that the research referred to was only based on responses from 40 users, and was not be used as a broadly indicative measure. But still, amid the broader narrative that Facebook prioritizes growth, often above all else, it’s not a great look for The Social Network, and it could see more regulatory initiatives like this gain more momentum over the coming months.

Which could have a big impact on how Facebook, and social media platforms more broadly, operate. If social apps are forced to implement more stringent measures, under threat of such heavy fines, each will need to reassess the viability of their apps in these markets, which could even see some removed from certain regions.

To be clear, neither Facebook nor any other platform hasn’t gone this far as yet, but Facebook did deactivate news Pages entirely on its platform earlier in the year, in response to another Australian Government initiative, and if the regulations around what “take all reasonable steps” means in this context actually add more complexity to enforcement efforts than they’re worth, we could, again, see some companies considering the removal certain elements to avoid any risk.

In a broader sense, it’ll also be interesting to see the actual details of the Australian proposal, and how they may be applied in other regions. Governments and regulators around the world are now looking at Facebook, and its impacts, with the latest insights into its effects now available for all to see.

Will that lead to stricter regulation?

I mean, the real question is ‘what’s the alternative?’ It’s one thing to say ‘Facebook’s bad, someone should do something about it’, and another to actually enact effective rules.

Which, again, is why proposals like this are interesting, in that they put Facebook’s policies and processes to the test. And while most of these pushes end up petering out or merging into a less impactful settlement, the momentum does seem to be swaying more heavily against The Social Network in such decisions.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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