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Pinterest Updates Feed Algorithm to Boost Specific Content Types, in Addition to Usage-Defined Trends

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Pinterest has published a new overview of how a recent update to its algorithm has enabled it to better balance the types of content it shows in user home feeds, which will enable it to display a broader range of content, as opposed to simply relying on engagement data to drive its Pin recommendations.

The update is a new approach to Pinterest’s algorithm distribution, which will enable it to put more focus on, say, video content, or content from a more culturally diverse set of creators, without having to compromise user experience.

And if you’re looking to use Pinterest within your digital marketing efforts, it’s worth noting how the update could impact what your target audience is shown in the app.

As explained by Pinterest engineer Yaron Greif:

“Every day millions of Pinners visit the home feed to find inspiration on Pinterest. As a member of the home feed ranking team, it’s my job to not only figure out what relevant pins to show Pinners but also to make sure that those Pins will help maintain the health of the overall Pinterest ecosystem.”

So, Pinterest doesn’t only display content based on what you’ve engaged within the past, and the boards that you follow – it also seeks to highlight other content, relative to different goals.

So what are those other goals?

Sharing more video content is one:

“For instance, relative to ranking just for relevance, we might display more newly-created Pins to ensure our corpus doesn’t become stale, or more video Pins to surface actionable ideas from creators.”

As with all platforms, video content generates more engagement, and in Pinterest’s case, that likely also means that it gets an extra boost within the algorithm, beyond what each user has shared and engaged with in the past.

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That’s an important consideration – if you want to maximize your reach on Pinterest, it’s worth both keeping your content flowing, with new, fresh Pins for the system to rank, but also to consider different content types, particularly video, and also new post options and tools that Pinterest may be looking to give more exposure to via algorithm ranking.

In order to achieve these expanded content exposure goals, Pinterest has implemented a new ‘controllable distribution’ system which is:

“…applied after the traditional ranking layer to control the tradeoff between areas like relevance, freshness, and creator goals by boosting and demoting the ranking scores of content types.”

How much influence that process has is not entirely clear, but as with video, Pinterest will seek to amplify certain types of content and creators at different times in order to meet variable goals, in addition to basic ranking based on each users’ engagement. 

Pinterest controllable distribution

“Controllable distribution replaces hard-coded constants with a system where business owners can specify a global target for the percentage of impressions by content type. For example, if 4% of the feed is set to video, controllable distribution can then automatically determine how to achieve that distribution while still respecting Pinner content preferences. Importantly, controllable distribution adjusts the system continuously in realtime, so it does not grow stale.”

One of the key use cases for this will likely be to increase creator representation on the platform.

As Pinterest recently noted in its response to the #BlackLivesMatter protests:

“We are working to make sure the content people see on Pinterest represents people from diverse backgrounds. We are investing more resources into growing the diversity of content on our platform.”

Having the capacity implement more specific influence on algorithm-defined results will facilitate this, helping to ensure that Pinterest users are exposed to more content from different sources. 

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Though it also interesting to note a recent flaw uncovered in Pinterest’s algorithm recommendations, which has seen Pinterest hosting a range of offensive posts. As reported by OneZero, Pinterest’s process for addressing concerning content and trends is to block them from showing up in main feeds and in relevant searches.

“[While] Facebook and Twitter have opted to combat disinformation by removing millions of harmful posts and accounts, Pinterest chose another route, launching a search ban on “polluted content” in 2018 that started with anti-vaccination terms, cancer cures, and other health misinformation. Instead of completely eliminating this type of content, Pinterest’s search engine blocks results for keywords likely to produce misinformation.”

That process reduces the enforcement load on Pinterest, while also limiting the distribution of such content – but it also means that such material still exists on the platform, and can still be accessed via other search options, like, for example, Google search. 

That means that Pinterest, while it’s addressing this content on front, is still facilitating the distribution of the same material in other, less obvious ways. OneZero‘s investigation found various Pins depicting underage girls, anti-vax content and more, which have largely gone unchecked, and may present another content challenge for Pinterest to address.

That’s a separate concern from algorithm distribution, but related in terms of how Pinterest surfaces and recommends (or doesn’t) certain types of content. 

All up, this new algorithm update will enable Pinterest to put more focus on specific elements of its choosing within its Pin recommendations, without impacting user experience.

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The full extent of this influence is impossible to quantify, but it is worth noting the changes to how Pinterest’s algorithm works, and considering what that might mean for your own approach.

Socialmediatoday.com

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

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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

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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

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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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