4chan Generated Pizzagate Meme Gets Too Real
Speaking of fake news and its solely digital effects — the mass spread of false information, hysteria, online vigilantism and ameatuer cyber sleuthing — let’s talk about the real-life effects of it. As Forbes states, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed, and when Edgar M. Welch journeyed to the DC pizzeria Comet Ping Pong with a handgun and an assault rifle to “self-investigate” the validity of the 4chan conspiracy meme, Pizzagate, we got uncomfortably close to that prediction coming true. This incident was the most extreme action taken against the pizza joint out of a series of death threats via social media. And Comet Ping Pong isn’t the only joint to receive this kind of negative attention. The local East Side Pies got pulled into the mess (and responded brilliantly with an anti-bullying campaign.)
Why do we care?
Stories like this help us understand why exactly fake news is such a huge and dangerous problem. The internet (and social media even more so) is still very new technology to the public, and as it evolves, it’s absolutely necessary to figure out how to use it responsibly. This is new territory for everyone, so of course when the Zuckster came up with the newsfeed algorithm and publishers came up with tactics to get more people to click on their stuff (click-bait) it seemed like a brilliant idea. Now, we’re seeing the dark sides of that. If you’re looking for a good history of 4chan- and Reddit-fueled conspiracy theories and their effects on those that take them seriously, read this Forbes article. It’s a good one.
Even if the Zuckster and Sheryl Sandberg are adamant that fake news didn’t influence the election and does not create ideological echo chambers, Facebook is still making efforts to curb the misleading headlines on their site. To this end, they are polling their users, asking them “To what extent do you think this link’s title uses misleading language?” Facebook is also reportedly considering building into their algorithm systems to auto-detect fake news and lower its rank, or contracting with third parties to help them identify the pseudo-journalism.
Potentially more impactful than user accreditation is Facebook Collections, a feature on the horizon that is similar to Snapchat’s Discover. Allegedly, publications would have dedicated areas on the news feed that would likely be algorithm free to curate content as they saw fit. The theory is this would severely hinder the ability for fake news to be shared and go viral as it would not fit well into a curated environment.
Why do we care?
Pew Research found that 62% of Americans now get news updates from social media sources, and their dominance of news delivery is only growing. The impact of user polling, automated detection and Facebook Collections should all be positive for not only users, but also brands, who can now breathe easy knowing the problem is being addressed. This couldn’t have come at a better time, as already two global brands have been caught in serious online vitriol when top company executives were misquoted in fabricated articles that went viral and consumers called for boycotts of their products. While brands should always be prepared with a social strategy if the worst should happen, things are looking up.
Twitter Says YES!
If you think 2016 has been bad for you, think about how it’s been for Twitter. Twitter has been particularly susceptible to fierce social platform competition, slow user growth and the inability to monetize. As what some are seeing as a final “hail mary” to bring innovation to the platform, Twitter bought “Yes” and named the app’s CEO, Keith Coleman, the VP of product. A little background on Coleman: he was the project manager leading Google Plus, which is often depicted in the industry as a rubbish social platform; however he was also responsible for the rollout of Gmail and Inbox, some of the more widely used tools on the internet today. Another interesting little tidbit: Twitter is basically killing Yes, leaving all its users in the cold (anyone remember Vine?) so that the Yes team can focus on Twitter’s “new efforts” which are currently undisclosed.
Why do we care?
Things are going south for Twitter, and there are mixed feelings about this new move from both internal leadership and industry professionals. Some are thinking this was a very expensive way to dance around the real problem which lies in monetization, not product. Some believe Coleman to be a placeholder, a move made to borrow more time for Twitter’s increasingly nervous CEO. Others believe Coleman’s going to bounce just as soon as his contract is up. However this turns out, Twitter is going to have to find its place in the social media world before stakeholders jump ship and the platform burns slowly down to irrelevance.
YOUR WEEKLY PLATFORM UPDATES
“YEAR IN REVIEW” IS TRIGGERING BAD MEMORIES (AND SOCIAL SENTIMENT)
Thursday, we all woke up to our Facebook “Year in Review” which is basically a short compilation, made by Facebook and delivered to a user privately that celebrates the highlights of your year. The year’s “highlights” are likely determined by a post’s engagement and well, 2016 posts with high engagement are largely (based on users’ reactions) not that great. Facebook also releases a trending topics “Year in Review” which includes all major events with the most social buzz. Again, the list is pretty gloomy.
CUMBERSOME COMMENT THREADS GET THE MESSENGER TREATMENT
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to be embroiled in a long Facebook comment thread, you know that the system of notifications updating you as new comments roll in is far from convenient. Facebook is working on a fix: moving select users’ comment threads into their chat windows, which can more easily live in Messenger and alongside the News Feed. Long comment threads are conversations anyway, and this format works better for real-time back and forth. This change has only been seen by some users in Ireland, so it may be a long time (and will most definitely look very different) before it rolls out to the rest of the world.
HIP HIP HOOR-YEAY!
Gen Z shops 200% more on mobile than the previous Gen Y. Yet no one is being that innovative on how to sell to this generation. Until now. YEAY, a new app similar to Snapchat with its flowing video and hip vibe, is revolutionizing the way post-millennials shop. So far it’s doing things right, so much so that a few secret big companies have taken interest. According to Forbes, users can use static shots, text, emoji and video to sell and socialize. But that’s a common thing on platforms these days. Beyond this, YEAY is showing a unique understanding of authentic content and isn’t taking shortcuts to spark excellent UGC. Watch out for this one. If things go well for YEAY, the founder, Melanie Mohr, is predicting 5m unique visitors by the end of 2017.
BUMP UP THE PRIVACY
As we’ve learned from a handful of decades using the Internet, comments are a breeding ground for trolls. And with the ages of social media account holders skewing younger and younger, some feel platforms hold a responsibility to protect their users. With Instagram’s latest update, which allows users to remove comments and filter out certain followers, they are now leading the anti-bullying movement. To encourage positivity, Instagram will also add a feature where users can tap a heart icon to like others’ comments. This change is in addition to an update made a few weeks ago where Instagram gave users the power to filter out abusive words. This change is one more step in the slow, steady progress by social platforms (including Facebook and Twitter) to limit online abuse.
TOLD YOU SO
As predicted in recent trend reports, Instagram Stories continue to be a huge success for brands experimenting with the capability. A month after its release, brands are seeing a 15-25% swipe rate (equal to CTR on other platforms) on videos seen by users.
YOUR WEEKLY NO-GOOD-DIRTY-ROTTEN PLATFORM THIEF
We all know stealing is trending, but let’s dive in.
The culprit: Facebook. The victim: Snapchat. The story: On Facebook, you can now send message pics to your inner circle of friends that include camera effects and artwork and animated face masks and doodles and location stamps and wait—this sounds familiar.
WHO’S DOING COOL STUFF?
Using the most influential dogs of Instagram, a few dog-sized sets of (RED) pajamas and music from the most calamitous musical artist on social media, (RED) teamed up with Vice to parody Kanye West’s Famous video. Expect virality soon.
CANCER RESEARCH U.K.
In other nonprofit video news, after seeing the success from its 12-hour YouTube-based fundraiser in 2015, Cancer Research U.K. chats to Digiday about how it plans to use video in the coming year—and how they plan to improve ROI.
Having a hard time distinguishing Snapchat from Instagram stories? Can’t figure out why both are beneficial to the user journey? Talk to Birchbox, a subscription beauty box brand that has managed to turn its Snapchat followers into real buying customers.