May recap: Social media platform changes, updates, new features and rumors

This month, developer conferences such as Facebook F8 and Google I/O, plus the start of GDPR compliance, led to a slew of new feature announcements, platform changes and bright promises for the future. May’s platform updates are broken down by category below: new features, platform integrations, privacy updates and rumors.

New features

  • YouTube revamps its paid products, into YouTube Music (a reimagining of its existing music service with personalized playlists, for $10 a month) and YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red, including the music service and ad-free, YouTube original shows for $12 a month).
  • Facebook launches a “Watch Party” option for Groups, allowing group members to watch a video and chat with others simultaneously. Another feature in Watch Party is “live commentating,” so that the leader of a group can narrate what is being watched.
  • Google redesigns Google News, with features such as a general briefing collection, aggregated articles for Newscasts, and Full Coverage deep dives into a single story.
  • Klout, a startup that measured influence on social media, is shutting down.
  • Instagram now allows users to mute accounts, which allows anyone to continue to follow an account without seeing their posts all the time. Muted accounts will not be notified they have been muted, and users can unmute an account at any time.
  • Facebook simplifies Live broadcasting through the Facebook Live API, with the introduction of persistent stream keys. If you are going live regularly, you only need to send one stream key to production teams — because this stream key is now permanent, it can be sent in advance of a shoot or stream without needing to pre-schedule the specific post.
  • Instagram launches video chat for 1-1 and small group conversations; the feature also allows users to minimize the video while continue to browse the app.
  • Instagram’s messaging feature (Instagram Direct) allows users to book reservations, schedule appointments and buy tickets directly on the app.
  • A WhatsApp feature allows users to watch Instagram and Facebook videos without leaving the app. The update includes picture-in-picture mode for videos, so the user can continue navigating the app while watching.
  • Facebook announces Facebook Dating, which matches users who opt-in with other users they don’t already know. A person can “Unlock” their profile to members of groups or attendees of events.
  • Instagram launches a refresh of the “Explore” tab, now organized by topic channels customized to a user’s interests.
  • Facebook launches a new version of its “AR Studio” that provides new capabilities and features for custom animations and augmented reality, and a partnership with Sketchfab, a library of downloadable models.
  • Facebook introduces a “Community Help” feature to help organizations offer services after a crisis.
  • WhatsApp launches Business Channels, allowing a business or company to create a distinct profile with options for away messages.
  • Facebook updates its Fundraisers functionality, allowing users to match donations to their nonprofit fundraisers, adding new categories for personal causes, and eliminating the platform fee on all fundraisers for personal causes.
  • Facebook introduces new video insights for Pages, including a video retention graph, two new metrics, and a “Journeys” feature that provides omnichannel data and reporting.
  • Pinterest now allows users to refine their search results by skin tone, making it easier for users to find relevant products and beauty tips.
  • Facebook launches the ability for users of Facebook Marketplace to communicate across languages with suggested translations from “M” (Facebook’s Siri-like assistant).
  • You might be using this one already: Instagram Stories’ emoji slider feature allows users to poll audiences using an emoji rating scale.
  • WhatsApp introduces new group-chat features with more controls for administrators; they also launch a group calling feature.
  • Snapchat launches sound-reactive Lenses, such as animal mask that users can overlay on their selfies, with ears that glow and pulse and eye movement based on what the mask hears.
  • Snapchat launches a new format for advertisers called Story Ads; these place Story comprised of 3-20 Snaps directly into the Discover feed.

Integrations

Data / Privacy Changes

  • Twitter identified a bug that stores passwords unmasked in an internal log. Although the company has fixed the bug, they have encouraged all users to change their passwords and turn on two-step verification.
  • Facebook has made it easier to set up two-factor verification.
  • At their developers conference F8, Facebook announced new initiatives to combat false news and misinformation on the platform, including financial backing and access to data for academics to study false news on the platform; and an education campaign that will be integrated with the News Feed, teaching users what false news is, how to identify it, and how it is spread.
  • Both Facebook and Twitter announce new features to add transparency around political campaign ads, aimed at preventing foreign and domestic manipulation in the coming midterm elections.
  • Facebook introduced a feature that allows users to opt out of their browsing history with the “clear history” optionThis feature, like “clear cookies” in your browser, deletes your activity history in Facebook and Facebook-authorized apps.
  • Instagram implements a new algorithm that applies machine learning to identify harassing or offensive language in comments. The new technology should block all comments that attack a person’s character, well-being, health or appearance.
  • Twitter introduces an algorithm to automatically demote comments that its software determines “likely to harm the conversation.”
  • Snapchat launches an online privacy center to make it easier for users to access privacy tools. The company is now also letting its app users opt in or out of audience segments that are used to serve them targeted ads.
  • LinkedIn has upgraded its Sales Navigator tool, gives users more control over the data that can be used to personalize ads, and allows users to export or delete their own data on the platform.
  • Twitter has updated its privacy policy to make it easier to manage personal information, and added a download button to get a plain text version.
  • WhatsApp raises its minimum age from 13 to 16 in the EU, and asks users to confirm their age when agreeing to the new TOS. They are also allowing users to download a report containing the data the platform holds on them.
  • Instagram has a new “Data Download” option in the platform’s privacy settings.

Rumors, Tests, Coming Soon

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Article by: Tory Starr

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