After rolling them out to selected creators over the past year, Instagram has now announced that its live-stream Badges, which enable viewers to make donations to creators, will be enabled by default for all streams in all regions where they’re available.
As per Instagram:
“From today, if you’re eligible to use Badges, and they’re available in your country, they will now be automatically enabled for all lives so you can seamlessly begin monetizing.”
The update will see more creators eligible to generate money from their IG Live efforts, which could encourage them to broadcast more often, in order to generate more engagement, and revenue from their fans.
IG Live badges appear alongside comments when the commenter has paid to add ‘extra flair’ to their contribution.
Users are able to purchase badges during a live-stream by tapping the badges icon in the lower function bar, with prices ranging from $0.99 for one heart, to $4.99 for three.
Any revenue generated from badges applied in a stream goes back to the creator (minus any fees), providing a means to both offer direct financial support to your favorite streamers in the app, while also giving viewers a way to highlight their comments, which could then give the streamer more reason to acknowledge them and interact.
In order to get access to IG Live badges, creators need to be aged over 18, and have a Creator or Business account in the app. They also need to have over 10k followers, and they need to be compliant with the platform’s various partner monetization policies and community guidelines.
IG Live badges are currently available to creators in the US, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, Australia, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico. And now, when creators in these regions go live, they’ll be switched on automatically – though you can also switch badges off if you’d prefer not to enact them on your broadcasts.
It’s the latest in Instagram’s expanding effort to provide more monetization potential to creators, in order to keep them posting more often, and keep their audiences coming back to the app. IG is now in a battle with every other platform to retain top talent, and as we’ve seen over time, eventually, big-name stars will shift to the platforms that offer them the biggest revenue potential, which could, eventually, be a key growth element for each app.
The issue came up once again this week, with Twitch stars threatening to leave the app unless it reforms its payment models, with YouTube and Meta now offering better incentives in their game-streaming programs. That’s the same issue that eventually saw the demise of Vine, which, given the success of TikTok, was clearly never about the app’s functionality or offering. Vine stars wanted more money for the audiences that they brought in with their content, which parent company Twitter couldn’t provide. Those creators eventually migrated to other platforms, and Vine died out, becoming a cautionary tale for other platforms.
Creator monetization has become a bigger battleground with the arrival of TikTok, with YouTube and Meta looking to utilize their scale and resources to muscle out their rising competitor. That’s subsequently raised the stakes for all platforms, and it’ll be interesting to see how sustainable the current creator payment programs are, and whether the big players do indeed end up winning out as a result.
TikTok is still working on its monetization models, and both the incumbent leaders can offer more potential on this front. Will that reach a key tipping point for TikTok, or will it be able to continue evolving its tools in line with overall growth?
Clearly, Instagram is working to up its game to further squeeze TikTok on this front.
Iran ‘throttling’ internet to limit protest footage: activists
The restrictions still fall short of the total shutdown seen in November 2019 but have caused a reduction in the video footage shared – Copyright Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/File John Randeris HANSEN
Iran is imposing increasingly severe restrictions on access to the internet, albeit still short of a total shutdown, in an apparent bid to limit the sharing of footage of protests which have erupted nationwide, activists charge.
Campaigners and Persian-language television channels outside Iran have noted a reduction in the posting of footage of the protests filmed on mobile phones, almost two weeks into the movement that erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini.
The authorities have already restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp — until now the last remaining unfiltered social media services — and have now clamped down on apps like the Google Play Store as well as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that seek to circumvent local access restrictions.
“It’s still not an internet shutdown, and it’s hard to even describe what they are doing to the network as ‘shutdowns’. Perhaps extreme throttling is the best simple term for it,” said the Iran researcher for freedom of expression group Article 19, Mahsa Alimardani.
“But the disruptions are heavy,” she told AFP, saying disconnections were hitting a peak from late afternoon to midnight when most protests take place.
The restrictions still fall short of the total shutdown seen in November 2019 when a crackdown on less than a week of protests, according to Amnesty International, left at least 321 people dead.
Videos of protests and alleged abuses by the authorities are still filtering out onto social media channels, but not in the same volume as when protests first erupted following the death of Amini who had been arrested by the morality police.
“The authorities seem to have learned how dangerous this is for their economy or overall public relations,” commented Alimardani.
– ‘Massive hurdle’ –
Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), which says 76 people have been killed in the crackdown so far, said internet access has either been “severely disrupted or completely cut” over the last days.
“Internet disruptions continue to cause delays in reporting” deaths in the protests, it warned.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said: “Twelve days after the beginning of the protests, the internet network is still down daily throughout the country.”
In response, social media giants have sought to offer assistance to Iranians, the United States has even agreed sanction relief on some software, and tycoon Elon Musk has offered his Starlink satellite internet network.
But how much such measures can help, especially in the short term, remains unclear.
“Internet outages are happening more frequently worldwide, including in parts of Iran this week,” Google said in a statement on Twitter, saying its teams were “working to make our tools broadly available” following the eased US sanctions.
“We hope these changes help, in some small way, people safely access information at this important time,” it added.
Iranians have long used VPNs to access sites blocked in Iran — even government officials including the foreign minister have Twitter accounts despite the network being blocked in the country.
But Alimardani described using and accessing VPNs right now as “hit and miss” for Iranians with the blocking of the Google Play Store, a major blow when most Iranians are using Android mobile phones with their Google operating systems.
“This is a massive hurdle to downloading safe and new VPNs that work,” she said.
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