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FBI investigating TikTok school shooting threat

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FBI investigating TikTok school shooting threat


A vigil in Oxford, Michigan to honor the four students killed in a shooting at Oxford High School on November 30, 2021 – Copyright AFP/File ALI BURAFI

The FBI said that it was investigating a school shooting threat on the popular social media platform TikTok as schools across the country sent alerts to parents Friday.

School districts and law enforcement downplayed the credibility of the “school shooting challenge” video which circulated on TikTok claiming there would be multiple school gun attacks and bombings around the country on Friday.

But many sent out notices to parents, as the threat came less than three weeks after the latest mass shooting in a US high school left four students dead in Oxford, Michigan. 

“There is information circulating that today may be a day of attacks on schools. Administration and DC Police are very aware of this and on close watch,” a message sent to parents by a school in Takoma Park in Washington said.

The Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania told parents that there would be an increased police presence around school buildings even though they “do not believe the threat to be credible.”  

TikTok said it was investigating, even as it appeared to distance itself from the video that appeared on its platform.

“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools,” the company said in a statement.

“Even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” it added. 

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was examining the threat.

“The FBI takes all potential threats seriously. We regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats,” it said in a statement.

TikTok, one of the most popular social media services with school-aged children, has already come under fire for allowing the posting of short videos challenging people to risky, damaging and illegal acts.

Earlier this year the viral “Devious Licks” challenge video encouraged students to vandalize bathrooms at schools and make copycat TikTok videos of it.

That led to numerous cases of mostly very minor destruction of school property around the country.

At the time TikTok said it was taking action to remove videos and minimize their spread “to discourage such behavior.”

The Everytown for Gun Safety group has tallied at least 149 school shootings so far this year, with 32 deaths and 94 injuries.

Sandy Hook Promise, a group formed in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, condemned the TikTok video.

“A national TikTok challenge promotes school shootings on December 17. Gun violence is not a subject for jokes or pranks. All threats need to be taken seriously,” they said in a statement.



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Twitter Updates Video Playback in the New Version of TweetDeck

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Twitter Updates Video Playback in the New Version of TweetDeck


Twitter has added another element to the preview version of the next stage of TweetDeck, which will now enable users to expand and watch video clips from a TweetDeck column as they continue to use the app.

As you can see in this example, now, when you click to play a video clip, it will stay docked at the bottom of your window if you scroll past, so you can keep watching while you check out the latest tweets in your streams.

You’ll also be able to undock the video playback, pin it to another location or dismiss the video, while the playback will also continue even if you switch decks, or remove the column that it came from entirely.

It’s the latest addition to the growing feature base in the updated TweetDeck, which Twitter first launched last July, and is still in invite-only Preview mode.  Selected users in the US, Canada and Australia can access the new format, though you can also get a sense of the new functions by temporarily gaining access by editing the HTML code on the site.

The updated version of the tweet management platform includes improved column creation, ‘Decks’ for building multiple dashboards in the app, updated tweet presentation, so you can see how your tweets will look before they go live, list discovery, DM management and more.

It’s a better-looking, better functioning version of TweetDeck, and given it’s now been in testing for six months, it seems likely that it will soon become the default version of the platform, available to all users.

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Though Twitter could also look to monetize it.

I mean, Hootsuite has over 200,000 paying users, and how many of them are utilizing its platform just to schedule tweets? If Twitter went the same route, and charged businesses a small fee for access to TweetDeck, along with additional enhanced tools, and ideally, updated tweet analytics, I suspect many would indeed pay, adding another revenue pathway for the company.

And with Twitter still working on subscription models and other revenue generation options, it could be a more viable pathway than, say, Twitter Blue, which hasn’t become a major winner as yet.

To be clear, Twitter has directly suggested that it might look to monetize TweetDeck, as such, though Twitter Product Chief Kayvon Beykpour, did make this comment on the launch of the TweetDeck Preview test last July:

“Through these tests, we’re exploring how we can give people more customization and control using TweetDeck. We want to get feedback on how we can expand TweetDeck’s offerings for those who use it the most. We’ll take these lessons into account as we explore what TweetDeck could look like within Twitter’s subscription offerings later on. We’ll have more to share soon as we learn from these tests.”

So Twitter has, at the least, considered the potential in this respect, and if it is looking to significantly enhance the tool, and add in advanced analytics, especially following the removal of its Audience Insights element from Twitter Analytics in 2020, then again, I would suggest that many brands would indeed pay.

There are valuable tools that Twitter could build in, based on existing third-party tweet analytics options, which could make it worth any extra cost, and brands would be keen to track more data if it becomes available.

See also  TikTok updates policies to ban deepfakes, expand fact-checks, and flag election misinfo

There are no new analytics elements in the TweetDeck Preview as yet, but it does seem like an area of potential as Twitter continues to evolve the tool.





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Twitter Adds New Data Tracking Options to Ad Manager, New Overview of Tag Events

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Twitter Adds New Data Tracking Options to Ad Manager, New Overview of Tag Events


Twitter has announced some new updates to its ad platform which are designed to streamline ad targeting, while also providing more insights on campaign performance.

First off, Twitter’s changing the name of its ‘Website Clicks & Conversions’ objective to ‘Website Traffic’, a more generalized header, which will now also include a new ‘Site Visits Optimization’ goal within your available campaign objectives.

As you can see here, now, when setting up a Website Traffic campaign, you’ll be able to use ‘Site visits’ as the goal, which will then direct Twitter’s system to serve your ads to audiences most likely to visit your website.

“By enabling the Twitter Website Tag, Twitter is able to track actions that audiences take on an advertiser’s website and attribute them to their Twitter ads campaigns.”

That will then enable Twitter’s systems to better determine audience objectives, and present your ads to the right users. Twitter says that it’s seen strong results with site visits in testing, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the new goal generates better direct response to your promoted tweets.

In addition to this, Twitter’s also adding a new aggregated view of site metrics and conversion events within Twitter Ads Manager, which Twitter’s adding as a means to counter data loss as a result of Apple’s ATT update, and more users opting out of in-app tracking.

The process will utilize data gathered via Twitter’s website tag to provide a generalized estimate of key metrics, by Ad Group, at campaign level, by device type (iOS or Android), and placement-level, where possible.

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The data obviously won’t be as accurate as you would get from direct reporting via the Twitter tag on each user response, but by providing some insight into user actions, Twitter will be able to replace a level of indicative insight that’s been lost due to the iOS change.

And finally, Twitter’s adding a new ‘Events Manager’ dashboard to manage your Twitter Website Tag and its associated web-based conversion events.

Twitter ads update

As you can see here, the new Events Manager overview will provide in-depth insight on tag events, enabling you to better track and utilize the data being gathered from your site visitors.

These are handy updates, more focused on advanced Twitter marketers, but facilitating new levels of ad performance insight, which could help to maximize your ad results. And while aggregated data is no replacement for direct attribution, in the wake of Apple’s ATT update, marketers need to work with what they can, and these supplemental insights will help to provide more guidance in your approach.

You can read more about Twitter’s new ad platform updates here.





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YouTube Outlines Key Areas of Growth, Including the Rise of Shorts and its Expanding Creator Economy

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YouTube Outlines Key Areas of Growth, Including the Rise of Shorts and its Expanding Creator Economy


While TikTok continues to rise, and other platforms eat into the digital video market, YouTube remains the overall leader in the space. And based on its current strategic planning and growth, it looks set to stay that way for some time to come.

Today, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has shared an overview of the platform’s key areas of focus for 2022, and where it sees new opportunities, which points to some interesting developments in the platform’s roadmap, and for online video more broadly.

Key elements of focus for YouTube include Shorts, its TikTok-like short video platform, which YouTube reports has now hit 5 trillion all-time views, underlining the potential of the format.

TikTok has become a key focus for YouTube, as it seeks to maintain its position as the online video leader. And while YouTube clearly remains the key app for longer content, TikTok’s burgeoning audience does pose a threat to its ongoing growth.

Which is why Wojcicki is also keen to highlight another key element:

“The number of channels around the world making more than $10,000 a year is up 40% year over year [while] YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 800,000 jobs in 2020.”

There is a lot more potential for creators to make a lot more money on YouTube, as opposed to TikTok, which YouTube star Hank Green recently highlighted in a new video clip, in which he called on TikTok creators to band together to request a bigger slice of the platform’s growing revenue pie.

That call is already seeing some traction among high-profile users, and eventually, that could help to solidify YouTube’s position as the place to be for creators to monetize.

See also  TikTok updates policies to ban deepfakes, expand fact-checks, and flag election misinfo

Which is a key benefit that Wojcicki wants to highlight:

Now there are 10 ways for creators to make money on YouTube. Last year, YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times.

That last point is also important – amid the ongoing rise of digital goods, and in particular NFTs, there are new opportunities for platforms to lean into the trend, and provide more ways to users to showcase their digital item purchases.

Twitter launched its NFT profile display option last week, and Instagram and Reddit are working on their own variations of the same.

YouTube is also exploring its NFT options:

“The past year in the world of crypto, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and even decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) has highlighted a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans. We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube.

How that would work, it’s hard to say, but it seems that NFTs, whether you like them or not, are set to become a bigger element in the broader social media sphere.

Wojcicki also addressed the controversy around YouTube’s decision to remove dislike counts on clips, which has been widely criticized in some circles.

“We saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment. So we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.

So while some users may find the removal annoying, and may want dislikes back, Wojcicki says that the overall impact has been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s unlikely to reverse course on its decision, at least at this stage.

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Wojcicki also outlined evolving system developments, including advances in user safety tools and creator reporting functions, and the platform’s ongoing efforts to work with governments on new regulatory proposals, including the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Article 17 in the EU.

It’s a solid update, which underlines YouTube’s enduring strength, as it solidifies market share and becomes an even bigger connective element for users, through various means.

And YouTube clearly is in a strong position, even as potential rivals gain traction. Yes, TikTok is the app of the moment, while Facebook may have more overall users. But YouTube’s established frameworks and creator partnerships look set to keep it in the top spot for online video for some time to come.

There’s a reason why YouTube recently shut down its Originals initiative in order to put more focus on creator funding. And that could reap big benefits for the platform throughout the coming year.

You can read Susan Wojcicki’s full overview for YouTube in 2022 here.





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