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LinkedIn Now Factors ‘Dwell Time’ Into Content Distribution Algorithm, Which Could Be Bad News for ‘Broetry’



LinkedIn has this week published an overview of its new ‘dwell time’ metric, which is now being factored into its feed algorithm, which defines what each user sees on the platform.

Dwell time, as it sounds, calculates how long a LinkedIn user spends looking at an update or link.

As explained by LinkedIn:

At a high level, each update viewed on the feed generates two types of dwell time. First, there is dwell time “on the feed,” which starts measuring when at least half of a feed update is visible as a member scrolls through their feed. Second, there is dwell time “after the click,” which is the time spent on content after clicking on an update in the feed.”

Facebook uses a similar consideration in its infamous News Feed algorithm, factoring in how much time each user spends on a piece of content, which then, based on what they spend time with, infers to the system that the user is interested in more or less of the same. That then helps to dictate order of the posts that you see.

LinkedIn says that it conducted a range of tests to determine if there was a definitive point at which dwell time was indicative of user interest – i.e. is there a blanket threshold at which dwell time would suggest that the user will never click through or engage with certain posts. 

LinkedIn’s engineers found that there was, and interestingly, that it was fairly universal across all forms of LinkedIn updates.

Instagram dwell time

As such, LinkedIn has now built its dwell time metric into its feed algorithm. So if you want to maximize your post reach on LinkedIn, you should consider how you grab people’s attention, and keep it for as long as possible. Which is pretty generic content advice anyway, so it’s not really a major revelation or strategic update.

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But it may have another impact, and if you’re a connoisseur of the ‘broetry’, you could be impacted.

Back in February, when LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner announced that he was stepping down from his role, his incoming replacement, Ryan Roslansky, noted that he dislikes the broetry posts on the platform.

For the uninitiated, broetry posts on LinkedIn are those updates with spaces between each line, spreading the text for as long as possible down the screen (example via Ryan Mac)

LinkedIn Broetry

The idea here is that they lure clicks – with the text so widely spread out, users only get to see the first line or so in the in-feed preview, so they have to click/tap on the ‘See more’ prompt in order to understand what the full post is actually about.

That click has, up till now, been a key factor in determining algorithm reach, which LinkedIn notes in its overview of dwell time.

“We train our machine learning models to predict several quantities for each possible click and viral action (click, react, comment, share). The outputs of these models are then synthesized into a single score using a weighted linear combination. Finally, this score is used to perform a point-wise ranking of all the candidate updates.”

So clicks – as well as reactions, comments and shares – are key definers of user interest in a post in LinkedIn’s system, which then determines what they see more of in future. As such, broetry is probably a good tactic, as it sucks in clicks – it’s essentially a clickbait strategy. But maybe, with dwell time, that won’t be so significant anymore.

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Again, from LinkedIn:

“Clicks are noisy indicators of engagement. For example, a member may click on an article, but quickly close out, realizing it’s not relevant, and return to the feed within a few seconds. We call these “click bounces”.

If LinkedIn wanted to de-emphasize broetry, now it can – it could reduce the value of clicks, and up the value of dwell time instead.

Given Roslansky’s noted dislike of broetry posts, and the fact that LinkedIn has a name (‘click bounces’) for this type of less beneficial user engagement, I’d hazard a guess to say that’s exactly what its doing, which will mean fewer broetry posts, and more content you actually spend time reading.

As such, in terms of strategic pointers, this update may be less about what you should post – as you should be posting stuff that grabs attention and sees ongoing engagement anyway – and more about what you shouldn’t. Click bounces are likely not what LinkedIn wants to emphasize, so luring clicks, in itself, should not be a consideration in your approach.

No more broetry. Will LinkedIn ever be the same?

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



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



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



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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