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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


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.

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.

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



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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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