Social media platform changes: March 2018

In March, the Cambridge Analytica scandal led to many new features with vast repercussions for advertisers and marketers. Check out the full roundup below, as well as other platform updates such as an Instagram algorithm change, new AR tools for Snapchat, and a Facebook video “tip jar.”

Facebook changes in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal

In light of recent allegations that a consulting firm misused Facebook data in 2016, Facebook has introduced a number of changes, including:

  • No longer using data from third-party data aggregators in targeting ads. These aggregators had allowed Facebook to supplement its own data to enhance the performance of advertising. In a Twitter thread, ProPublica reporter Julia Angwin gave more information on the data these brokers offered, including the fact that 600 of the 29,000 categories Facebook offered to advertisers were from data brokers, and were specific and often financial (for example, “Income between $100k and $125k” or “Frequent shopper at Dollar Stores.”
  • Ending its Partner Categories program for data brokers to access Facebook user data for ad-targeting purposes. This program allowed advertisers to target people based on behavior that happened outside of Facebook. Facebook says that its own user data is strong enough for advertisers to continue to invest in advertising on the platform.
  • No longer providing anonymized data to third-party data firms
  • An audit of all apps with access to user data before the 2014 security updates.
  • New ways for users to control their personal information on Facebook.
  • Pausing its app review process, meaning new apps and chatbots on Facebook and Messenger will be halted until further notice.
  • No more audience reach estimates for advertisers using Custom Audience targeting.

In another development around Facebook and privacy, an Illinois court ruled that Facebook must get consent before collecting biometric information from Illinois residents. Facebook’s facial recognition feature (which is currently on by default in all other states) helps find photos a you as a user are in but haven’t been tagged, protect you from strangers using your image, and tell people with visual impairments who is in your photo or video.

Facebook fact-checking updates

There are many misinformation and fact checking changes on Facebook’s platform, including:

  • Letting fact-checking partners fact-check photos and videos in addition to news articles. False images, memes and videos have become rampant on Facebook, such as the recently doctored video showing the Parkland school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping up the constitution.
  • New efforts at finding and removing fake accounts. Facebook stated they block millions of fake accounts each day at the point of creation.
  • A new investigative tool that allows the company to look for potentially harmful types of election-related activity (such as Pages of foreign origin distributing inauthentic content)
  • A partnership with the AP to use reporters across the US to identify and debunk false stories related to the 2018 midterm elections.
  • A new transparency feature for all ads on Facebook. “View Ads” is available on any Facebook Page, where you can view all ads that Page is running; and an Ads Review process that requires an advertiser to verify and confirm their identity and location before running political ads. All political ads on Facebook and Instagram will include a disclosure, similar to the “paid for by” ads you see on TV.
  • Allowing more publishers to identify and label breaking news. That pool of Pages with access to this feature are now numbering over 50.

Instagram news feed change

Instagram updated its algorithm to bring newer content to the top of feeds. This is a bit of a reversal in course – two years ago they introduced an algorithm which prioritized posts based on interests over recency. The repercussions? Users that follow lots of brands/accounts will have less of a chance to see your content, so consider posting more often. Instagram advises posting up to 7x a day, although of course that should be dictated by the quality content you have and what your followers are reacting to.

In an off-platform update, a company called Fastory has created a free widget that allows you to add your Instagram Stories directly to your website on desktop.

Twitter Timestamps

Twitter users can now specify moments in live or replayed videos using a new “Timestamps” feature, which enables a scroll bar that allows users to pick the time they want viewers to begin watching.

More video storytelling features in LinkedIn

LinkedIn is offering businesses two new ways to use native video on the platform. Companies can now run native video ad campaigns and include video within their Company Pages.

Also, LinkedIn introduced Snapchat-like filters and three text styles for video content, which the company reports is shared 20 times more than other content on the platform.

Google AMP for everyone

Google announced a project to convince the group in charge of web standards to adopt technology inspired by its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework. In theory, it would mean that virtually any webpage could gain the same benefits as AMP: near-instantaneous loading, distribution on multiple platforms, and (yes) more prominent placement on Google properties.

Snapchat adds updates to its Lens Studio, Connected Apps and Ad Features 

Snapchat is testing “Connected Apps,” a feature that informs users of the apps linked to their accounts and allows them to manage access. At the moment, Snapchat allows links to only Bitmoji and Shazam.

Snapchat partners with an AR studio to introduce new augmented reality tools and Lenses in its Lens Studio, and introduces an interactive path template that lets creators make a Lens where users can control characters by touch.

Snapchat unveils three location tools for advertisers: Location Categories, Radius Targeting and Foot Traffic Insights. Location Categories targets users based on the type of place they visit, Radius Targeting pushes promotions to users near a particular location, and Foot Traffic Insights provides more accurate information on customers who have visited a physical location.

Other Facebook updates: Local news, tip jar and a simplified Ads Manager

Facebook expands its algorithmic priority to local news: Posts from “local news” publishers (determined by location and reading habits from a certain publisher’s domain) will now be prioritized in the News Feed in all countries, in all languages.

Facebook introduces a $4.99 subscription feature for Facebook Pages, that allows fans to “tip” a page or creator in exchange for exclusive content or a profile badge.

Facebook combines Ads Manager and Power Editor in a redesigned interface. The simplification reduces the number of tools an advertiser needs to learn before running an ad campaign on the platform.

YouTube expands live streaming support, contextual info on conspiracy videos

YouTube enables a feature for users to live stream directly from Chrome browsers and from Android devices. The livestream feature is available through the YouTube Live dashboard, though users will have to verify their identities and also verify that they are in “good standing” before using it.

YouTube announces that it will provide contextual information alongside videos that are about conspiracy theories, using info pulled from Wikipedia.


Need an update from the social media rumor mill? There’s a separate post outlining all of March’s beta tests, upcoming features, and more.


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Article by: Tory Starr

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