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Instagram Tests ‘Selected People’ for Stories, Providing More Control Over Your Stories Audience

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Instagram has launched a new test that will enable people to select specific profiles that will be able to view their Stories, as part of an additional element in the Stories creation flow of every post.

Instagram Close Friends test

As you can see in these screenshots, ‘Selected People’, which is being tested in Brazil, will enable users to tick the specific users that they want to allow to view each of their Stories updates.

It’s essentially an alternate version of Instagram’s current ‘Close Friends’ option, which enables users to make a list of their key contacts for Stories sharing, with this new variation providing more specific capacity with each update, offering more control, but also more work in defining your specific audience each time.

Instagram Close Friends

As Instagram explained to 9 to 5 Mac:

Before, with the ‘Close Friends’ feature, people could only share Stories with the same list of friends without being able to edit it. With this test, you’ll be able to add, remove, or keep people on your list with different Stories.”

More capacity to control who sees your posts could be helpful, while Instagram also notes that your Selected People listing will remain in place until you edit it again. Which means it’s almost exactly like the current ‘Close Friends’ option, but with the extra capacity to easily change it every time you post.

That seems like an under-the-radar helpful addition, which may seem like only a minor update, but could provide a significant improvement in posting capacity, helping to facilitate more intimate, private Stories sharing, without broadcasting to everyone with each post.

It could also open up a new form of specific Stories sharing to only a couple of friends at a time. Of course, you can also use Instagram Direct for this type of interaction, but the option to share full-screen, regular Stories, that only appear to certain users, could hold specific value, which could be a fun engagement option.

And for brands, it could also offer new capacity, like announcing competition winners, and offering exclusive deals to very specific audiences. Again, you can use close friends already to reach certain groups, but choosing just one person, or smaller groups of people, each time that you post, could facilitate new ways to maximize brand engagement, and fuel more connection with fans.

It seems, overall, like a good addition – right now, Instagram is only testing it in Brazil, though it looks like it should get a full launch soon.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Most Visited Websites in the World – 2023 Edition [Infographic]

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The Most Visited Websites in the World - 2023 Edition [Infographic]

Google remains the most-visited website in the world, while Facebook is still the most frequented social platform, based on web traffic. Well, actually, YouTube is, but YouTube’s only a partial social app, right?

The findings are displayed in this new visualization from Visual Capitalist, which uses SimilarWeb data to show the most visited websites in bubble chart format, highlighting the variance in traffic.

As you can see, following Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the next most visited social platforms, which is likely in line with what most would expect – though the low numbers for TikTok probably stand out, given its dominance of modern media zeitgeist.

But there is a reason for that – this data is based on website visits, not app usage, so platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, which are primarily focused on the in-app experience, won’t fare as well in this particular overview.

In that sense, it’s interesting to see which social platforms are engaging audiences via their desktop offerings.

You can check out the full overview below, and you can read Visual Capitalist’s full explainer here.

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Cheeky branding wins (and missteps)

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Branding and rebranding is getting more fun, here we look at some of cheekiest brands that have caught our eye – for the right and wrong reasons.



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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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