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Unlikely savior: Musk’s antics give Zuckerberg PR makeover



Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has mostly ignored provocations from Elon Musk

Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) has mostly ignored provocations from Elon Musk – Copyright AFP/File ALAIN JOCARD


After years of bad press and scandal, Mark Zuckerberg is seeing his reputation spruced up in the fickle world of tech, largely thanks to the increasingly unpredictable behavior of Elon Musk.

Always bubbling just beneath the surface, the on-again, off-again rivalry between Musk and Facebook creator Zuckerberg has boiled over with the launch of Twitter-clone Threads.

Meta’s new app has provoked the Tesla titan to sue Zuckerberg as well as unfurl a spate of potty-mouthed trolling on Twitter.

“It’s definitely unique to see two people, who obviously are just ungodly wealthy, be in this kind of grudge match,” said Andrew Selepak, assistant media professor at the University of Florida.

“But it does seem a little bit one-sided” with Musk clearly engaging in “childish behavior,” he added.

Any blow-by-blow account requires wading into the often arcane back-and-forth that takes place on social media.

One altercation began on Threads when the official account of fast-food chain Wendy’s made a friendly jibe at Musk’s expense, which Zuckerberg tagged with a laughing emoji.

This quickly met the wrath of the mercurial Tesla boss: “Zuck is a Cuck,” Musk wrote on Twitter, using a slur embraced by the far-right to slander Zuckerberg as a shill for the establishment.

Musk then proposed “a literal dick measuring contest.”

– ‘Learning is failing’ –

Zuckerberg has ignored the provocations, but hasn’t always stayed above the fray.

Two weeks ago, before the release of Threads, he offered, maybe as a joke, to meet Musk for a bare-knuckled cage fight.

And in the hours after Threads was released, he went to Twitter for the first time in more than a decade to post a popular meme of Spider-Man pointing at another Spider-Man — a tacit acknowledgment that, yes, he had copied Twitter.

Zuckerberg, who is 39, now cultivates a calmer image as big tech’s muscle-toned wise man who practices martial arts and cares for his young daughters, all while delivering huge profits.

“Part of learning is failing,” Zuckerberg recently told the Lex Fridman podcast.

“The moment that you decide that you’re going to be too embarrassed to try something new, then you’re not going to learn anything anymore,” he added.

Fading are the memories of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Zuckerberg being hauled in front of US lawmakers to defend his company’s actions during the 2016 US election.

Even last year’s failure to make something out of virtual reality, with billions of dollars written off and thousands of staff fired, has faded from the headlines.

But the Musk antics have helped more than anything to rehabilitate the Facebook founder.

“These attacks by Musk have done nothing but help Zuckerberg’s image,” said tech industry analyst Rob Enderle.

– Evil ‘I can understand’ –

Threads was pushed out last week to Instagram’s 2.3 billion users (except in Europe), and more than 100 million have signed up.

Those praising Threads have often been those who expressed alarm over the years about Facebook and especially the company’s close tracking of users and relentless harvesting of personal data.

Threads, which shows no ads yet, is no different, with users asked to give Meta permission to track them closely across the internet.

Those demands have delayed the app’s launch in Europe where new legislation limits the ability of Meta to track and share data across its family of platforms.

But for analyst Carolina Milanesi, a close observer of the industry, “at least I can understand the evil that is profit-driven, versus Twitter, which is just an egotistic, rich man who has despicable, ethical bearings.”

Blood feuds in the tech industry are not new, with Apple icon Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, for example, known to engage in battles that would leave those on the other side remembering them for years.

“Balmer threw furniture around when people were leaving for Google and there were certainly some interesting stories around the time of Netscape (in the late 1990s), but this is bonkers,” said Enderle.

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The best social media hacks to blow up your following in just a year



The best social media hacks to blow up your following in just a year


Get viral fast. Plus more social media hacks to grow your accounts.

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X Pitches Advertisers on Audience Reach Opportunities in ‘Q5’



X Pitches Advertisers on Audience Reach Opportunities in ‘Q5’

X is making a push to win over advertisers in the holiday season, by promoting its opportunities in “Q5”, which covers the post-Christmas to mid-January period.

As explained by X:

During [Q5], we see reduced CPMs and cost-per-conversion as consumers shop for post-holiday deals and products to support their New Year’s ambitions. Last year, X saw a 5% reduction in the average CPM and a 27% reduction in the average cost-per-conversion1.

Which could present new opportunity to reach a larger audience with your promotions, if indeed they are engaging on X over the holiday period.

“Q5 is filled with a wide variety of tent-pole moments, ranging from the holidays to sports, entertainment and more. With a surge of engagement around these conversations, your brand can remain relevant to your audiences while driving maximum ROI.

X says that, based on engagement data from last year, there are a lot of potential topics of interest for brands.

X also notes that sports video views are surging in the app, up almost 25% YoY over the past 6 months, while vertical video is also gaining momentum.

“Vertical video is the fastest growing surface on X. Over 100M people around the world are consuming vertical video daily at an average of over 13 minutes per day. On many days, vertical video accounts for around 20% of all time spent on the platform.

Though I would advise some caution in trusting these data points.

In recent months, various questions have been raised as to what X counts as a video “view” versus an impression, which is when a post is shown in-feed.

Technically, X counts video views like this:

“The main X video view metric is triggered when a user watches a video for at least 2 seconds and sees at least 50% of the video player in-view. This applies to View metrics for both uploaded videos and live broadcasts.

But that’s different to the actual view count that’s displayed on posts:

“Anyone who is logged into X who views a post counts as a view, regardless of where they see the post (e.g. Home, Search, Profiles, etc.) or whether or not they follow the author. If you’re the author, looking at your own post also counts as a view.

Even worse, X counts multiple views from the same person in that count:

“Multiple views may be counted if you view a post more than once, but not all views are unique. For example, you could look at a post on web and then on your phone, and that would count as two views.

So you can see how the public view count on video posts can massively overstate how many people actually watched a clip, which could be why X is reporting such big spikes in engagement. It just depends on which “view” metric it’s referring to here, actual views or exposure in stream.

Which makes all of these numbers a little difficult to determine, while X owner Elon Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino have also continued to amplify misleading engagement stats via their own X profiles, muddying the waters as to what kind of actual reach and engagement you can expect.

And that’s before you consider the concerns that other advertisers have had with their promotions potentially being displayed alongside harmful or offensive content in the app.

But depending on how you feel about these aspects, and where your target audience is active, it could be worth considering X for your post-holiday promotions, as you look to maximize sales activity over the holiday period.

It’s also worth considering that with fewer big-name brands taking prime spots in the app, there may also be additional opportunity to reach people via X promotions.

There may be value, depending on your strategic thinking, though I would be keeping an eye on actual engagement

You can read more of X’s Q5 insights here.

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Gaza and Instagram make an explosive mix in Hollywood



Gal Gadot regularly posts demands for the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza

Gal Gadot regularly posts demands for the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File Drew Angerer

Audrey Pilon-Topkara

Hollywood celebrities are paying the price for taking sides in the Gaza war — plastering their social media accounts with slogans such as “Free Palestine” or “I stand with Israel”.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot, best known for starring in “Wonder Woman”, has expressed unyielding support for her country since October 7, when Hamas fighters burst out of Gaza, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

“I stand with Israel, you should too,” she declared to her 109 million Instagram followers.

She has continued to regularly publish or share posts demanding that Hamas release the civilians it is holding — earning her both approval and criticism.

“While you’re at it, can you use your platform to share all the missing and killed innocent Palestinians too?” a user on X, formerly Twitter, wrote in response to one of her posts.

In reprisal for the October 7 attacks, Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip and launched a ground invasion, killing more than 17,000 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas government.

The Instagram account of American model Gigi Hadid, who is of Palestinian descent and followed by 79 million, has spent less attention on fashion in recent weeks.

She cited the “systemic mistreatment of the Palestinian people by the government of Israel”.

“Stop spreading lies. You and your sisters are antisemitic,” said one comment, with many others expressing similar views.

Famous stars can generate equally strong admiration and repulsion from the public, especially if they comment on divisive issues.

Well before social media, boxer Muhammad Ali, the actor Jane Fonda and singer Bob Dylan were adored or hated over their opposition to the Vietnam War.

More recently the actors Ben Stiller, Angelina Jolie and Sean Penn showed their support for Ukraine by visiting the country, in moves that were approved by most of their Western fans.

– Insults –

But the Israel-Palestinian issue is more divisive than most, exposing celebrities to even fiercer backlashes.

Kylie Jenner, the half-sister of socialite Kim Kardashian, shared a pro-Israeli post with her 399 million Instagram followers shortly after October 7, which according to US media she deleted an hour later after being hit with insults.

The Oscar-winning actor Susan Sarandon was dropped by her talent agency in November for comments she made at a pro-Palestinian rally, for which she later apologised.

Melissa Barrera, star of the fifth and sixth instalments of the “Scream” franchise, was cut from the cast of the seventh by the producers, who said they had “zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred”.

The Mexican had denounced what she called “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza.

Celebrities who take sides in the conflict have “a lot to lose and little to gain”, said Nicolas Vanderbiest, founder of the public relations firm Saper Vedere in Brussels.

Producers and sponsors have little appetite for mixing geopolitics and business, he said.

In this issue, two “extremely organised” communities are on the lookout, creating a “herd affect”, Vanderbiest added.

Tom Cruise prevented his own agent from losing her job after she had referred to “genocide” on her Instagram account, according to the cinema trade press.

Celebrities could just stay quiet, but with this conflict there is “pressure to pronounce” and no immunity from criticism, said Jamil Jean-Marc Dakhlia, a professor of information and communication at Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris.

“Silence is seen as taking a position,” Dakhlia said. “So we are in a situation where you are forced to take sides, and not necessarily with much nuance.”

American singer and actor Selena Gomez, with 429 million Instagram followers, has been criticised for not taking a stronger stance on the issue.

Along with hundreds of others, including Hadid, singer Jennifer Lopez and actor Joaquin Phoenix, she took a middle road, signing a petition calling for a ceasefire and the safe release of hostages.

Earlier, hundreds of celebrities, including Gadot, had signed an open letter thanking US President Joe Biden for supporting “the Jewish people” and calling for the release of all hostages held by Hamas.

Very few signed both.

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