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YouTube’s Removing the Option to Hide Subscriber Counts, Adding Improved Auto Moderation Tools



YouTube's Removing the Option to Hide Subscriber Counts, Adding Improved Auto Moderation Tools

YouTube has announced some new updates designed to further limit spam and misuse, including the removal of the option to hide channel subscriber counts, and a new increased strictness setting within its auto-moderation tools.

First off, on subscriber counts – right now, YouTube channels can choose not to display their subscriber count, which some users may prefer if they feel that it could turn away viewers or reduce credibility.

But YouTube has found that this option is also often used by channels impersonating platform stars.

As per YouTube:

While we’re aware that some creators find this feature valuable, as YouTube grows, we found it is often used to impersonate channels. Bad actors often lure people to their channel page by impersonating other creators in comments. And now, channels will no longer be able to hide their subscriber pens on YouTube.”

So it’s not on the channels themselves that this is necessarily a problem, but if a user is impersonating a famous YouTuber in the comments, and they hide their subscriber count, that can make it harder for regular users to know whether this is the real person making a comment or not.

So now, these scammers will have fewer options to obscure their identity, as users will be able to see, straight away, that it clearly isn’t PewDiePie making a comment, as he has more than nine subscribers.

It’s a good update, and while some users would prefer not to have their subscriber count displayed, it seems like a small trade-off for increased transparency and security in the app.

But if you’ve been telling people that you have more subscribers than you do, maybe it’s time to shut down your YouTube account. Just claim that you were banned for your controversial opinions or something.

YouTube says that the update will go into effect by the end of July.

On another front, YouTube’s also giving channel managers more capacity to filter out junk comments, by updating the ‘strictness’ of the auto-moderation tool for their channel.

As you can see here, the new, enhanced strictness option will be available within your channel settings, with a simple checkbox to ‘Increase Strictness’.

“Turning on these settings will increase detection settings for potentially inappropriate comments and spam. With this new stronger setting, you should notice more spam and solicitations being automatically filtered under your Held for Review tab rather than making it through to your audience.”

Finally, YouTube’s also implementing new limits on the amount of special characters that people can use within their Channel name.

Using special characters in channel names is another way that bad actors impersonate established channels. So we’re reducing the character set that creators can choose from when updating their name moving forward.

Essentially, this will make it harder for people to impersonate channels by using characters that look like letters and numbers, which can create confusion, and facilitate misrepresentation.

These are all small changes in isolation, but they could have a significant impact as a whole, as YouTube works to combat bad actors looking to use its app to dupe unsuspecting users.

And at 2 billion users, the capacity for YouTube to be used for scams is significant, which is why every little step matters in this process.

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Social media frenzy fuels bank busting panic



Social media frenzy fuels bank busting panic

Copyright ANP/AFP Sem van der Wal

Juliette MICHEL

Fearful Twitter posts and anxious WhatsApp exchanges coupled with online banking ease are seen as helping power an internet-age run on a pair of now-collapsed American lending institutions.

Both Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were hit with massive withdrawals by customers fearful of losing their money, but the speed was dizzying in an age when rumors spread like wildfire on social media and apps make moving funds with the click of a button simple.

Congressman Patrick McHenry, chairman of the US House Financial Services Committee, referred to the recent turmoil as “the first Twitter fueled bank run.”

Some messages that caused cold sweats among financial customers proved to be misleading, prompting calls to focus on facts not speculation.

Gone is the time when a “run on the bank” meant mobs of customers banging on bolted doors and demanding deposits back.

Now, as rumors of dwindling bank reserves ricochets about social media, customers can make them real by tapping into online accounts to transfer money.

Federal authorities took over Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) last week less than 48 hours after it first announced bad news.

The forced closure of Signature Bank came just two days later.

In between, high-profile entrepreneurs sounded an alarm and fired off advice on Twitter.

Investor Bill Ackman tweeted during the weekend that if federal regulators didn’t quickly step in and guarantee all deposits, runs on other banks would start Monday.

“You should be absolutely terrified right now,” investor Jason Calacanis tweeted, using all capital letters for emphasis.

“That is the proper reaction to a bank run and contagion.”

Meanwhile, startup founders shared bank trouble rumors in WhatsApp groups.

“The mix of technology and fast-moving rumors fueled a crisis of unprecedented speed,” researcher Jonathan Welburn of the Rand Corporation think tank told AFP.

Online banking was around during the 2008 financial crisis, but “the adoption of these technologies is definitely increasing,” he said.

– Circuit breakers? –

Banking regulators need to put in place “circuit breakers” that could quickly suspend banking transactions in the event of cyber attacks, weather disasters, or customer panic, said Hilary Allen, a specialist in financial technologies at American University in Washington.

This is a “very political” undertaking, Allen said.

“Banking regulators need to think about what this kind of technological circuit breaker would look like, and in which circumstances they would be ready to deploy it.”

Markets have seen the power of online platforms trigger surges in the prices of “meme stocks” like video game retail chain Game Stop and AMC Theaters due to endorsements in chat forums at Reddit.

“The flip side is that social media can also exacerbate panic and loss of confidence,” Allen said.

In the case of SVB, fears which spread on social media resonated loudly with the bank’s customers, who tended to be tech-savvy entrepreneurs keenly tuned in to online chatter.

The collapse of SVB was the second largest bank failure in the United States but played out in barely two days.

The largest bank failure in the country, that of Washington Mutual in 2008, took place over the course of eight months.

At that time, Twitter and iPhones were fledgling products; there were no WhatsApp groups, no Slack chat threads, Welburn noted.

“What happens when bankers are drowning their sorrows in the social media age?” Welburn wondered.

“Viral posts, retweets and shares could deprive regulators of precious time.”

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Marketing Briefing: U.S. marketers prepare contingency plans amid potential TikTok ban



Marketing Briefing: U.S. marketers prepare contingency plans amid potential TikTok ban

With the possibility of a TikTok ban in the U.S. once again gaining traction, some marketers and agency execs say they’re readying contingency plans. Others, meanwhile, say that the uncertainty of a potential ban makes it difficult to forecast where spend would be moved.

“We’ve seen so many platforms have their peaks and valleys with their growth journeys that having multiple contingency plans for everything that could happen is part of what we do,” said Han Wen, L’Oreal chief marketing and digital officer, when asked about the potential ban. “As one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., we have to be extremely practical when we think about the directions our investment can take, so having contingency plans is part of everything we do for every media partner we have.”

While there is a renewed sense of uncertainty when it comes to TikTok in the U.S., especially after President Biden’s demand last week that TikTok’s Chinese owners Bytedance sell off their shares or deal with a U.S. ban of the app, marketers and agency execs have already dealt with previous rounds of uncertainty with the app, particularly former President Trump’s same demand that Bytedance sell off TikTok. Given that the likelihood of a ban is still up in the air, marketers and agency execs are choosing between making contingency plans and waiting for a firm answer.

“We also know enough to know we are not in a place to read the tea leaves with what may or may not happen,” said Wen. “All we can do is make sure we have plans in place, which we do. And we have plans in place for all of the various scenarios.”

Marketers and agency execs say the conversation around contingency plans tends to focus on other short-form video apps like Instagram’s Reels, YouTube’s Shorts and Snapchat.

“The impact on potential spending is likely to be diffuse — we don’t see brands necessarily planning to move their entire TikTok spend to one other platform,” said Liz Cole, executive director, U.S. head of social at VMLY&R. “From a creative perspective, we can expect the content itself to adapt to a number of other short-form video platforms including Instagram, Snap or YouTube. And for brands further upstream in the creative process, they might choose to tell their story across a variety of other formats.”

Of course, should TikTok be banned, determining where to focus creative efforts or move media dollars wouldn’t be the only consideration for marketers. “If TikTok was banned, other than stopping media on the platform, the other immediate priority for advertisers and publishers would be for brands to remove any TikTok tracking pixel,” said UM global chief media officer, Joshua Lowcock.

At the same time, the potential ripple effects of a possible ban for TikTok don’t stop at TikTok.

 “I think it’s a misnomer to call it a TikTok ban,” said Lowcock. “If you look at the proposed legislation, it’s really about foreign government ownership and control, this could play out as a challenge for other companies that are Chinese-owned, controlled, or have China as a substantial investor.”

The ban could also make advertisers, already a risk averse bunch, even more so now. 

“If TikTok were to become a non-viable channel for advertisers so soon after its entrance to the mainstream, it could increase hesitance among brands to try new social platforms,” said Cole. “Not every advertiser had the confidence to leap onto TikTok when its popularity first surged, and I could see some of the slower movers viewing this as confirmation that a more cautious, less experimental stance is warranted.” 

The uncertainty of the longevity of a social platform — whether in popularity or availability — has also been made clearer this year overall. “We can’t take the longevity of any social platform for granted, no matter how popular or established it seems,” said Cole. “That doesn’t mean brands should hold back from trying any new things — but they need to have a strategy that is grounded in the brand itself and the behaviors of consumers, not just the features of specific channels.” 

3 Questions with OAAA’s President and CEO Anna Bager

OAAA recently partnered with Morning Consult to take a look at the current out-of-home advertising marketplace. Tell us about that.

We wanted to understand how consumers move around. But we also wanted to understand, specifically, how some audiences that are hard to reach with other media formats, from underserved [or] under underprivileged and underdeveloped audiences that are in areas where you may not have access to other forms of media, how they are exposed to our ads, both from an advertising perspective but also just a health and public service messaging. We see that consumers are out and about more often. 88% of these consumers notice out of home ads and 78% recently engaged in some way, which really demonstrates the influence of our medium.

What does this mean for the advertising industry?

With OOH ads, it doesn’t really interrupt your media consumption. It’s sort of just there. It’s often seen as a service and it’s being noticed. You can’t skip it, you can’t block it. So it’s a great way of connecting with consumers. Then, we’re a one to many medium. Ads can be perceived as for you only and there are certain environments where it’s very close to that. But for the most part, it’s seen by many, which means that we don’t have the privacy challenges that you have online. That is a plus in today’s environment where regulation is getting increasingly hard when it comes to how you use data and then also how you can do to target consumers.

The OAAA has their annual OOH Media Conference coming up at the end of March. What can attendees expect?

The theme of the conference is breakthrough. We don’t really want to talk about the pandemic anymore. But it’s not a secret exactly that we were down in the pandemic. And now we’re back, so it’s about our industry breaking through. It’s also about the tech coming back. We’re now the fastest growing ad medium of all. We had a great 2022 and it looks like 2023 that as well. It’s also about [how] our industry has gone through and continued to go through massive technological change. –– Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

People expect more from the brands they shop with nowadays. In response, advertisers have spent at least the last year ramping up more full-funnel marketing strategies, which include brand building and direct response marketing. Expect more of the same this year, according to new research released by Reach3 Insights and The Keller Advisory Group, which reports that shoppers more often prefer brand experiences over traditional advertising. Find more details from the report below:

  • Consumers prefer brand experiences such as social media content, creator content, metaverse happenings and live events over traditional advertising by 69% to 48%.
  • The research shows 80% of consumers have engaged or are interested in engaging with brand experiences, with 43% saying engaging with brand experiences would make them more apt to want to try a brand as compared to just 21% who said so about traditional advertising.
  • once consumers engage with brand experiences, they find them to be more relevant than traditional advertising, with 51% saying so compared to 25% who feel traditional advertising is more relevant. — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“When there’s mass layoffs, there will be two or three weeks where we as publishers get very frustrated because we don’t get a response.”

— said Phil Ranta, COO of We Are Verified, when asked about the impact of Meta, Snapchat and Twitter layoffs on agency relationships.

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Musk Vows to Open Source Twitter’s Algorithm Next Week



As Twitter Continues to Break, Musk Seeks Answers About Declining Engagement on His Tweets

It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out, and the flow-on effects of this approach:

As Elon Musk has been pledging for some time, Twitter will soon publish the details of how its tweet recommendation algorithm/s work, which will provide new insight into which tweets gain traction, how to maximize tweet reach through engagement, and which specific elements Twitter’s system’s looking to incentivize in the app.

Which may show the specific weightings that replies, retweets and likes are allocated within Twitter’s system, and how they then equate to a metric score for each user, similar to how Facebook’s feed algorithm works.

But Meta has never published the full details of its algorithm, neither has Google for Search, or any other platform – because the concern is that by giving people an in-depth overview of how ranking is applied, that will open the door for spammers and scammers to cheat the process, by having a better working knowledge of what they should be aiming for with their posts.

If retweets get a higher share score, scammers will come up with new methods to game that, the same with likes. And if Twitter does indeed open up the whole algorithm, as Musk has implied, that could spark a new flood of spam tweets, based on the specific types of engagement that Twitter’s optimizing for.

And that’s likely now even easier to do. If you know that Twitter is aiming to highlight certain elements, you can take examples of tweets with the highest levels of engagement on those metrics, then enter them into ChatGPT, and have it pump out similar tweets.

With this in mind, this does seem like a risky approach, but Elon is convinced that transparency, in as many aspects as possible, is key to winning user trust, and making Twitter the source of truth, and a more viable, valuable platform for all users.

And actually, Twitter doesn’t even know how its algorithm works anyway:

Though others have seemingly worked out some of the key elements, with the new Twitter approach to content amplification, via the main ‘For You’ feed, looking to highlight content on specific topics, which have already resonated with users.

As explained by Ryan Broderick:

The algorithm seems to prioritize tweets that are talking about already-viral content, as in quote tweets or tweets that can easily fit within trending topics. This would explain, partially, why users are reporting seeing quote tweets about the same posts over and over and over again.

That same approach is quite effective on TikTok, because it enables it to highlight the best-performing content, but the problem on Twitter is that the platform is based on timeliness, and highlighting real-time trends as they unfold. That makes it a little more difficult for Twitter to maintain its real-time relevance within this process, as it also needs to factor engagement signals, which can only accumulate over time, while its topic sorting is more simplistic than TikTok, which can infer a wide range of interests based on each clip.

But that, at least in part, seems to be where Twitter is headed, and it’ll be interesting to note what types of details Twitter can detect in each tweet, and use for ranking, once the information is published.

Also, I wonder if the rumored Elon rule, which ranks his tweets above all others, will be noted in the code samples.

I suspect that it’ll be absent, but it will be interesting to glean more insight into why you’re seeing what you’re seeing in your main tweet feed, and get an understanding of how Twitter’s going about improving relevance, and showing you tweets.

And then, the spam will flow. Maybe. We’ll have to wait and see what comes next.

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