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Social media: Past failures provided the steps for today’s giants to climb

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Social media threatening press freedom: Nobel laureate

Social media operators face a conundrum dealing with content labeled satire, which may also be harmful misinformation. — © AFP

When you consider successful social media there is a tendency to veer towards platforms like TikTok that have seen astronomical success in their short availability, or perhaps YouTube and the ability it has given creators to generate a steady income from uploading content.

However, not all social media is successful. Some platforms were successful for a period; others straightforward ‘failures’, although each arguably paved the way to establish what the collective entity of social media.

Recently the firm Higher Visibility analyzed social media sites over the past thirty years in a bid to discover those that ‘failed’ by losing popularity or ceased to exist altogether. Following this, Higher Visibility monitored where these sites sat when compared to modern social media platforms that continue to be widely used. By social media, this refers to platforms that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

After assessing the social media sites over the past thirty years, High Visibility gathered information from Statista and site information pages to discover the year they were created, the year they closed down or lost popularity (if applicable), and their highest monthly active users.

Whether any social media platform truly failed is contentious, since  many of these platforms offered learning opportunities and paved the way for the platforms in common use today. 

Taking some examples, Vine, a platform launched in 2013 saw rapid growth due to 6-second looping videos that could be experimented with to achieve creative results. Yet what was once the attraction point of the platform quickly became its downfall, with former executives citing the introduction of Instagram’s 15-second video clips in 2013 as one of the big issues. Vine came in as the 15th most successful social media on the Higher Visibility list, despite its ‘failing’.

One of the apps born from this new preoccupation with video content was Musical.ly. The platform allowed users to create videos lip-syncing to popular music, and there was a great emphasis on the promotional aspect of these through the app. Musical.ly was ultimately wildly successful despite ‘failing’ due to closing down, as it went on to be acquired by ByteDance and eventually merged into TikTok.

Friendster is often touted as an ‘early version’ of Facebook, boasting 51,010,000 monthly active users at its highpoint, paving the way for the platform that would come. The platform took off in 2003, reaching up to 4,470,000 members, and received a 30 million dollar offer from Google to buy the site. The founder, Jonathan Abrams decided instead to pursue venture capital investment. Users fell out of favour with the platform as it was not able to manage the pace of new subscribers.

MySpace followed Friendster as the brainchild of Tom Anderson, Chris DeWolfe and their friends. They modelled the site on Friendster, removing redundant features and centring the site around personal communities. MySpace was purchased in 2005 for 580 million dollars, however, later suffered due to the rising popularity of Facebook.

Of all the ‘successful’ social media platforms of the past 30 years within the full study, Facebook continues to have the highest monthly active users.

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Reddit Adds Images in Comments for Selected Communities

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Reddit Adds Images in Comments for Selected Communities

Reddit’s adding a new engagement option with images in comments now available within some 1,500 subreddits in the app.

Just as it sounds, some subreddits will now be able to switch on image posting within comment threads, providing another way for people to interact and share within these communities. Reddit also enabled GIFs in selected subreddits back in July.

As explained by Reddit:

Ever wanted to share a candid cat pic in the latest r/cats thread? Perhaps, help out a fellow r/crochet hobbyist? Or maybe even fulfill a father’s dream of being hugged by sasquatch in r/photoshoprequest? If so, this feature is for you!”

Here’s how it looks in practice (on desktop):

Reddit images in comments

As noted, it’s another way to facilitate interaction within Reddit’s highly active chat threads, which could help add context in various ways.

Though it won’t be available to all communities.

Reddit says that ‘not safe for work’ images are not allowed and will be automatically removed, with only selected, approved subreddits able to use the feature at this stage.

In SFW subreddits that turn on the feature, you’ll notice an image icon at the bottom panel of the comment section. Tap the image icon (see video below) to pull up your camera roll or desktop files, make any edits you want (on mobile only), and upload.”

It’s a simple, and potentially engaging feature update, which could help Reddit drive more interaction.

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