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Meta Expands ‘Redirect Initiative’ Which Offers Alternative Information Sources on Potentially Harmful Searches

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Meta Expands 'Redirect Initiative' Which Offers Alternative Information Sources on Potentially Harmful Searches

Meta has announced a new expansion of its efforts to stop the potential radicalization of people via its apps, with its ‘Redirect Initiative’ being extended to two more regions.

As explained by Meta:

“We’re [expanding] one of our flagship counterspeech initiatives, The Redirect Initiative, into Pakistan and the UK. Now when someone in Pakistan or the UK searches on Facebook using words associated with organized hate or violent extremism, the top search result will be a link to resources and support for how to leave violence and extremism behind.”

Which sounds pretty simple – a little too simple to have any real impact. Right?

Well, not entirely. According to Meta, the Redirect Initiative, which is already active in Australia, the US, Germany and Indonesia, has proven successful in disrupting the connection between users and violent, extreme content.

Though not massively so. Meta’s contention here is based on this report, which shows that of 57,523 searches for such content in the app, over a three-month period between November 2019 and March 2020, 2,288 users clicked on its alternate, credible sources, which then lead to 25 of them seeking support from program partners.

That’s not a great success rate, but I guess, in Meta’s view, as well as those working with the company on the initiative, any disruption in this chain is significant, while the 2k clicks on these alternate links also show at least some hesitancy in searchers, which could have extended deterring impacts.

And it might also be just the start, with Meta further noting that academic insight has shown that countering such actions with credible alternatives is the best way to combat radicalization, and essentially stop users tumbling down dangerous online rabbit holes.

“Research shows that challenging violent, extremist views with positive counterspeech is one of the most effective ways to combat hate and extremism. Counterspeech involves responding to hateful, extremist narratives with empathy and alternative perspectives, rather than shutting these conversations down. Counterspeech is only effective if it comes from credible voices, so we’ve partnered with various NGOs and community groups on multiple counterspeech initiatives around the world including community programs, toolkits and research.”

It’s an interesting initiative. Not an overly successful one right now, but as noted, there will be lessons learned, and progress made, which could see it become a more significant, influential factor in reducing the pathways to more extreme responses over time.

Meta’s also working to improve its detection measures, which involves working with partner organizations and platforms to identify key trends, and in combination, all of these elements may end up having a more significant impact.

We now know, or at least have a fair understanding, of the role that social platforms can play in this chain, and if Meta can work with experts to develop better processes, then it is worth experimenting with such, even if the initial numbers aren’t wholly convincing.

Just one user deterred may well be enough, while every person who goes on to seek help can also provide further insight into exactly how this process evolves, from a psychological standpoint, which could glean key breakthroughs for expanded initiatives.


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Threads Looks Set to be Made Available to European Users Next Week

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Threads Looks Set to be Made Available to European Users Next Week

Good news with EU social media fans, with Threads looking set for a December 14th launch in the region, just in time to capitalize on holiday engagement.

As reported by The Verge, EU Instagram users can now access a countdown timer at www.threads.net, which seemingly indicates the exact time for the upcoming EU launch. Meta hasn’t made any official announcement, but the countdown clock is only visible to European users, while EU users can also search ‘ticket’ in the Instagram app to find a digital invitation to Threads.

Which replicates the original Threads launch back in July, which included similar Easter eggs and indicators pointing to the launch date (like the above).

The EU launch of Threads has been delayed by evolving EU data privacy regulations, which, due to the timing of the implementation of these new rules, has put additional development burden on the Threads team to ensure compliance with the new parameters. Amid the initial Threads launch, Instagram (and Threads) chief Adam Mosseri said that it could take “many months” for Threads to reach EU users due to these additional complications.

But we have since seen indicators that Threads is coming.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta had an established plan to launch Threads to EU users in December, while app researchers have found various references to an upcoming “Threads EU Launch” in the app’s code.

Threads EU launch

Given the various strands of evidence, it does indeed seem likely that European users will get access to the app next week. And again, with social media usage increasing during the holiday break, that would also provide the best opportunity for Meta to capitalize on its opportunities.

Which are seemingly on the rise. As more people turn away from Elon Musk’s X project, largely due to Musk’s own divisive commentary, they’re seeking a real-time social alternative, and for many Threads is already filling that void.

That’s especially true for journalists, a common target of Musk’s attacks, who are now establishing new networks within the Threads ecosphere. And while live sports engagement remains high on X, Threads is also making a push to win over more sports communities, even placing ads courtside during the new NBA in-season tournament showcase in Las Vegas.

Threads NBA ad

That’s seemingly prompting more sports fans to post in the app, which will expand again with the arrival of potentially millions more users in the EU region.

So how many more users can Threads expect to gain as a result of its European expansion?

Based on Meta’s EU disclosure data on active users, Instagram currently serves some 259 million monthly active users in Europe.

Instagram’s total, official user count is 1 billion MAU, while Threads now has over 100 million monthly users. So presumably, around a tenth of active IG users are also signing up to the app, which would mean that, at a rough estimate, we’re set to see around 25.9 million new Threads users incoming, if/when Threads is launched in the EU region.

Which is probably not as many as you might expect, but this is based on rough estimates, as Instagram reportedly has more than a billion actives now, and we don’t know the exact, current user counts of either app.

But either way, it will expand the conversation in the app, and enable more people to take part, which has its own expanded benefits. And with around 60 million X users also in the region, that could see a number of them looking to make the switch.

Which is the real aim here. Meta has created Threads as the X alternative, aiming to scoop up former Twitter cast-offs who are unhappy with Elon’s changes at the app. In order to do that, Threads needs to be available in all regions where X users may be looking to jump ship, so its EU expansion is another critical step in this respect.

It’ll be interesting to see what Threads user numbers rise to over the holiday period, and whether it can indeed become a genuine rival for X in total active engagement.

We’ll keep you updated on any official announcement on the Threads EU launch.



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The best social media hacks to blow up your following in just a year

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The best social media hacks to blow up your following in just a year

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Get viral fast. Plus more social media hacks to grow your accounts.

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X Pitches Advertisers on Audience Reach Opportunities in ‘Q5’

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X Pitches Advertisers on Audience Reach Opportunities in ‘Q5’

X is making a push to win over advertisers in the holiday season, by promoting its opportunities in “Q5”, which covers the post-Christmas to mid-January period.

As explained by X:

During [Q5], we see reduced CPMs and cost-per-conversion as consumers shop for post-holiday deals and products to support their New Year’s ambitions. Last year, X saw a 5% reduction in the average CPM and a 27% reduction in the average cost-per-conversion1.

Which could present new opportunity to reach a larger audience with your promotions, if indeed they are engaging on X over the holiday period.

“Q5 is filled with a wide variety of tent-pole moments, ranging from the holidays to sports, entertainment and more. With a surge of engagement around these conversations, your brand can remain relevant to your audiences while driving maximum ROI.

X says that, based on engagement data from last year, there are a lot of potential topics of interest for brands.

X also notes that sports video views are surging in the app, up almost 25% YoY over the past 6 months, while vertical video is also gaining momentum.

“Vertical video is the fastest growing surface on X. Over 100M people around the world are consuming vertical video daily at an average of over 13 minutes per day. On many days, vertical video accounts for around 20% of all time spent on the platform.

Though I would advise some caution in trusting these data points.

In recent months, various questions have been raised as to what X counts as a video “view” versus an impression, which is when a post is shown in-feed.

Technically, X counts video views like this:

“The main X video view metric is triggered when a user watches a video for at least 2 seconds and sees at least 50% of the video player in-view. This applies to View metrics for both uploaded videos and live broadcasts.

But that’s different to the actual view count that’s displayed on posts:

“Anyone who is logged into X who views a post counts as a view, regardless of where they see the post (e.g. Home, Search, Profiles, etc.) or whether or not they follow the author. If you’re the author, looking at your own post also counts as a view.

Even worse, X counts multiple views from the same person in that count:

“Multiple views may be counted if you view a post more than once, but not all views are unique. For example, you could look at a post on web and then on your phone, and that would count as two views.

So you can see how the public view count on video posts can massively overstate how many people actually watched a clip, which could be why X is reporting such big spikes in engagement. It just depends on which “view” metric it’s referring to here, actual views or exposure in stream.

Which makes all of these numbers a little difficult to determine, while X owner Elon Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino have also continued to amplify misleading engagement stats via their own X profiles, muddying the waters as to what kind of actual reach and engagement you can expect.

And that’s before you consider the concerns that other advertisers have had with their promotions potentially being displayed alongside harmful or offensive content in the app.

But depending on how you feel about these aspects, and where your target audience is active, it could be worth considering X for your post-holiday promotions, as you look to maximize sales activity over the holiday period.

It’s also worth considering that with fewer big-name brands taking prime spots in the app, there may also be additional opportunity to reach people via X promotions.

There may be value, depending on your strategic thinking, though I would be keeping an eye on actual engagement

You can read more of X’s Q5 insights here.



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