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Twitter now lets everyone limit replies to their tweets

August 11, 2020 No Comments

Twitter may describe itself as the town square, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to everyone walking past your seat at the cafe. Today, to increase the amount of “meaningful conversations” that take place on Twitter, and to help people weed out abuse and spam in their replies, the company announced that it is rolling out a new feature where users can limit who replies to their Tweets.

After a brief run in beta, the feature is rolling out globally starting today to users of the iOS and Android apps, as well as twitter.com, Suzanne Xie noted in a blog post announcing the feature. TweetDeck is not yet supported, Twitter tells me.

A small globe icon will start to appear at the bottom of your tweet, and if you do nothing, everyone will still be able to reply — this is the default option. Or, you can tap it and limit replies just to those who follow you; or just to those who you tag in the tweet itself.

And, if you pick the third of these and tag no one, it’s also a way to broadcast a tweet or a thread of tweets with no replies at all. (This all applies to “open” accounts; those that have locked who can view their tweets are limited by default; and it doesn’t seem to replace the option to hide replies, which Twitter launched last year. We asked and Twitter declined to make any update or statement on the “hide replies” functionality.)

Those who can’t reply will get a greyed-out icon, but they can still view, retweet, retweet with comment and “like” the tweets.

The basic idea behind limiting replies is more control. Specifically, setting parameters around those who can reply can help the original poster curtail abusive or trolling replies, or to limit replies to keep the conversation on track. Both can be especially critical in a number of use cases common on Twitter. Those tweeting about a sensitive issue or a political topic are classic scenarios that bring out trolls. And those trying to broadcast a conversation with a specific group (or indeed in a monologue) with the intention of making that conversation publicly viewable can now do it without interruption.

“Sometimes people are more comfortable talking about what’s happening when they can choose who can reply,” Xie wrote. “We’ve seen people use these settings to have conversations that weren’t really possible before. Starting today, everyone will be able to use these settings so unwanted replies don’t get in the way of meaningful conversations.”

Xie said that beta test feedback has been positive. Those using the feature said they felt more comfortable and protected from spam and abuse, and the feature is getting used: It found that those who have submitted abuse reports and had access to the new limit reply tool were three times more likely to use the settings.

It seems that limiting replies is more of a complement to, not a replacement for, muting and blocking: 60% of those using the limit replies feature weren’t already muting and blocking other users. Xie doesn’t mention how it is used alongside another spam-controlling feature Twitter launched last year, hiding replies.

People who are limited from replying directly can still retweet with a comment, and thus still inject whatever they want to say. But Xie noted that “these settings prevented an average of three potentially abusive replies while only adding one potentially abusive retweet with comment,” adding that there was no uptick in unwanted direct messages, either.

The feature getting announced today has been a while in the making, both from a product and even longer from an idealogical point of view.

The concept for limiting replies was first announced back at January at CES, when Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s VP of Product said that the primary motivation [for the feature] was control. “We want to build on the theme of authors getting more control and we’ve thought … that there are many analogs of how people have communications in life,” he said at the time.

The feature then formally started to roll out in a limited test in May, and the version that is getting turned on today looks just like that. (In fact, the screen shots are exactly the same, except with a more recent date on the tweets.)

But the bigger thinking behind the new feature stretches back earlier than this year.

Twitter has long (as in years now) been working on creating better ways to channel its open-ended social platform to keep it from getting exploited and abused.

The issue stems from the platform’s basic DNA: Twitter was built around the idea of anyone being able to reply to anyone else, regardless of whether two users follow each other, or whether someone wants to hear a certain response. The issue, some argue, is that Twitter has dragged its feet because the open-ended aspect is actually in Twitter’s best business interest, since it encourages more engagement and use. (For a recent example of that argument pertaining specifically to cancel culture conversations, see here.)

Admittedly, it can be one of the more empowering feelings you can have on this big internet of ours, to be able to reply to someone on Twitter when you have an opinion on something, or just a question. Never mind that the reply may never come, or come from an army of trolls. And indeed, that open-ended aspect hasn’t always played out as a positive every time.

People, some of whom might be vulnerable or going through difficult situations, can be singled out for negative responses by other users, leading some of them to leave Twitter altogether, sometimes in very high-profile incidents. At a time when social media has become ever more influential and is being criticized by many asking whether it is fair enough, responsible enough and responsive enough in relation to the (incendiary and other) content that bounces around its playing fields, it has been a bad look for Twitter, and it’s been trying for years now to fix it. 

I’m guessing that some will decry the move to limit replies as a curtailing of free speech and free expression, that it might give a stronger voice to those who are actually using Twitter to disseminate abusive information themselves, by potentially limiting how people can respond.

There are a couple of counter arguments, though. One is that people can still see and retweet what someone says, one way of responding. A retweet with comment can still be pretty powerful: Sometimes these tweets can go viral and be seen even more than the original tweets themselves.

Xie noted that people will be able to see when replies have been limited, and that Twitter is working on ways of making that more obvious. That might well include pointing people to further information elsewhere. And the new timeline containing “Retweets with Comments” launched in May gets four times more visits on Tweets using these settings, Xie said.

There have, in fact, been a number of tweaks to reduce the amount of noise on the platform: Last year Twitter turned on the ability to hide replies, and over the years Twitter has improved the process for reporting harassment (including a number of updates and tests around harmful language), blocking people (although it seems this has some people contesting it) and muting people.

And it’s worth pointing out that Twitter has been making a lot of efforts to better detect and help users report original tweets that are abusive, discriminatory, contain fake news and the rest.

That might be the most important point here. This is a net positive for the platform, but still just one step in a long journey to work on improving the climate on Twitter overall.


Social – TechCrunch


Daily Crunch: Twitter and Facebook take action against Trump

August 10, 2020 No Comments

Facebook and Twitter are taking a stronger stand against pandemic misinformation, we preview the latest version of macOS and a mental health startup raises $ 50 million. Here’s your Daily Crunch for August 6, 2020.

The big story: Twitter, Facebook take action against Trump misinformation

Facebook and Twitter both took action against a post from President Donald Trump and his campaign featuring a clip from a Fox News interview in which he misleadingly described children as “almost immune” to COVID-19. Facebook took down the offending post, while Twitter went further and locked the Trump campaign out of its account (separate from Trump’s personal account).

“The @TeamTrump Tweet you referenced is in violation of the Twitter Rules on COVID-19 misinformation,” Twitter’s Aly Pavela said in a statement. “The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again.”

Meanwhile, Twitter also announced today that it will be labeling accounts tied to state-controlled media organizations and government officials (but not heads of state).

The tech giants

macOS 11.0 Big Sur preview — Big Sur is the operating system’s first primary number upgrade in 20 years, and Brian Heater says it represents a big step forward in macOS’ evolution.

Apple 27-inch iMac review — This will be one of the last Macs to include Intel silicon.

Uber picks up Autocab to push into places its own app doesn’t go — Uber plans to use Autocab’s technology to link users with local providers when they open the app in locations where Uber doesn’t offer rides.

Startups, funding and venture capital

On-demand mental health service provider Ginger raises $ 50 million — Through Ginger’s services, patients have access to a care coordinator who serves as the first point of entry into a company’s mental health plans.

Mode raises $ 33 million to supercharge its analytics platform for data scientists — Mode has also been introducing tools for less technical users to structure queries that data scientists can subsequently execute more quickly and with more complete responses.

Crossbeam announces $ 25 million Series B to keep growing partnerships platform — Crossbeam is a Philadelphia startup that automates partnership data integration.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Can learning pods scale, or are they widening edtech’s digital divide? — In recent weeks, the concept has taken off all across the country.

Eight trends accelerating the age of commercial-ready quantum computing — Venrock’s Ethan Batraski writes that in the last 12 months, there have been meaningful breakthroughs in quantum computing from academia, venture-backed companies and industry.

5 VCs on the future of Michigan’s startup ecosystem — According to the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), there are 144 venture-backed startup companies in Michigan, up 12% over the last five years.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

More Chinese phone makers could lose US apps under Trump’s Clean Network — The Trump administration’s five-pronged Clean Network initiative aims to strip away Chinese phone makers’ ability to pre-install and download U.S. apps.

UK reported to be ditching coronavirus contact tracing in favor of ‘risk rating’ app — Reports suggest a launch of the much-delayed software will happen this month, but also that the app will no longer be able to automatically carry out contact tracing.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


Social – TechCrunch


Facebook extends coronavirus work from home policy until July 2021

August 8, 2020 No Comments

Facebook has joined Google in saying it will allow employees to work from home until the middle of next year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021,” a spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency.

Facebook also said it will provide employees with an additional $ 1,000 to spend on “home office needs.”

Late last month Google also extended its coronavirus remote work provision, saying staff would be able to continue working from home until the end of June 2021.

Both tech giants have major office presences in a number of cities around the world. And despite the pandemic forcing them into offering more flexible working arrangements than they usually do, the pair have continued to build out their physical office footprints, signaling a commitment to operating their own workplaces. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how much money they’ve ploughed in over the years to turn offices into perk-filled playgrounds designed to keep staff on site for longer — with benefits such as free snacks and meals, nap pods, video games arcade rooms and even health centers.)

Earlier this month, Facebook secured the main office lease on an iconic building in New York, for example — adding 730,000 square feet to its existing 2.2 million square feet of office space. Google has continued to push ahead with a flagship development in the U.K. capital’s King’s Cross area, with work resuming last month on the site for its planned London “landscraper” HQ.

In late July, Apple said staff won’t return to offices until at least early 2021 — cautioning that any return to physical offices would depend on whether an effective vaccine and/or successful therapeutics are available. So the iPhone maker looks prepared for a home-working coronavirus long haul.

As questions swirl over the future of the physical office now that human contact is itself a public health risk, the deepest pocketed tech giants are paradoxically showing they’re not willing to abandon the traditional workplace altogether and go all in on modern technologies that allow office work to be done remotely.

Twitter is an exception. During the first wave of the pandemic the social network firmly and fully embraced remote work, telling staff back in May that they can work from home forever if they wish.

Whether remote work played any role in the company’s recent account breach is one open question. It has said phone spear phishing was used to trick staff to gain network access credentials.

Certainly, security concerns have been generally raised about the risk of more staff working remotely during the pandemic — where they may be outside a corporate firewall and more vulnerable to attackers.

A Facebook spokeswoman did not respond when we asked whether the company will offer its own staff the option to work remotely permanently. But the company does not appear prepared to go so far — not least judging by signing new leases on massive office spaces.

Facebook has been retooling its approach to physical offices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing in May it would be setting up new company hubs in Denver, Dallas and Atlanta.

It also said it would focus on finding new hires in areas near its existing offices — including in cities such as San Diego, Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said then that over the course of the next decade half of the company could be working fully remotely. Though he said certain kinds of roles would not be eligible for all-remote work — such as those doing work in divisions like hardware development, data centers, recruiting, policy and partnerships.


Social – TechCrunch


TikTok announces first data center in Europe

August 6, 2020 No Comments

TikTok, the Chinese video sharing app that’s found itself at the center of a geopolitical power struggle which threatens to put hard limits on its global growth this year, said today it will build its first data center in Europe.

The announcement of a TikTok data center in the EU also follows a landmark ruling by Europe’s top court last month that put international data transfers in the spotlight, dialling up the legal risk around processing data outside the bloc.

TikTok said the forthcoming data center, which will be located in Ireland, will store the data of its European users once it’s up and running (which is expected by early 2022) — with a slated investment into the country of around €420M (~$ 497M), according to a blog post penned by global CISO, Roland Cloutier.

“This investment in Ireland… will create hundreds of new jobs and play a key role in further strengthening the safeguarding and protection of TikTok user data, with a state of the art physical and network security defense system planned around this new operation,” Cloutier wrote, adding that the regional data centre will have the added boon for European users of faster load times, improving the overall experience of using the app.

The social media app does not break out regional users — but a leaked ad deck suggested it had 17M+ MAUs in Europe at the start of last year.

The flipside of TikTok’s rise to hot social media app beloved of teens everywhere has been earning itself the ire of US president Trump — who earlier this month threatened to use executive powers to ban TikTok in the US unless it sells its US business to an American company. (Microsoft is in the frame as a buyer.)

Whether Trump has the power to block TikTok’s app is debatable. Tech savvy teenagers will surely deploy all their smarts to get around any geoblocks. But operational disruption looks inevitable — and that has been forcing TikTok to make a series of strategic tweaks in a bid to limit damage and/or avoid the very worst outcomes.

Since taking office the US president has shown himself willing to make international business extremely difficult for Chinese tech firms. In the case of mobile device and network kit maker, Huawei, Trump has limited domestic use of its tech and leant on allies to lock it out of their 5G networks (with some success) — citing national security concerns from links to the Chinese Communist Party.

His beef with TikTok is the same stated national security concerns, centered on its access to user data. (Though Trump may have his own personal reasons to dislike the app.)

TikTok, like every major social media app, gathers huge amounts of user data — which its privacy policy specifies it may share user data with third parties, including to fulfil “government inquiries”. So while its appetite for personal data looks much the same as US social media giants (like Facebook) its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, is subject to China’s Internet Security Law — which since 2017 has given the Chinese Chinese Communist Party sweeping powers to obtain data from digital companies. And while the US has its own intrusive digital surveillance laws, the existence of a Chinese mirror of the US state-linked data industrial complex has put tech firms right at the heart of geopolitics.

TikTok has been taking steps to try to insulate its international business from US-fuelled security concerns — and also provide some incentives to Trump for not quashing it — hiring Disney executive Kevin Mayer on as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance in May, and promising to create 10,000 jobs in the U.S., as well as claiming US user data is stored in the US.

In parallel it’s been reconfiguring how it operates in Europe, setting up an EMEA Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin, Ireland at the start of this year and building out its team on the ground. In June it also updated its regional terms of service — naming its Irish subsidiary as the local data controller alongside its UK entity, meaning European users’ data no longer falls under its US entity, TikTok Inc.

This reflects distinct rules around personal data which apply across the European Union and European Economic Area. So while European political leaders have not been actively attacking TikTok in the same way as Trump, the company still faces increased legal risk in the region.

Last month CJEU judges made it clear that data transfers to third countries can only be legal if EU users’ data is not being put at risk by problematic surveillance laws and practices. The CJEU ruling (aka ‘Schrems II’) means data processing in countries such as China and India — and, indeed, the US — are now firmly in the risk frame where EU data protection law is concerned.

One way of avoiding this risk is to process European users’ data locally. So TikTok opening a data center in Ireland may also be a response to Schrems II — in that it will offer a way for it to ensure it can comply with requirements flowing from the ruling.

Privacy commentators have suggested the CJEU decision may accelerate data localization efforts — a trend that’s also being seen in countries such as China and Russia (and, under Trump, the US too it seems).

EU data watchdogs have also warned there will be no grace period following the CJEU invalidating the US-EU Privacy Shield data transfer mechanism. While those using other still valid tools for international transfers are bound to carry out an assessment — and either suspend data flows if they identify risks or inform a supervisor that the data is still flowing (which could in turn trigger an investigation).

The EU’s data protection framework, GDPR, bakes in stiff penalties for violations — with fines that can hit 4% of a company’s global annual turnover. So the business risk around EU data protection is no longer small, even as wider geopolitical risks are upping the uncertainty for global Internet players.

“Protecting our community’s privacy and data is and will continue to be our priority,” TikTok’s CISO writes, adding: “Today’s announcement is just the latest part of our ongoing work to enhance our global capability and efforts to protect our users and the TikTok community.”


Social – TechCrunch


Decrypted: How a teenager hacked Twitter, Garmin’s ransomware aftermath

August 4, 2020 No Comments

A 17-year-old Florida teenager is accused of perpetrating one of the year’s biggest and most high-profile hacks: Twitter.

A federal 30-count indictment filed in Tampa said Graham Ivan Clark used a phone spearphishing attack to pivot through multiple layers of Twitter’s security and bypassed its two-factor authentication to gain access to an internal “admin” tool that let the hacker take over any account. With two accomplices named in a separate federal indictment, Clark — who went by the online handle “Kirk” — allegedly used the tool to hijack the accounts of dozens of celebrities and public figures, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk and former president Barack Obama, to post a cryptocurrency scam netting over $ 100,000 in bitcoin in just a few hours.

It was, by all accounts, a sophisticated attack that required technical skills and an ability to trick and deceive to pull off the scam. Some security professionals were impressed, comparing the attack to one that had the finesse and professionalism of a well-resourced nation-state attacker.

But a profile in The New York Times describes Clark was an “adept scammer with an explosive temper.”

In the teenager’s defense, the attack could have been much worse. Instead of pushing a scam that promised to “double your money,” Clark and his compatriots could have wreaked havoc. In 2013, hackers hijacked the Associated Press’ Twitter account and tweeted a fake bomb attack on the White House, sending the markets plummeting — only to quickly recover after the all-clear was given.

But with control of some of the world’s most popular Twitter accounts, Clark was for a few hours in July one of the most powerful people in the world. If found guilty, the teenager could spend his better years behind bars.

Here’s more from the past week.


THE BIG PICTURE

Garmin hobbles back after ransomware attack, but questions remain


Social – TechCrunch


The impact of Coronavirus on digital marketing and effective solutions

August 3, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Digital marketing is not a quick-fix solution to gain momentum. It does not give you visibility overnight. If you are using digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing (SMM).
  • Consumer behavior has changed drastically. We all see a different consumer today. 
  • The pressing question remains, “What strategies should digital marketers follow?”  
  • Co-founder of Lbswebsoft gives you a quick look at some strategic steps that can help your digital marketing and ecommerce efforts during Coronavirus times.

The outspread of coronavirus disease (COVID 19) has affected everyone on the planet. This is for the first time in the history of mankind when more than 70% of countries – which include developed, developing, and underdeveloped nations  are under lockdown. It has already caused huge unrest in the global economy. 

People have lost their jobs and are left with no or limited sources of income, companies specifically small and medium cap businesses are shutting down. Giants are putting many of their processes on hold. A number of government organizations, too, have been closed down as a preventive measure for coronavirus spreading. 

How the coronavirus is driving new changes in digital marketing 

Coronavirus lockdown has halted many business processes starting from manufacturing, supply chain to logistics, and marketing.  

Some businesses have closed or paused their digital marketing activities temporarily, citing the health concerns of their employees. If you are on that side, what you will have in the end is drastically decreased online traffic, sales, engagement, conversation, and pushed down search ranking. 

Digital marketing is not a quick-fix solution to gain momentum. It does not give you visibility overnight. If you are using digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing (SMM) – I believe you are already aware that your implementations take three to four months’ time to give results. 

So, if you choose to stop working on digital marketing, you would see a severe downfall after a quarter or so.  

The solution

This is a difficult time for us all. You as an employer will need to keep your workers motivated in order to ensure that the work does not gets delayed or stopped. Asking to work from home will be a great support for your employees, as well as for your digital marketing. 

But the most important question here is, what strategies should digital marketers follow?  

Consumer behavior has changed drastically. We all see a different consumer today. As mentioned above, markets are closed, necessities are out of stock or being sold at 30% to 50% increased rates, buyers and their families are staying at home – some of which have lost their jobs and have limited sources of earning.  

This behavioral shift has changed the market scenarios as well. We have a completely different market to serve. 

With that said, we will need a different approach to marketing. 

Develop a short-term strategy and see how the market conditions behave

 A pro tip for digital marketing is – keep it flexible. If there are provisions for alterations in your digital marketing strategy, you would be able to adapt to any situation. 

Which strategy suits your business and which doesn’t – it can only be measured after it is implemented. Your digital marketing strategy should be flexible enough to come out of any situation. 

Moving back to the ongoing corona situation, you will need to develop a different, short-run strategy to implement during the lockdown. You can start by: 

  • Understand the audience 
  • Assess whether your product is in demand 
  • Evaluate the amount of website traffic and its source 
  • Notice how the user behavior on your website 

Prepare a marketing strategy around these factors. If your product is in demand, you can draw in a huge amount of traffic through your local implementations.  

And if it doesn’t fall into that category, you can lure them in by offering discounts and lockdown special offers like Neil Patel did by making many features of his Ubersuggest free and iCustomLabel.com did by offering free shipping during the lockdown. 

More focus on pay-per-click (PPC)

Believe it or not, cost-per-click (CPC) is proving more yielding for marketers during the corona lockdown. Since the supply of goods is limitedthere are fewer ads on leading marketing channels including Google Ads, Twitter Ads, and Facebook Ads. 

The traffic and searches both are highbut the competition and with that, the cost of paid ads have taken a downward trend. It could be great opportunity for your brand to gain exposure and increase traffic and sales. 

You can combine SEO, SMO with PPC in your digital marketing strategies. Here is how to get started on your per-per-click: 

  • Identify your ad and campaign objectives 
  • Discover the best marketing channel 
  • Determine your funnel 
  • Observe the results and refine your implementation 

Organize webinars and webcast

Webinars and webcasts have emerged as a great marketing tool in recent. 

In fact, it is the most engaging content type today. Stats show that more than 80% of users prefer watching brand videos rather than reading their blogs or scanning through their social network text updates.  

You can take this opportunity to engage with your audience anget new sign-ups and sales, eventually. 

If your physical events such as product launch, marketing seminars were canceled or postponed, through which you had plans to gain traction, you could still go that way. 

Just prepare a content strategy, choose the right platform, and assemble the pieces of equipment, and you are ready for your webinar or webcasting. 

Quick tips to help you get started with your webinar and live streaming marketing:

  • Always do a live-run test beforehand 
  • Use the questions asked for your blog topic 
  • Promote the event across social networks in advance 
  • And most importantly, plan the content and context of your webinar well 

The last point will require you to dig the trends and find an expert or two to be present at your event. 

Bottom line

When traffic and sales are down, a large number of marketers forget their customers. What they have their focus on is – sales, sales, and sales. 

But, who gives you sales? Your customers, of course. During the Coronavirus lockdown, people aren’t actually buying much. 

If you forget them, you will lose them. And getting new customers after the lockdown is over is going to be an intricate affair. So, the best practice is to – never actually forget them. 

You can stay connected with them on social networks. Just for a friendly reminder: Social network is a marketing channel – but that does not mean you should always use it to market your brand. Rather, use it to empathize with your followers, listen to their stories and tell them yours, and respond to their comments and mentions. 

Many brands are using social networks to show how they are contributing to the wellness of the communities during the corona crisis. If you are also doing social work, social media is the right place to tell everyone about it. It will help reestablish you as a responsible brand – which without a doubt would be a one up for your marketing success.

Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is an Entrepreneur, internet marketer, and Co-founder of Lbswebsoft. He can be found on Twitter @bskathayat.

The post The impact of Coronavirus on digital marketing and effective solutions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Twitter survey reveals the subscription options it’s eyeing, including an ‘Undo Send’ button

August 1, 2020 No Comments

Earlier this month, Twitter told investors it’s considering a subscription model as a means of generating additional revenue to support its business. Now we know what sort of value-add features Twitter may be eyeing. In a new survey, the company asks users to evaluate paid features like “undo send” (an alternative to an edit button), as well as other ideas like custom colors, the ability to publish longer and more high-def videos, support for profile badges, auto responses, additional “social listening” analytics and the ability to run brand surveys about ads.

The survey asks users to select the options they felt were most or least important to them.

Details of the survey were first published to none other than Twitter itself by Twitter user @WFBrother. The findings were then amplified by eagle-eyed social media consultant, Matt Navarra, who had also seen the survey.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the questions had come from a survey the company was running to evaluate options for a membership model, as the survey describes.

The company declined to offer any further comment, but noted its Q2 shareholder letter had detailed its plans in this area:

“We are also in the early stages of exploring additional potential revenue product opportunities to compliment [sic] our advertising business,” the letter had said. “These may include subscriptions and other approaches, and although our exploration is very early and we do not expect any revenue attributable to these opportunities in 2020, you may see tests or hear us talk more about them as our work progresses,” it noted.

Specifically, the survey asked users about the following options:

  • Undo Send: A 30-second window for you to recall/withdraw a tweet before anyone can see it. This has been something Twitter has suggested in the past could be a viable alternative to an “Edit” button — something users have demanded for years. Instead of allowing unlimited edits to tweets, and the significant engineering investment that would entail — users could instead quickly fix a typo they spotted shortly after posting.
  • Custom Colors: In addition to “Night Mode,” you could change the fonts and theme color of Twitter on your phone and computer. Background color, links, mentions, hashtags and icons would appear in whatever color you choose.
  • Video Publishing: You could publish videos up to 5x longer than current default, with a much higher maximum resolution (8192×8192)
  • Badges: You get a badge(s) on your profile that links to businesses you own or work for (Example: A journalist can have a badge showing the magazines they write for.)
  • Auto responses: Able to write and set a menu of auto responses to use in replies. This would likely be more useful to brands that wanted to redirect customer inquiries to official channels.
  • Social listening: You can see conversation around your account on Twitter, including total volume, the people and businesses who are talking most often and what they are saying. This, again, would largely appeal to brands.
  • Brand Surveys: You could be able to survey people about the ads you run to better understand if your ad was memorable and if people are likely to buy the products or services featured. Twitter today already runs similar ads, so this feature would be relatively easy for it to implement.

The survey does not represent features Twitter will definitely roll out as part of any future membership model, of course. It’s only the first step to gathering consumer feedback about what people believe is worth paying for.

Not on the survey? A real “edit” button, of course. That one just may never happen!


Social – TechCrunch


Zuckerberg unconvincingly feigns ignorance of data-sucking VPN scandal

July 30, 2020 No Comments

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg appeared less than entirely truthful at today’s House Judiciary hearing, regarding last year’s major Onavo controversy, in which his company paid teenagers to use a VPN app that reported detailed data on their internet use. Though he may not have outright lied about it, his answers were evasive and misleading enough to warrant a rushed clarification shortly afterward.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) was asking Zuckerberg to confirm a series of events last year first reported by TechCrunch: A VPN app called Onavo, owned by Facebook, was kicked out of Apple’s App Store for collecting and reporting usage data while purporting to provide a protective service.

Soon afterward, Facebook quietly began paying people — 18% of whom were teenagers — to install the “Facebook Research” app, which did much the same thing as Onavo, under a different name. TechCrunch reported this and Apple issued a ban before the end of that day; Facebook claimed to have removed it voluntarily, but this was shown not to be true.

Rep. Johnson questioned Zuckerberg along these lines, and the latter repeatedly expressed his unsureness about and lack of familiarity with these issues:

Johnson: When it became public that Facebook was using Onavo to conduct digital surveillance, your company got kicked out of Apple’s App store, isn’t that true?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not sure I’d characterize it in that way.

Johnson: I mean, Onavo did get kicked out of the App Store, isn’t that true?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, we took the app out after Apple changed their policies on VPN apps.

Johnson: And it was because of the use of the surveillance tools.

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not sure the policy was worded that way or that it’s exactly the right characterization of it… [The policies are explained below.]

Johnson: Let me ask you this question. After Onavo was booted out of the App Store, you turned to other surveillance tools, such as Facebook Research App, correct?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, in general, yes, we do a broad variety—

Johnson: Isn’t it true, Mr. Zuckerberg, that Facebook paid teenagers to sell their privacy by installing Facebook Research App?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not familiar with that, but I think it’s a general practice that companies use to, uh, have different surveys and understand data from how people are using different products and what their preferences are.

Johnson: Facebook Research app got thrown out of the App Store too, isn’t that true?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I’m not familiar with that.

Image Credits: YouTube

Of course, the idea that Zuckerberg was not familiar with events that made headlines, took down Facebook’s internal apps for days and prompted an angry letter to him from a senator is absurd. (After all, Facebook responded.)

Perhaps intuiting that this particular claim of ignorance was a bridge too far (and perhaps in response to some frantic off-screen action in the CEO’s barnlike virtual testimony HQ), Zuckerberg took the opportunity to backpedal a few minutes later:

In response to Congressman Johnson’s question, before I said that I wasn’t familiar with the Facebook Research app when I wasn’t familiar with that name for it. I just want to be clear that I do recall we used an app for research and it’s since been discontinued.

Of course, although Zuckerberg may plausibly have been unsure about the name, it’s not to be believed that he was not familiar with the events of that time, as they were both highly publicized and very costly for Facebook. Naturally he would also have been refreshed on them during preparation for this testimony.

That Zuckerberg is unfamiliar with the exact wording of Apple’s rules is possible, even probable, but it was no secret that the rules were changed basically in response to reports of Facebook’s Onavo shenanigans. Here is what Apple said at the time:

We work hard to protect user privacy and data security throughout the Apple ecosystem. With the latest update to our guidelines, we made it explicitly clear that apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing and must make it clear what user data will be collected and how it will be used.

Later, when TechCrunch showed that Facebook had been using an enterprise deployment tool to essentially sideload spyware onto teenagers’ phones, Apple said this:

We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.

So Facebook was the reason, implicitly first, then later explicitly, for these App Store lockdowns. Rep. Johnson put the whole thing quite plainly at the end of his questions:

Johnson: You tried one thing and then you got caught, made some apologies, then you did it all over again. [long pause]… Isn’t that true?

Zuckerberg: Congressman, I respectfully disagree with that characterization.

You can watch the full hearing here:


Social – TechCrunch


How to use trending keywords from current events in content marketing

July 29, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Companies can rank for trending keywords by combining content marketing with current events.
  • There are some specific Dos and Don’ts for creating this content in a tasteful manner.
  • Dos include questioning your motives, thinking of clients first, keeping content value-driven, and giving company updates.
  • Don’ts include pretending nothing is going on, posting irrelevant content, abandoning your existing SEO strategy, or giving up.
  • VP of sales and marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, helps you achieve SEO value while maintaining sensitivity using trending keywords.

A good content marketing strategy should already be backed up by a list of target keywords or keyphrases your business is trying to rank for. But alongside these evergreen keywords, incorporating trending search terms into content marketing can boost SEO significantly. There’s already plenty of advice for finding trending keywords, but how do we harness their power without being distasteful?

Approaching serious current events in content marketing can be a tricky wire to walk. In 2020 alone, businesses and marketing teams everywhere have struggled to decide how to use keywords related to the COVID-19 crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement, Brexit, increasing climate change, and even a sighting of murder hornets. To avoid embarrassment and truly rank for important trending searches in an authentic way, follow these dos and don’ts.

Do: Question your motives

A national or global news story breaks, new keywords start trending immediately, and the first thing you think is…

If the answer was “Ooo I can use this”, then you may not have the best motives for adding that current event to your content marketing. Stopping to question your motives is the first step to harnessing the power of trending keywords without making a marketing blunder. It should and will take deep thought as to how to approach a trending topic with sensitivity.

Ranking for trending keywords shouldn’t be just about good SEO. Your keyword usage serves as a connection between what is important to both a brand and its consumers. When the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 occurred, bath tissue companies could have easily changed their marketing to fuel the need and push profits even more. But brands like Cottonelle took the exact opposite approach with their #ShareASquare social media campaign and partnership with United Way. Content marketing should always be motivated first and foremost by your business values, not your bottom line.

Don’t: Pretend nothing is going on

Some companies read the news and move right along with business as usual. That’s okay if you don’t have the right motives or anything significant to add value for your audience. However, the conversation surrounding authentic branding is growing, and more and more consumers are wanting to see companies respond to important events with transparency and empathy. 

In a 2019 Deloitte study, 55% of survey respondents reported believing that “businesses today have a greater responsibility to act on issues related to their purpose”. It’s okay to ignore which Kardashian is getting divorced when it comes to your marketing. But issues like climate change, world health, and racism cannot be ignored or you risk alienating consumers who equate silence with complicity. 

Do: Think of your clients first

Any good company already has their customers at the center of their content marketing strategy. Now more than ever, businesses need to refocus their marketing and make sure they are putting their customers’ needs first. This can be difficult in a climate where world events are creating new and different needs seemingly daily.

Consumers are shifting their needs and preferences to new types of content and new ways of engaging with companies. In particular, educational content is gaining popularity and driving “how to” searches. Think of what your clients need to know or hear in order to interact with your business, products, or services. The client always comes first.

Don’t: Provide irrelevant content

Anything you share concerning current events needs to be connected to your business in some way or another. Posting something completely irrelevant or out of the blue may throw off and leave a sour taste with customers and followers. If you can’t tie the content directly to your customer’s needs, then it’s likely not relevant enough to share.

One way to connect your business with seeming-distant trending topics is to think of secondary trending searches still related to your industry or product. COVID-19 has changed the way people live which has led to a wide variety of spiking trends such as gardening or home haircuts. There’s always an authentic way to connect a current event to your company. 

Do: Keep your content marketing value-driven

Even if you’re making a commentary or stating a position or opinion, you still need to add value to your content. Every message should have a takeaway that readers can apply to better themselves or their lives. Sometimes the value is in buying your service or product, but other times the value lies in the emotional connection imparted to the reader.

Think, what does value mean to your clients right now? Nike is a great example of a company providing new value to consumers. With gyms everywhere shutting down, Nike released their workout content for free and ramped up posting blogs to its apps and website. Their latest trend-focused content features celebrities challenging at-home exercisers to various workouts. Creating this value-driven content allows them to rank for many trending 2020 searches such as “at-home workout” as well as various trending athletes and celebrities.

Source: Google Trends

Don’t: Abandon your content marketing strategy

In turbulent times, your audience needs some nuggets of normalcy. A good content marketing strategy will provide the flexibility to adapt to sudden world changes or important events that need commenting on without abandoning the original plan. That being said, you’ll probably need to pivot on a few things, or at least give your audience a heads up about why they may still be seeing the content you already had planned.

Following travel restrictions due to Covid-19, Travel Zoo issued an email and blog statement explaining why they were going to continue on with their email series promoting travel, even when they knew their audience wouldn’t need their services right then. They add that they will be offering the same great content and deals they had planned, so email subscribers will “continue to find experiences that inspire and enlighten, whether in fantastic locations around the world or through something new you can try right in your home”.

Abandoning evergreen keywords for trending ones can lead to a big drop in your overall SEO. Remember, these searches are “trending” for a reason. That means, just as quickly as consumers are finding your recent content marketing, they are moving on to new trends and keywords.

Do: Give company updates

Once you decide to approach a trending topic in a blog, email, or any piece of content, it’s good to give clients company updates related to your first statement. This creates more opportunities for using related trending searches without keyword-stuffing your original content. This also shows consumers that you follow through on your promises which builds customer–brand rapport.

A great example of a constant commitment to this is Ben & Jerry’s Issues We Care About blog. These articles keep consumers interested in the company while ranking their content high in trending search results. 

Ben & Jerry's blog example

Source: benjerry.com

Don’t: Give up

Using trending keywords related to current events is key to helping consumers find your content. Just because it may take more consideration to create does not mean it’s worth skipping. “Going dark” can hurt exposure, engagement, and sales. And even businesses that weather the storm will face further recovery time if their company was out of mind due to lack of marketing.

Times are tough, there’s no doubt about it. But when it comes to keeping your business running in the face of global catastrophe, you cannot give up, especially on your marketing. Rather, content marketing and reaching clients and consumers at home requires your doubled commitment. You can make your content a place people turn to for wisdom and perspective—all while scoring those trending keyword SEO points.

Gregg Schwartz is the VP of sales and marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, a lead-generation firm based in Connecticut.

The post How to use trending keywords from current events in content marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


TikTok unveils $200 million fund for U.S. creators

July 25, 2020 No Comments

TikTok today announced a $ 200 million fund, aimed at helping top creators in the U.S. supplement their earnings, and potentially coax the next Charli D’Amelio out of the woodwork.

Called the TikTok Creator Fund, the money is aimed at helping “eligible” creators on the platform earn a livelihood, it said. Eligible for now is defined as 18 years or older, meeting a certain (unspecified) baseline for followers, and consistently posting original content that is in line with TikTok’s community guidelines. The platform will begin accepting applications from U.S.-based creators starting next month and distribute the capital over the coming year.

The promise of payouts is coming at a key moment for the app and its Chinese parent ByteDance . TikTok has been facing mounting criticism in the US, its biggest market by revenues, over how it handles user data and its ties to China, with calls from the Trump administration to ban the popular app outright.

And in response to that, TikTok has been making moves to present a more friendly face to the US. It has pledged to add 10,000 more staff in the US, and this week rumors began to circulate that investors in the US are considering buying a majority stake in the TikTok business back from ByteDance to establish control of the company out of China’s hands.

(It’s not clear if the latter is testing the waters of sentiment, or just an outright rumour, but as an aside to that, these days, ByteDance and TikTok try to go to great lengths to show they are not connected, if you go by how they handle their PR: Chinese spokespeople will not answer TikTok questions and refer journalists to the US team.)

Vanessa Pappas, GM of TikTok’s U.S. business, said in a blog post that ByteDance is starting the Creator Fund at $ 200 million and plans to increase it over time. She did not disclose how TikTok would decide what sum would be paid to an individual creator, and whether there would be any additional conditions to getting a payout. (We have asked about this and how many followers creators might need to have to be eligible, and will update as we learn more.)

TikTok already helps its creators sign brand partnerships and sponsorship deals, and it provides monetization for live-streams. The platform also has a $ 50 million Creative Learning Fund to introduce teachers to the platform, which has been used by some 1,000 teachers in the U.S. already. And a Creator Marketplace connects brands to creators to collaborate on paid campaigns.

“Through the TikTok Creator Fund, our creators will be able to realize additional earnings that reflect the time, care, and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas,” she said.

TikTok currently employs about 1,400 people in the U.S. and recently crossed the milestone of 2 billion installs globally. Last year, it said it had 26 million users in the U.S.

Several lawmakers including Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have expressed concerns in recent months that TikTok’s user data could end up with the Chinese government. China-headquartered ByteDance insists that it does not share any user’s data with the Chinese government, and that it stores its U.S.-based user data in the U.S. and Singapore. Earlier this week House lawmakers voted 336-71 to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices.

TikTok, which appointed Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer as its chief executive officer in May this year, also insists that it is a Cayman Islands incorporated firm.

For now, it seems that the programs that TikTok is launching are squarely aimed at fighting that fire in the US. It did not respond to a request for comment asking what it was doing to help creators in other markets supplement their earnings.

India, where TikTok has more than 200 million users and over 1 million creators, banned TikTok and 58 other apps developed by Chinese firms late last month over cybersecurity concerns. Its neighboring nation Pakistan issued a “final warning” to TikTok earlier this week over what it deemed “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content.”


Social – TechCrunch