Each week the insights team at The Goat Agency pull together the latest news from the social space in a weekly social media news round-up. This week we cover the United States’ looming TikTok ban, Instagram’s key focus for 2023, and Microsoft’s bid to integrate ChatGPT within its Bing search engine.
US TikTok Ban Edges Closer
US lawmakers have long been pushing for the ban of TikTok, with a recent urgency reviving the movement to prohibit the app’s United States presence.
Now, the future of TikTok in the US is looking a lot less certain. An investigation has found the app’s parent company, ByteDance, had been using the platform to spy on numerous American journalists who were deemed too have accessed commercially sensitive information connected to the company.
A report from The Financial Times reads:
“Over the summer, four employees on the ByteDance internal audit team looked into the sharing of internal information to journalists. Two members of staff in the US and two in China gained access to the IP addresses and other personal data of FT journalist Cristina Criddle, to work out if she was in the proximity of any ByteDance employees, the company said.”
This is an obvious violation of user privacy, a counter intuitive to the requirements of press freedom. It also opposes the many public statements that TikTok has made in regards to how its Chinese staff access the user info of its United States account holders.
TikTok has reportedly argues against claims that US user info is being shared with China-based staff. In September, TikTok COO, Vanessa Pappas, testified that the company has several protocols in place to prevent and/or limit internal data access, while it continued to work on more advanced data protection methods:
“Our goal is to ensure non US-based employees, including China-based employees, will only have access to a narrow set of TikTok US user data, such as public videos and comments available to anyone on the TikTok platform, to ensure global interoperability.”
Pappas also attempted to diminish allegations that US user data had continuously been accessed by employees in China, in order to alleviate concerns that TikTok had been operating as a gathering tool for the Chinese Government. Which has been a motive for Republican senators, the FBI and the FCC to prohibit the output of TikTok in the US, dating back to Donald Trump’s administration.
There is no evidence to suggest that CCP officials have accessed TikTok’s US user data. But technically, under its existing format, TikTok could be used to gather information in a spy-operative sort of way. Which is why TikTok is in negotiation with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to establish the key provisions of a US data deal, which could be close to an agreement.
Microsoft to Challenge Google by Integrating ChatGPT With Bing
Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to launch a version of Bing that uses generative AI app, ChatGPT, to answer search queries. It is believed that Microsoft plan to have this feature available within the search engine before the end of March.
ChatGPT is a generative text-based AI tool, which provides generally well articulated, competent summaries of a specified topic that can be aligned with chosen keywords. By utilizing the tech behind ChatGPT, Bing could provide more humanlike answers to questions, as opposed to just links to various pieces of information. Both Google and Bing already float relevant information from links at the top of search engine results pages, but Google is better advanced when it comes to understanding information around people, places, organizations etc.
Microsoft’s use of ChatGPT could help Bing rival Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is a knowledge base that the search engine uses to provide instant answers that are updated regularly through web crawling and user feedback.
ChatGPT has seen a rising demand in recent months. The app enables its users to compose text-based submissions, fro poems to writing code. ChatGPT has impressed with its ability to generate answers that appear to contain human qualities across various topics. However, the system still has some major flaws, such as racial biases and a tendency to offer up incorrect information presented as factual data.
While Google’s dominance is at risk, the company has already confirmed that it will not be launching its own version because of “reputation risk”.
Instagram Chief Highlights Key Areas of Focus for 2023
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has provided some insight into the platform’s key areas of improvement or priority for 2023.
According to Mosseri, Instagram’s key focus points are:
1. Inspiring people to be creative
Instagram was the first of the major platforms to implement different filters and overlays for images, enabling customized image posts. Mosseri says that this is a fundamental on which Instagram was born.
Expect to see Instagram adding in more visual customization, with a focus on AR and 3D experiences in the app.
Instagram is Meta’s gateway into the next phase, its metaverse vision. Meta knows that it will need Instagram’s creators to help build its metaverse vision as well as its facilitation of visual concepts and creation.
The platform that can best host 3D creation stands in good stead to win out in the AR/VR shift. So, expect to see Instagram looking to add more tools along these lines.
2. Help people discover things they love
This might come as a shock to some, but to achieve this, Instagram would have to become more like TikTok in order for this to work.
Instagram would need to shift its user focus away from seeing the latest posts from people they follow and into TikTok-like experience where content is no longer centered around the social graph. Instagram has been clear in its efforts to become more like TikTok, but this hasn’t gone down too well in the past.
Either way, expect Instagram to continue down this path, with more content recommended to users through algorithms instead of through pages and people followed.
3. Spark connections between people
The last area on this list shines a light on the main IG feed for content discovery, with more people now sharing and talking about content in DMs and Stories.
Over time, users on Instagram have shifted from sharing posts publicly to private sharing, engaging around content within smaller groups.
Instagram is looking to facilitate this with new additions like Notes, which allows users to share a prompt in a Stories-like bubble above the direct messages tab.
Instagram hopes that this will trigger new conversations and engagement opportunities in the app, which could help the platform separate itself from other apps by building for engagement around content, rather than focusing solely on the content itself.
Elon Musk Points to Emoji Reactions to Tweets for More Response Options
“There definitely needs to be more reactions.” Was the response from Elon Musk to a tweet highlighting the benefit of having more visible engagements on the platform.
Twitter has tired this several times in the past. The most recent tweet reactions experiment was in March last year, when Twitter sought user feedback on the potential of more emoji responses in addition to replacing the like button with a heart icon.
Visual and emoji reactions are commonplace across social media. Twitter already has this to some degree, with the capacity for emoji reactions within DMs.
A new way to engage might be exactly what Twitter needs, and given the nature of the platform’s content, a heart emoji is not applicable to all situations so it makes sense to have the option for various visual reactions.
The Hans Zimmer x MrBeast Antarctic Trek Collaboration
Viewers of the 2022 Streamy Awards will have wondered why Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) traveled to Antarctica instead of collecting his third Creator of the Year award.
It turns out that Donaldson spent 50 hours on the barren landscape of Antarctica. The adventure would make for an epic video even without an accompanying soundtrack. However, MrBeast happened upon legendary composer and musician, Hans Zimmer in Antarctica. Zimmer, who has provided scores for movies like Interstellar and video game titles like Call of Duty, agreed that he would provide a fitting soundtrack to the creator’s video.
‘I Survived 50 Hours in Antarctica’ featured some of MrBeast’s regulars, Karl Jacobs and Sapnap, as well as guest star Dream. The video featured a two-day trek, with Donaldson exploring the snowscape, emphasized by Zimmer’s vintage strings and dynamic sounds.