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Facebook’s Coming Projects will Make it a Bigger Part of Our Daily Lives – Is That a Good Thing?

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It seems a little strange that in a time where more questions are being raised about Facebook’s impact on the world, and how it uses people’s personal data insights to essentially amplify their fears and concerns, in order to drive engagement, that the company is also proposing that we incorporate more Facebook into more aspects of our daily life, with a view to a better future.

That, on the surface, doesn’t seem like the most logical connection, but that’s where we’re at, with new images being shared of Facebook’s coming smartwatch project, which will technically be a Meta project, not Facebook. If that makes much difference.

Facebook Smartwatch prototype

As you can see in this image, which was located in the back-end code of Facebook’s ‘View’ app for its Ray Ban Stories smartglasses, Facebook’s smartwatch will look very much like an Apple Watch, with the addition of a front-facing camera on the main screen.

As described by Bloomberg:

“The photo shows a watch with a screen and casing that’s slightly curved at the edges. The front-facing camera – similar to what you’d see on a smartphone – appears at the bottom of the display, and there’s a control button for the watch on the right side.”

That aligns with previous descriptions of Facebook’s smartwatch, with The Verge reporting back in June that the device will include two cameras, and will enable users to detach the watch face in order to take pictures and videos on the go.

“A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist.”

The image here and the description match up, while the project is also expected to incorporate Facebook’s evolving research into translating muscle movements from your wrist as a control tool in digital environments.

Which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was keen to show off in his Connect presentation this week.

Facebook wrist control

Which seems all good, all interesting, and definitely a less intrusive control device will be needed to maximize usage of the company’s coming AR and VR tools, because people won’t want to be slipping on VR gloves every time they want to do one of these things.

But again, there’s a question over whether Facebook – or Meta – should be trusted in this respect, and that we should believe that the company has learned its lessons from past mistakes that will enable it to host a far more immersive, and in that respect, far more harmful experience for users within this new digital plain.

Because while Facebook’s technological advances and presentations look great, and if it’s able to fulfill even most of the promise that it’s shown, that will definitely pique a lot of interest. Even so, as highlighted in the recent ‘Facebook Files’ disclosures, Facebook has major flaws in its systems, intentionally created or not, which will only be even more dangerous when they take up even more of your attention and mental space.

Take, for example, the report that Instagram is harmful for young girls – you’d have to imagine those harms would be amplified in a fully immersive social space. Of course, Meta will try to re-angle this by promoting the use of avatars instead of your real image, which will lessen the personal impacts of such process. But will it? People can still be targeted for different reasons, outside of physical traits, and if that’s happening in what is envisaged to become your key social space, that’ll have to have a more significant effect.

Part of the concern in this respect is Facebook’s enduring ‘glass half full’ perspective on its tools, which tech journalist Kara Swisher highlighted in an interview with Intelligencer earlier this week:

When they were debuting Facebook Live, I had a million questions about abuse. And they were like, “What are you talking about?” It was so typical. It wasn’t [Zuckerberg], but it was his people – people who were like him who just reflect him. They were like, “You’re such a bummer, Kara.” And I’m like, “Okay, I’m a bummer, I guess, but I think someone’s going to kill someone on this thing and broadcast it.” And it didn’t take long before there was a mass murder on it. The idea of consequences seems to escape them almost entirely because most of them have never had an unsafe day in their lives.”

This is typical of most of the company’s projects, with Facebook’s team looking to the amazing benefits, while often missing the potential harms and impacts that could also come as a result.

Zuckerberg himself reflected the same in a speech to Georgetown in 2019, in which he discussed the company’s approach to political expression, with respect to its decision not to remove comments made by political leaders.

I don’t think we need to lose our freedom of expression to realize how important it is. I think people understand and appreciate the voice they have now. At some fundamental level, I think most people believe in their fellow people too.

Despite years of issues with hate speech, abuse and misinformation, Zuckerberg still holds firm to this overarching belief, that people are fundamentally good, and therefore giving them more tools to connect can only also be a good thing.

Which we know is not universally the case, and that there does need to be guard rails and measures to limit misuse, in order to stop people from manipulating such systems. Which Facebook has been building over time, and may now be in a position to implement more effectively within the evolving metaverse space. But I wouldn’t bet on it, and I don’t know that I’d trust in Zuck and Co. to have thought through the full repercussions of more immersive engagement, given the platform’s history.

But that was Facebook, this is Meta. Right? The two are different, with the Meta branding opening up a new approach.

And now Facebook wants to be in your home, on your wrist, and overlaid onto your real-world perspective, and even becoming your whole interactive space, encapsulating more of your day-to-day experience, in more and more ways.

It looks great, and Zuckerberg’s presentation of the future of connection looks like it has huge potential. But is Facebook really ready to facilitate this next step?

Socialmediatoday.com

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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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Twitter Tests Expanded Emoji Reaction Options in DMs

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Twitter Tests Expanded Emoji Reaction Options in DMs

Twitter’s looking to give users a broader set of emoji reactions for their DMs, while also, potentially, enabling personalization of your quick reactions display in the app.

As you can see in these mock-ups, shared by Twitter designer Andrea Conway, Twitter’s testing a new search option within the reaction pop-up in DMs which would enable you to use any other emoji as a reaction to a message.

An extension of this would also be the capacity to update the reactions that are immediately displayed to whatever you choose.

Twitter DM reactions

It’s not a game-changer by any means, but it could provide more ways to interact via DMs, and with more interactions switching to messaging, and more private exchanges, it could be a way for Twitter to better lean into this trend, and facilitate a broader array of response options in-stream.

Twitter’s working on a range of updates as it looks to drive more engagement and usage, including tweet view counts, updated Bookmarks, a new ‘For You’ algorithm, and more. Elon Musk has said that he can envision Twitter reaching a billion users per month by next year, but for that to happen, the platform needs to update its systems to show people more of what they like, and keep them coming back – which is what all of these smaller updates, ideally, build to in a broader approach.

But that’s a pretty steep hill to climb.

Last week, Twitter reported that it’s now up to 253 million daily active users, an increase on the 238 million that it reported in July last year. Daily and monthly active usage is not directly comparable, of course, but when Twitter was reporting monthly actives, its peak was around 330 million, back in 2019.

Twitter MAU chart

As noted in the chart, Twitter switched from reporting monthly active users to daily actives in 2019, but looking at the two measurements, it’s hard to imagine that Twitter’s monthly active usage is any more than 100m over its current DAU stats.

That means that Twitter has likely never reached more than 350 million active users – yet Musk believes that he can best that by close to 200% in a matter of months.

Seems unlikely – even at current growth rates since Musk took over at the app, Twitter would only be looking at around 500 million users, optimistically, by the end of 2024.

If it can maintain that. More recent insight from Twitter has suggested that user activity has declined since those early post-Musk purchase highs – but maybe, through a range of updates and tweaks, there could be a way for Musk and Co. to maximize usage growth, beyond what seems possible, based on the stats.

We’ll find out, and as it pushes for that next level, you can expect to see more updates and tweaks like this, with enhanced engagement in mind.  



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