March has been an intense month for several social media platforms as they search for ways to stay relevant, improve security and make money.
Facebook trying to reel users back in
Facebook is trialling the return of in-app messaging. It removed the feature in 2016 to encourage people to use Messenger.
The official line is that Facebook wants to give people more options to chat, but the platform also needs to get users to spend more time on Facebook – could this be the solution?
March also saw Meta verified launching in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Pinterest courts advertisers with Premiere Spotlight ads
Pinterest is testing Premiere Spotlight ads on the search page. These ads will sit at the top of the screen for 24 hours and include in-stream video promotions and the ability to click-through to an external site.
Platforms like Pinterest have the perfect opportunity to capitalise on brand uncertainty around Twitter advertising (and possibly, TikTok ads – more on that later!).
Twitter’s ongoing struggle to push Twitter Blue continues to alienate many users
Elon Musk continues to experiment with changes that disrupt people’s experience of Twitter.
Currently, his focus appears to be on making Twitter Blue as profitable as possible so that Twitter doesn’t have to rely on advertisers.
Twitter Blue users can now post tweets of up to 4,000 characters. Many users have expressed a lack of enthusiasm for this change, but Twitter is now considering increasing the limit to 10,000.
Twitter’s also thinking about removing the verified status of ‘legacy’ verified accounts – users will need to apply to Twitter Blue to remain verified:
The platform will continue to charge individuals $8pcm for Twitter Blue – for organisation/brand accounts the price goes up to $1,000pcm.
Automated accounts (bots) are also getting badges.
The ‘For You’ tab was changing to only include Twitter Blue subscribers – however, Elon Musk then said that he forgot to mention that accounts people follow would also still be visible there (verified or not) – and Twitter will be restricting voting in Polls to verified accounts.
The polling decision is a bit of a blow to fan and brand communities, where accounts often run polls as a way to engage followers, prompt discussions and build hype for releases.
Various Mastodon instances have reported another spike in new users since Twitter’s latest round of announcements as more users look for a platform where they can replicate their communities.
Is TikTok fighting for its survival?
It sounds strange to say it, given the immense popularity of the app, but TikTok’s long-term future is uncertain.
Governments are worried about the potential of the Chinese government to access TikTok users’ data – but they’re also worried about the Chinese government using the app to spread misinformation via content recommendations.
As TikTok rushes to overhaul its community guidelines, its CEO testified to Congress and didn’t manage to change any minds. Some analysts expect that the US is heading for a national TikTok ban.
More countries are now banning government officials from using the app. Canada banned TikTok from government devices in February, with Ontario banning regional government officials from using it from March.
The UK government has just announced a similar ban (and a wider app review), while France has gone a step further and banned all ‘recreational apps’ from government devices (this includes social apps and games), citing security concerns.
As The Guardian points out, France’s announcement has thrown the spotlight on other social apps’ security policies.
We could see governments consider banning more social media platforms on official’s devices and start to focus on the wider security and safety issues that social apps may present.
We’ll see more social media platforms and apps refining their security policies and guidelines as a result.