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X Looks to Improve Content Moderation After Issues with AI Images and Bot Farms

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X Looks to Improve Content Moderation After Issues with AI Images and Bot Farms

Content moderation remains a major challenge on X, despite owner Elon Musk insisting that its crowd-sourced Community Notes are the key solution for combatting harmful content.

Last week, AI-generated images of singer Taylor Swift being sexually assaulted by NFL fans gained huge traction on X, reaching over 27 million views, and 260,000 likes, before the originating account was suspended.

Swift is now reportedly exploring legal action against X and the creator of the content, while X, unable to stop the spread of the pictures, despite that initial suspension, has now banned all searches for “Taylor Swift” in the app in response.

Which is not exactly a great endorsement of the effectiveness of its Community Notes approach. And while this content is in violation of X’s Sensitive Media policy, and would therefore be removed regardless of Community Notes being issued, the fact that X hasn’t been able to stop the images being spread suggests that the platform could be leaning too much into its crowd-sourced moderation approach, as opposed to hiring its own content moderators.

Which X is looking to address. Today, X announced that it’s building a new, 100-person content moderation center in Texas, which will focus on child sexual abuse content, but will also be tasked with managing other elements as well.

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That’s seemingly an admission that Community Notes can’t be relied upon to do all the heavy lifting in this respect. But at the same time, X’s new “freedom of speech, not reach” approach is centered around the fact that its user community should be who decides what’s acceptable and what’s not in the app, and that there shouldn’t be a central arbiter of moderation decisions, as there had been on Twitter in the past.

Community Notes, at least in theory, addresses this, but clearly, more needs to be done to tackle the broader spread of harmful material. While that the same time, X’s claims that it’s eradicating bots have also come under more scrutiny.

As reported by The Guardian, the German Government has reportedly uncovered a vast network of Russian-originated bots in the app, which were coordinating to seed anti-Ukraine sentiment among German users.

As per The Guardian:

Using specialized monitoring software, the experts uncovered a huge trail of posts over a one-month period from 10 December, which amounted to a sophisticated and concerted onslaught on Berlin’s support for Ukraine. More than 1m German-language posts were sent from an estimated 50,000 fake accounts, amounting to a rate of two every second. The overwhelming tone of the messages was the suggestion that the government of Olaf Scholz was neglecting the needs of Germans as a result of its support for Ukraine, both in terms of weapons and aid, as well as by taking in more than a million refugees.

X has been working to eradicate bot farms of this type by using “payment verification” as a means to ensure that real people are behind every profile in the app, both by pushing users towards its X Premium verification program, and through a new test of a $1 fee to engage in the app.

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In theory, that should make bot programs like this increasingly cost-prohibitive, thereby limiting their use. If the $1 fee were in place in Germany, for example (it’s currently being tested in New Zealand and the Philippines), it would have cost this operation $50k just to begin.

Though, evidently, that also hasn’t been the impediment that X had hoped, with various verified bot profiles still posting automated messages in the app.

Essentially, X’s solutions to tackle content moderation and bots, the two key issues of focus repeatedly stated by Elon as his main drivers in evolving the app, have thus far not worked out as planned. Which has led to distrust among ad partners and regulators, and broader concerns about the platform’s shift away from human moderation.

X clearly needs to improve on both fronts, and as noted, it has seemingly acknowledged this by announcing plans for more human moderators. But that also comes with increased costs, and with X’s margins already being crushed due to key ad partners pausing their campaigns, it has some work ahead of it to get its systems on the right track.

Content moderation is a major challenge for every platform, and it always seemed unlikely that X would be able to cull 80% of its team and still maintain the operational capacity to police these elements.

Maybe, through improved machine learning, it can still keep costs down and enhance its monitoring systems. But it’s another challenge for the Musk-owned app, which could see more users and brands looking elsewhere.    

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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