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Twitter’s Testing a New Option That Will Show You the Spaces That People You Follow are Tuning In To

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As Twitter looks to make its audio Spaces a bigger element within the broader platform experience, Spaces discovery now poses a key challenge – because if Twitter’s not alerting users to in-progress Spaces of interest, it’s missing out on significant engagement potential.

Which is the key impetus behind this new addition – today, Twitter is launching a new test that will show you when someone that you follow on Twitter is listening in to a Space, by highlighting that broadcast at the top of your timeline.

Twitter Spaces in progress

Up till now, Twitter has done this when someone that you follow is speaking in a Spaces chat, but now, Spaces that your connections are even tuning into will also show up, providing another way to highlight potential discussions of interest.

Which could also freak some people out. I mean, if you came across a Space on a niche interest, or a questionable topic, you might not want people to know that you’re tuning in. Because of this, Twitter has also added an easy toggle to deactivate alerts for when you’re listening to a Space (as shown in latter two screenshots above).

Which is good, but I can tell you now, some people won’t know that this is happening, and some will be very upset when they find out that their followers have been shown that they’re tuning into questionable chats in the app.

Twitter Spaces in progress

I mean, would you want people to know that you’re tuning into this discussion? And this is a very tame example, based on a quick Spaces search. 

Twitter must have deemed this worth the risk, at least enough for a live test of the function, which it probably needs to push ahead with, because again, in order to maximize the potential of Spaces, boosting discovery is key. 

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As Clubhouse is now finding, as it opens up to more users, optimal discovery of live audio is challenging, because more people broadcasting inevitably brings down the overall quality of the streams on offer at any time. Just like video live-streaming, while giving everybody the option to share whatever they like, in real-time, is an interesting addition to have, most people are simply not that great at maintaining audience interest.

There’s a reason why you see the same TV hosts on every live event – because it takes skill, and perceptive nous, to read the room, and to keep the conversation flowing, thereby maximizing audience interest. And while it can be learned, it doesn’t come naturally for most people, and most live broadcasts end up being not so great as a result.

As such, having more broadcasts actually leads to more discovery challenges, because now you’ve got a constant stream that you need to sift through, in real-time, in order to uncover the gems that each user will actually want to hear.

That’s why Twitter recently added topic tags for Spaces, helping to manually filter the listings, which will likely play a big part in populating its coming Spaces tab for each user.

Spaces topic tags

This is also why Facebook and Reddit may actually have an advantage in audio broadcast discovery, because both apps are rolling out their audio meeting options to groups and subreddits respectively. That automatically narrows the field of recommendations, because both apps can show you recommended chats based on your registered interests, as opposed to trying to pick out the best from a much larger pool of incoming audio.

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The disadvantage in that approach is that you likely won’t reach as large an audience, which Spaces is probably the best option for, given the real-time nature of Twitter and the focus that it’s putting on Spaces streams. Twitter, for example, could look to highlight the most popular Spaces at any given moment at the top of its new Spaces tab – but then again, if it just ends up showing everyone a constantly revolving display of BTS-related streams (note: there are many BTS related Spaces), that’s probably not an optimal user experience.

Hence the challenge that Twitter now faces, as it looks to take the option to the next level. If it can’t show you stuff you want to hear, you’ll stop checking the Spaces tab, once it arrives, very quickly, and the option will die out faster than you can say ‘Fleet’.

Can Twitter do it? Can Twitter use its knowledge graph, based on the people you follow, the topics you’re interested in, and related info that it can track, in order to show you the Spaces that you’re most likely to be interested in at any given time?

Based on experience with Twitter’s current topic recommendations, and the tweets that it shows me in my Explore tab, I’m not confident that it’s going to get this right – but with far more insights into user behaviors and interests than Clubhouse, it seems pretty clear that Twitter is at least likely to beat out the incumbent in this respect. 

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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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