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Meta Promotes Former British MP Nick Clegg to Key Role Shaping its Broader Narrative, and Responding to Concerns

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

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Meta has made a key announcement as part of its ongoing effort to better ingratiate itself with world leaders, and avoid potential legal challenges and restrictive regulation, with current Vice‑President for Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg promoted to a new role which will give him more responsibility for shaping the company’s outreach and communications in this respect.

As explained by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

“I’ve asked Nick Clegg to take on a new position as President, Global Affairs. For the last three years, Nick has managed some of the most complex issues our company faces – including content policy, elections, the establishment of the Oversight Board, and more. Nick will now lead our company on all our policy matters, including how we interact with governments as they consider adopting new policies and regulations, as well as how we make the case publicly for our products and our work.”

As Zuckerberg notes, Clegg, who once served as the Deputy Prime Minister in the UK, has been Meta’s front man in explaining its position on various challenging elements. Clegg has become known for his long op-eds and blog posts, which seek to re-frame certain narratives. And while there’s an undeniable credibility to having such a high profile former politician as its spokeperson on such matters, there have also been questions about Meta’s approach, as it leans into politicization and spin, as part of its PR effort.

Indeed, a key concern in this respect is that by appointing a career politician (Clegg served as a British MP for 12 years), that then changes the motivations for Meta’s PR outreach and disclosure, because the motivations for a politician are very different to those normally adopted by a private company in this respect.

For a politician, all PR is about winning, about framing the opposition as negative, and diluting their points, while also highlighting the positives of your own policies and stances, generally in a totally biased and specifically angled way.

For Meta, that’s not necessarily a good thing, because that could then lead to it downplaying negative reports and insights, in order to ‘win’ by showcasing benefits, or at the least, watering down such criticism.

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In Meta’s case, in operating the biggest inter-connected network of humans in history, it has huge potential to influence key elements, and cause seismic shifts in the political landscape, while also facilitating misinformation and other potential harms on a massive scale.

We know this, and we also know that Clegg’s position on such thus far has indeed been to play it down, and point to conflicting evidence as a means to deflect responsibility and counter scrutiny.

Is that a good thing? Should Meta be looking to deflect and redirect, when it could be taking a deeper look at its operations instead, and addressing these key concerns, rather than avoiding them?

That’ll be an even bigger question in the coming metaverse shift, with many people already raising concerns about the potential harms of harassment and abuse in these more immersive digital spaces. If anything, Meta’s tools will likely have even more impact moving forward, and as such, it will need to be held accountable, and pushed to address these issues, rather than minimizing them as it seeks to dominate the next tech space.

Meta wants to ‘move fast’ and ‘build awesome things’, but that also requires deeper consideration of the impacts of such too, and while Clegg may be good at rebutting claims, that may not be the best approach.

But Meta is also a private company, and as such, it can take whatever approach it deems fit in countering such narratives.

Zuckerberg says that Clegg’s new appointment will enable him to focus more energy on leading the company, while it will also support CTO Sheryl Sandberg as she continues to focus on other elements, as opposed to both being called upon to defend Meta’s position.

So expect more long essays from Clegg explaining why theories about Meta’s negative influence are wrong, and why the metaverse will be really, really good, despite concerns.

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Which, to me at least, is definitely a concern in itself.

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Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments

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Instagram Confirms that Videos Under 60 Seconds in Stories will No Longer Be Split into Segments

Instagram continues its gradual process of merging its video products into one, with the announcement that videos in Stories that are under 60 seconds in length will no longer be split into 15-second segments in the app.

As you can see in this in-app alert, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when you update your IG app, you’ll get a notification letting you know that your videos in Stories will no longer be cut up, making it a more seamless viewing experience.

Instagram’s been testing the update with selected users over the past year, as part of its broader process to integrate its video options, in line with the short-form video shift and general engagement trends.

Last October, Instagram retired its IGTV brand, as it combined IGTV and feed videos into one format, while in July, Instagram announced that all uploaded video under 15 minutes in length would be posted as Reels, further aligning its various video formats.

Instagram Reels update

The merging of its video options is aimed at simplifying the app, while it will also, ideally, help Instagram maximize user engagement, by making all of its video content, in all formats, available in more places where users are interacting.

By shifting its video content to a more aligned format, that’ll give IG more video inventory to insert into user feeds, which it’s increasingly looking to do via AI-defined recommendations, as it follows TikTok’s lead in making your main feed more focused on entertainment, as opposed to being restricted to only the latest posts from people and profiles that you follow.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently noted that just over 15% of the content in Instagram feeds now comes from people, groups, or accounts that users don’t follow, with its AI recommendations contributing more and more to the user experience. Zuckerberg noted that he expects to see that amount more than double by the end of next year.

Instagram’s been working towards this for some time, with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri noting back in January that: 

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We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”

The merging of its video formats will ideally facilitate more opportunities in this respect, while also making it much easier for users to understand where to find each different type of content – or increasingly, to not have to go searching for it at all, as it’ll be fed directly into your main feed, whether you follow the creator or not.

Which, of course, is a process that not all users are entirely happy with as yet, but still, Meta remains confident that they’ll come around as its recommendations algorithms continue to develop.

Instagram has confirmed the new Stories video expansion to TechCrunch, explaining that:

“We are always working on ways to improve the Stories experience. Now, you’ll be able to play and create Stories continuously for up to 60 seconds, instead of being automatically cut into 15-second clips.”

That’ll also make it easier to skip through those longer videos that you’re not interested in (as you’ll only have to skip once, as opposed to tapping through each individual frame) – though it may also have implications for creators who’ve structured sponsored content deals based on frame counts, as opposed to Story length.

That’s a relatively easy fix, longer term, with the focus shifting to length instead. But it may add some complications to the process in the immediate future, as the Stories eco-system evolves in line with the new process.

Instagram says that the new, longer video Stories are being rolled out to all users.

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