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Google Looks to Maximize its eCommerce Appeal with New Video Review and Shopping Platform

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With Facebook set to significantly advance its eCommerce ambitions via its new Facebook and Instagram shops, Google is also looking to ensure it maintains its online shopping stake with a new product showcase platform that aims to tap into the rising popularity of short-form video – with Instagram, specifically, in its sights.

As you can see in the video, Google’s new ‘Shoploop‘ app enables people to share their experiences with products via video short video clips.

As per Google:

The experience on Shoploop is more interactive than just scrolling through images, titles and descriptions on a traditional e-commerce site. All Shoploop videos are shorter than 90 seconds and help you discover new products in an entertaining way, whether you want to try at-home nail stickersrevive your second-day hair or get a concealer that gives full coverage.”

Shoploop

The actual format of Shoploop is more akin to Twitter, with users able to scroll through a feed of posts in various categories.

“Once you find a product that interests you, you can either save the product to buy it later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. You can also follow your favorite Shoploop creators and share videos you like with your friends and family.”

What’s particularly interesting, though, is that Shoploop isn’t actually an app, at least not in a traditional sense.

Created by Google’s experimental Area 420 team, Shoploop is currently only available via mobile web, by visiting shoploop.app. That means users don’t need to download a new app, they can simply log on via their mobile web browser. That could increase usage, as it doesn’t require users to seek out a new app, but it may also have some limitations without a defined ‘home’ for people to tap on to when they’re looking to shop.

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As noted, the platform is the latest in Google’s effort to maximize its own eCommerce potential, which its been ramping up development of in response to increased online shopping engagement during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Back in April, Google made listings in Google Shopping available for free, expanding its pool of products, and building on its updated Google Shopping app that it launched last October. Google has also added a range of new product and services listing options, in both search ads and Google My Business profiles, in order to better promote delivery and sale options, and help businesses maximize eCommerce opportunities.

Google product listings

With Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat all looking to boost their on-platform shopping options, Google remains in a strong position on this front, as it already has access to a comprehensive database of available product listings, and it’s still the leader in search, and where many people first turn to get more information.

As such, Google can provide more product comparisons, more price data – Google will likely be able to maintain a hold on a significant share of eCommerce search activity by effectively tapping into the data tools it already has in search. 

Then it just needs to ensure it provides engaging options, similar to social apps, that will keep shoppers aligned with it. And while Shopaloop faces an uphill battle to catch up with the engagement levels of these other social apps, it may give Google another way into the market, and another option to broaden its eCommerce offerings.

I don’t like its chances, but I do like the concept. It seems like a valuable, helpful option, which could potentially catch on, especially if Google looks to promote it in related search results.

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As a vehicle for brand and product promotion, Google says that Shoploop is currently focused on:

“Content creators, publishers and online store owners in the beauty industry in categories such as makeup, skincare, hair and nails. Our goal is to provide them a platform where they can review and recommend products and help others shop directly from their videos.”

If you’re a content creator or a store owner in any of these product areas, you can apply to become an exclusive Shoploop creator.   

You can check out Shoploop on mobile here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta’s Developing and ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers

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Meta's Developing and 'Ethical Framework' for the Use of Virtual Influencers


With the rise of digital avatars, and indeed, fully digital characters that have evolved into genuine social media influencers in their own right, online platforms now have an obligation to establish clear markers as to what’s real and what’s not, and how such creations can be used in their apps.

The coming metaverse shift will further complicate this, with the rise of virtual depictions blurring the lines of what will be allowed, in terms of representation. But with many virtual influencers already operating, Meta is now working to establish ethical boundaries on their application.

As explained by Meta:

From synthesized versions of real people to wholly invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a rising phenomenon. Meta platforms are home to more than 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VIs boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”

Some of the more well-known examples on this front are Shudu, who has more than 200k followers on Instagram, and Lil’ Miquela, who has an audience of over 3 million in the app.

At first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that this is not an actual person, which makes such characters a great vehicle for brand and product promotions, as they can be utilized 24/7, and can be placed into any environment. But that also leads to concerns about body image perception, deepfakes, and other forms of misuse through false or unclear representation.

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Deepfakes, in particular, may be problematic, with Meta citing this campaign, with English football star David Beckham, as an example of how new technologies are evolving to expand the use of language, as one element, for varying purpose.

The well-known ‘DeepTomCruise’ account on TikTok is another example of just how far these technologies have come, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they could be used to, say, show a politician saying or doing something that he or she actually didn’t, which could have significant real world impacts.

Which is why Meta is working with developers and experts to establish clearer boundaries on such use – because while there is potential for harm, there are also beneficial uses for such depictions.

Imagine personalized video messages that address individual followers by name. Or celebrity brand ambassadors appearing as salespeople at local car dealerships. A famous athlete would make a great tutor for a kid who loves sports but hates algebra.

Such use cases will increasingly become the norm as VR and AR technologies are developed, with these platforms placing digital characters front and center, and establishing new norms for digital connection.

It would be better to know what’s real and what’s not, and as such, Meta needs clear regulations to remove dishonest depictions, and enforce transparency over VI use.

But then again, much of what you see on Instagram these days is not real, with filters and editing tools altering people’s appearance well beyond what’s normal, or realistic. That can also have damaging consequences, and while Meta’s looking to implement rules on VI use, there’s arguably a case for similar transparency in editing tools applied to posted videos and images as well.

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That’s a more complex element, particularly as such tools also enable people to feel more comfortable in posting, which no doubt increases their in-app activity. Would Meta be willing to put more focus on this element if it could risk impacting user engagement? The data on the impact of Instagram on people’s mental health are pretty clear, with comparison being a key concern.

Should that also come under the same umbrella of increased digital transparency?

It’s seemingly not included in the initial framework as yet, but at some stage, this is another element that should be examined, especially given the harmful effects that social media usage can have on young women.

But however you look at it, this is no doubt a rising element of concern, and it’s important for Meta to build guardrails and rules around the use of virtual influencers in their apps.

You can read more about Meta’s approach to virtual influencers here.





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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps

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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps


Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.

The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.

It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.

Meta security guide

For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.

Meta security guide

While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.

Meta security guide

There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.

It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.

Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump


Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner

Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.

The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.

He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.

Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.

On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.

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Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.



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