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Social Media News: Twitter Conversation Participants, Facebook Will Allow Users to See Fewer Political Ads, A Browser Extension to Unhide Instagram Likes and More

This week in social media news: Twitter gives users more control over their conversations, Facebook features to see fewer political ads are launching soon, Facebook updates their Privacy Checkup, Twitter offers more resources to researchers, there’s a browser extension that will unhide Instagram likes and Facebook bans deepfakes.

Twitter “conversation participants” feature soon to launch

Twitter’s director of product management, Suzanne Xie announced a new feature that helps control who can participate in your conversations on Twitter.

Twitter's new conversation participants feature
Source: Twitter

As reported by the Verge, at the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Xie said that Twitter is adding a feature on the compose screen for users to select who can comment and reply. The four categories are:

  • Global: anyone can reply
  • Group: people you follow and mention can reply
  • Panel: people you specifically mention in the tweet can reply
  • Statement: no one can reply

Twitter says that they are currently drafting this feature and after feedback should be ready to launch later this year. The goal is to reduce harassment and bullying by giving more control over the conversation to the creator.

Facebook feature to see fewer political ads

In a blog post on Thursday, Facebook discussed new features that will allow users to see fewer social and political issue ads.

Facebook says that after research they learned that people want more transparency over who is using ads to try to sway voters and want more control over the ads they see. So here are the updates they are working on:

  • Potential reach that shows users how many people the advertiser was trying to reach with their targeting. This could essentially show you how many people initially saw the advertisement.
  • Better search features and filters in the Ad Library. This would allow for better research for voters, journalists, academics, etc.
  • Control over what Custom Audience lists you appear on. “For example, if a candidate has chosen to exclude you from seeing certain fundraising ads because they don’t think you will donate again, but you still want a chance to see those ads, you can stop yourself from being excluded.”
  • Seeing fewer political and social issue ads. This feature will allow you to better control what topics and interests appear for you.

Facebook continued to say that they are standing behind their political ad policy. They are choosing not to limit the targeting of the ads (like Google), not to ban ads completely (like Twitter) and won’t ban false information.

The platform still won’t allow hate speech, harmful content and content designed to intimidate voters or stop them from exercising their right to vote.

Facebook updates Privacy Checkup

This is the first time the Privacy Checkup tool has been updated since 2014 and it’s supposed to help users understand and protect their data.

Facebook Privacy Checkup tool
Source: Facebook

The update covers four topics: who can see what you share, how to keep your account secure, how people can find you on Facebook, and your data settings on Facebook.

“Who can see what you share” gives you an overview of what personal information is visible on your profile. Things that might be seen are phone number, email address and posts.

The “how to keep your account secure” page will have you create a stronger password and turn on login alerts.

“How people can find you” will show you how people can look you up on Facebook and who can send you friend requests.

Finally, “your data settings on Facebook” shows you information you’ve shared with other apps by logging in through Facebook. You can also remove access to any apps on this page.

Facebook has also integrated some privacy tips throughout the app to help users make decisions about their settings.

Twitter offers resources to researchers

The new page is called “Twitter data for academic researchers.”

Picture representing API from Twitter's data for academic researchers web page.
Source: Twitter

Developers can gain access to Twitter’s “public conversational data” by applying for an account online. The page details different API’s that Twitter offers and tools for researchers covering topics like data integration and access, analysis, visualization, and infrastructure and hosting.

On the page they write, “At Twitter, we value the contributions of academic researchers and see the potential for them to help us better understand our platform, keeping us accountable, while helping us tackle new challenges through discoveries and innovations.”

A Techcrunch article suggests that this is related to the 2020 U.S. elections and concerns about meddling. Having a more open conversation with researches should help keep Twitter accountable.

A browser extension that lets you unhide likes on Instagram

If you are a part of Instagram’s hiding likes roll out, but you really want to see the number of likes on a post, there’s a browser extension for you.

Socialinsider browser extension to unhide likes
Source: Socialinsider

The extension from Socialinsider only works for the desktop version (not the mobile app) of Instagram on Chrome. You can download the extension here.

Techcrunch reached out to Instagram to see if the extension complies with their rules. They haven’t heard back yet, but it will be interesting to see if Instagram closes the loophole.

Facebook bans deepfakes but not all doctored videos

The Washington Post reported that Facebook has banned highly manipulated videos (deepfakes), but the new policy is a little thin.

The Post says that the new policy doesn’t prohibit all doctored videos. So the edited video of Nancy Pelosi that slowed down the speed and changed the voice to make her sound inebriated, is still technically allowed.

As the U.S. 2020 elections near, people are wary about the spread of misinformation. Banning deepfakes is a step in the right direction, but why does the ban not extend to other editing techniques that can still be used to spread falsities?

Facebook says that in the future they plan to ban manipulated videos that are “edited or synthesized” in a way that the average person wouldn’t catch. Parody or satire videos will not be banned

Hashtag Holidays

Happy New Year! We can’t wait to see what 2020 has to offer! Here’s some fun #holidays to get the decade rolling:

  • January 14 – #DressUpYourPetDay
  • January 15 – #NationalHatDay

If you don’t follow our social channels then you probably missed our monthly hashtag calendars, along with other insightful information and entertaining content. So make sure to follow @getskedsocial on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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