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Refreshing your feed isn’t always helpful. Here’s how to use social media better in wake of election



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No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, this is a hard, news-filled week for American voters.

And, like at the beginning of the pandemic, many of us are glued to social media, hoping to find any kind of update. In fact, according to Forbes, about 72 percent of Americans who are of voting age actively use social media — and that’s a lot of folks with bated breath.

But constantly refreshing your feed isn’t always helpful — especially in tense, fraught times like this. So how should you think about using social media right now?

With so many of us isolated in our homes right now due to the pandemic, social media can feel like a lifeline to the outside world — and in some ways, it is. But studies have shown that overuse is associated with increased depression and anxiety, among other ailments.

So with that in mind during this tense, postelection cycle, consider cutting back on your social media intake, or taking a break entirely — after all, doomscrolling (or endlessly consuming negative news on your feed) isn’t going to help. Even Wall Street Journal technology columnist Joanna Stern recommends a break and said she is planning on staying off social media for at least a few days. As Stern recently put it: “The first rule of election social media is: You do not use election social media.”

Cutting off social media entirely can be difficult, but Psychology Today recommends putting your phone out of reach, turning off notifications, and deleting social media apps from your smartphone. However, if you can’t take a break entirely, at least try to limit your screen time, and make sure the information you’re consuming is reliable.

“It’s better to consume 30, 35 minutes of quality information than having (the television) on the entire day, or notifications on your phone,” Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, told The Inquirer earlier this year in reference to the coronavirus news cycle. But that’s good advice for the election, too.

Social media lives and breathes on interactions like liking, commenting, and sharing — and with the anxiety and doubt many of us are feeling right now, participating in the online election conversation in those ways may feel necessary. But before you share, like, or comment, first stop and take a breath, and consider: Do you need to do this right now?

“It’s important to share information. It’s important in these times, this is part of how we’re helping each other get through this,” Kristy Roschke, a professor at Arizona State University told The Inquirer earlier this year. “But I don’t think we need to share everything we come across.”

And as the Washington Post points out, arguing online isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind, so it might be smarter just to walk away — or at least try to not be hostile when leaving a reply. But even then, research has shown political beliefs are particularly difficult to alter, as we tend to “mistake ideological challenges as personal insults,” as Vox reported in 2017.

Instead, like with coronavirus news, try to share and interact with information online intentionally and thoughtfully — but only after you’ve paused first.

If you decide you are going to share information on social media, take some steps to make sure it isn’t wrong. One good way to do that is the SIFT Method, which was developed by digital literacy expert Mike Caulfield of Washington State University Vancouver.

The steps, Caulfield writes online, are to stop, investigate the source, find trusted coverage, and trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context. Taken together, these steps can help determine when claims are incorrect, what sources are ” ‘bad actors’ who are trying to deceive you,” and recontextualize information. Or, put more simply, as Caulfield told The Inquirer earlier this year: “Take a breath and think, ‘Do I actually know what I’m doing with that?’ “

Many resources online can help spot election misinformation, such as Buzzfeed’s running list of false and misleading information about the election, and breakdown of false info specifically related to Pennsylvania. Likewise, the New York Times has a wide-ranging write-up debunking some of the most viral election misinformation.

Additionally, social media websites have taken steps to help identify misleading or false claims shared online. Facebook and Instagram, for example, have been attaching warning labels to misleading content. Twitter, meanwhile, is hiding false claims behind warning screens that require users to click through to see them.

Whether you’re staying up-to-the-minute on election updates or checking social media only periodically for advancements, remember: It will take time to determine who the winner of the presidential election is, so don’t expect an answer right away.

That is because of the huge number of mail-in and absentee ballots cast around the country, which means it could be days or weeks before the race’s winner is determined. And, as The Inquirer reported this week, we will see shifts in the margins between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden as votes are counted — particularly in key battleground states like Pennsylvania.

Already, reports have popped up that Philadelphia is behind schedule with counting mail ballots, or stopped altogether. However, as city election officials previously said, they are working to count ballots around the clock. As Omar Sabir, a city commissioner, told The Inquirer, “we’re doing the canvass, we are not stopping for nobody.”

But it will take time, so try to be patient. In the meantime, breathe, and try to relax.

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Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets



Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets

Here’s the difficult thing with Twitter no longer having a comms department – now, there’s nowhere to go to confirm info about the app’s latest updates and features, and where each is available, etc.

Case in point – this week, Twitter appears to have launched a new in-stream boost option for tweets, which provides a quick and easy way to promote your tweet without having to launch a full ad campaign.

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by Jonah Manzano (and shared by Matt Navarra), the new boost option would be available direct from a tweet. You’d simply tap through, select a budget, and you would be able to boost your tweet then and there.

Which seems to be new, but also seems familiar.

It’s sort of like Twitter’s Quick Promote option, but an even more streamlined version, with new visuals and a new UI for boosting a tweet direct from the details screen.

Tweet boost

So it does seem like a new addition – but again, with no one at Twitter to ask, it’s hard to confirm detail about the option.

But from what we can tell, this is a new Twitter ad process, which could provide another way to set an objective, a budget, and basic targeting parameters to reach a broader audience in the app.

Which could be good, depending on performance, and there may well be some tweets that you just want to quickly boost and push out to more people, without launching a full campaign.

It could also be a good way for Twitter to bring in a few more ad dollars, and it could be worth experimenting with to see what result you get, based on the simplified launch process.

If it’s available to you. We’d ask Twitter where this is being made available, but we can’t. So maybe you’ll see it in the app, maybe not.

Thus is the enigma of Twitter 2.0.

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Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills



Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills

US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills. Reuters File Photo

New York: US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills after it advised the social media company on its acquisition by Elon Musk last year.

“As of December 23, 2022, Twitter remains in default of its obligations to Innisfree under the agreement in an amount of not less than $1,902,788.03,” the lawsuit said.

Twitter and a lawyer for Innisfree did not respond to queries.

Elon Musk in October closed the $44 billion deal announced in April that year and took over microblogging platform Twitter.

In January 2023, Britain’s Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, said that it had begun court proceedings against Twitter over alleged unpaid rent on its London headquarters.

Advertising spending on Twitter Inc dropped by 71% in December, data from an advertising research firm showed, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social-media platform after Musk’s takeover.

The banks that had provided $13 billion in financing last year for the Tesla chief executive’s acquisition of Twitter abandoned plans to sell the debt to investors because of uncertainty around the social media company’s fortunes and losses, according to media reports.

Recently, Twitter made its first interest payment on a loan that banks provided to help finance Musk’s purchase of the social media company last year.

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Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up



Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up

Twitter is making its next big push on Twitter Blue subscriptions, as Elon Musk and Co. look to build Twitter Blue into a more significant revenue driver for the app.

First off, Twitter has now expanded Twitter Blue access to Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, which will enable millions more Twitter users to potentially sign-up for a verification tick.

I mean, most probably won’t, going on what we’ve seen thus far, but it will likely swell Twitter Blue sign-ups by another few thousand, adding more cash to Twitter’s coffers.

Twitter’s also looking to further incentivize Blue sign-up by offering revenue share for ads shown in reply threads.

The idea here is that if users write interesting tweets, they would get compensated for the discussion they generate – but you need to be signed up to Twitter Blue to get it.

Elon hasn’t shared any further info on potential revenue split or process at this stage.

Twitter’s also looking to bring back an improved Spaces/podcast experience, as a Twitter Blue exclusive, while Musk has also hinted at allowing some users to avoid having to pay for basic API access, when it becomes unavailable next week, if they sign-up.

Oh, and Twitter’s gold checkmarks for business? Yeah, they’re likely going to be expensive if you want them.

Can’t imagine many brands are going to fork out $12,000 a year for a profile badge, along with $50 per staff member you want to add.

But maybe, Elon and Co. have some more tricks up their sleeve here, and they’ll eventually offer more incentives for businesses to sign-up.

But right now, that’s pretty steep.

And also, ‘legacy’ checkmarks will apparently be gone within the next few months.

All of these elements combined could juice Twitter Blue take-up, though it’s still hard to see it becoming the major contributor to Twitter’s revenue as Elon envisions.

At present, based on third-party tracking, the new Twitter Blue program looks to have around 300,000 subscribers, bringing in an extra $2.4 million per month, and $7.2 million per quarter.

Which is pretty good – but again, it’s still a long way from where Twitter wants subscription revenue to be.

When initially outlining his Twitter 2.0 reformation plans, Musk said that he wants to make subscription revenue around 50% of Twitter’s overall intake. That would serve two purposes – if the majority of users sign-up, Twitter can then use Twitter Blue as a form of ‘payment verification’, meaning that those accounts that don’t have a blue tick are increasingly likely to be bots. It would also reduce Twitter’s reliance on ads, which would give Musk more freedom to make moderation decisions as he likes, without considering potential ad placement concerns.

But in order to do this, Twitter needs a lot more users to sign up.

Twitter’s revenue in Q2 2022, the last time it publicly reported its numbers, was $1.18 billion, meaning that Twitter Blue would need to be bringing in around $590 million per quarter to meet that 50% goal.

Which is about 81x what Twitter Blue is currently bringing in, while at 300k sign-ups, that’s also only 0.12% of Twitter’s active user base that’s currently paying for a blue tick.

That’s likely why Twitter is making a new push on the program, in a bid to jack those numbers up, and maybe, in combination with businesses that do end up forking over $1k per month, it could become a more significant element in Twitter’s revenue make-up.

But 50% of revenue still seems like a lofty goal.

It’s also still confusing as to why anyone would pay, because as soon as you do, you’re devaluing the whole point of the verification checkmark in the first place.

The initial blue ticks were designed to delineate noteworthy users and organizations, which Twitter didn’t always get right, but for the most part, you knew that a blue tick account was likely someone who had relevant, authoritative things to say.   

Now, it’s just anyone who can afford it, and with Twitter looking to increase the reach of tweets from Blue accounts, that also means that the app is increasingly becoming more ‘pay to play’ for regular users, with the blue ticks becoming increasingly meaningless from a functional perspective.

And the logic behind them becomes more diluted with every person who signs up. Eventually, all the blue checkmark will mean is that this person can afford to pay – and who cares? Why do they need a blue tick, from a user perspective, to show that they have enough money to spend?

It sort of feels like the NFT trend of 2021, but worse, because it’s replacing an existing system that did serve a purpose.

In any event, Twitter’s not backing away from its Blue subscription plan, and its hopes of maximizing revenue intake, in any way it can, to keep the company afloat.

Which, given the extra debt it’s been saddled with in the Elon deal, is even tougher than ever – but maybe, in combination with everything else, subscriptions will form enough of an extra income stream to meaningfully contribute to its plans.

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