The US Army Have Been Banned From Using TikTok & Spotify Pause Political Ads
It’s the final news roundup of the year people! We made it. Let’s wrap up by talking about Instagram’s new AI, Gutenberg 7.1, another way YouTube’s angering creators, updates to local listing on Google, and how Layouts will improve your Stories.
Hard luck to the US Army!
Snapchat Hope to Boost Numbers with ‘Bitmoji TV’
Snapchat will be launching a new feature called ‘Bitmoji TV’, which will make the custom Bitmoji avatars of you and your Snap friends the “stars of their own full-motion cartoon series”.
This seems like a logical evolution of Bitmoji Stories, which launched back in 2018, but featured mostly still frames. Now, custom Bitmoji characters will appear in cartoons that have been mapped out by Snapchat’s team, “undertaking various types of adventures and quests”.
Bitmoji has proven to be hugely popular, with it being the most downloaded app in the US, UK, France, Canada and Australia in 2017. Continuing to develop the feature makes a lot of sense, particularly if it ends up getting more users switching across to Snapchat Discover – where Bitmoji TV will live. Discover’s original shows were a high point for Snapchat in 2019, so generating more engagement and through traffic in the app can only be a good thing. Read more over at Social Media Today.
Google Ads Social Support Ending from January 1st
If you were a fan of taking to Facebook or Twitter to harass the helpers at Google Ads, you’re not going to be very happy at this news. Back in 2019, Google Ads announced that it would no longer be taking customer service requests through Facebook and Twitter, with updates now showing that this switch-over happened on the 1st January 2020.
Now, users who go to these platforms will see a pinned post directing them to make their query through an online support form instead. Google says that this is designed to ‘streamline’ the support process, as well as improve security. “Due to the growing global concern around spam and phishing, we are making an effort to resolve all Google product customer questions via 1:1 communication through direct email, phone or chat,” a Google spokesperson said.
While Google has said that this streamlining will result in faster responses, many people used social channels to get quick answers on issues – so there will no doubt be some people looking to complain if they find themselves waiting longer. Check out the story at Search Engine Land.
US Army Banned from TikTok
TikTok is under more scrutiny moving into 2020, with the news that the US military has now banned its personnel from using the app on government-issued devices – following the US Navy implementing a similar ban back in early December.
The fears come from TikTok’s connection to the Chinese government, through its parent company ByteDance. All Chinese-owned companies must “must furnish Chinese government requests for user data on demand” by law, and while TikTok has repeatedly said that it doesn’t store American users’ data in China, a lack of transparency is leading to increased concern.
While regular users may be less concerned about their individual data being shared, the implications on a larger scale are more concerning. With a large enough sample set, the data TikTok has access to could reveal more than people may realise – as we saw with many of Facebook’s latest data issues. Realistically, TikTok may be fine. There may be nothing to be concerned about. But data and privacy concerns loom more and more each year. Read more on the news at Social Media Today.
‘Assisted Trim’ added to YouTube for Copyright Claims
YouTube is making a move to give content creators more control, with a new update designed to help with copyright claim disputes. The update to the Studio will give creators on the platform “more tools and better information” to help them protect themselves against false copyright strikes.
Now, YouTube will help content creators track Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims on the studio dashboard, with access to more information from the takedown notice submitted by the claimant.
The new Assisted Trim feature will live within the details page, and can be used by content creators to remove the copyrighted content in the video. Once done, this also simultaneously releases the claim itself, resolving the issue. The endpoints of the trim are preset by YouTube, and cannot be changed in this release, which may lead to issues from the side of creators. However, this should be a positive step – helping creators to do more around these copyright related issues. Take a look at more on the update over at Mashable.
Facebook Account Now Needed for Messenger
Sneaky ol’ Facebook has been working behind the scenes to quietly remove the ability to sign up for Messenger without a Facebook account – a move the company has now confirmed.
Previously, new users to Messenger could choose to use their phone number instead of an account – but now, all users will need to have a Facebook account to join. “We found that the vast majority of people who use Messenger already log in through Facebook and we want to simplify the process. If you already use Messenger without a Facebook account, no need to do anything,” a spokesperson said via email to VentureBeat.
However, some Messenger users who don’t have Facebook accounts have reported that the transition hasn’t gone smoothly – with an error message appearing saying that their account has been restricted.
Many think this move to enforcing account creation indicates the first in a line of changes stemming from Facebook’s desire to unify its platforms – including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. Read more on the changes over at VentureBeat.
Spotify Pressing Pause on Political Ads
Following Twitter’s decision to stop all political advertising on its platform, the topic has been big news in the tech world. Now, Spotify has taken a stand of its own, with the streaming giant announcing that it will stop running political ads from early 2020.
The move, which will only affect the US market, as that’s the only country in which such ads are aired, will involve Spotify ‘pausing’ political advertisements across its free ad-supported tier, and during any original podcasts it makes.
This is the latest in a line of tech companies taking different approaches to addressing the potentially manipulative nature of political ads. Twitter went for a full ban, while Google opted for ad-targeting limitations for political advertising content. With Spotify’s announcement, Facebook is likely to feel under even more pressure to make a move of its own. Take a look at the full story at Engadget.
Who else is excited about all of the digital news to come in 2020? Who knows what we’ll be talking about in a whole year’s time…
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