Google's cleanup causes angst

TikTok has a big week, the British Royal Family learn some harsh social media lessons, and more...

Sponsored by

Happy Monday!

Boeing’s safety issues have been blowing up on social media over recent weeks. Their reputation is in tatters, and people are encouraging everyone else to avoid flying on their aircraft. The recent death by apparent suicide of a Boeing safety whistleblower is adding a good dose of fuel to the raging fire across most platforms.

Hit reply to this email and let me know - are you actively avoiding Boeing because of what you’ve been seeing on your social feeds?

P.S. Read to the end to see the best memes from the royal Photoshop fail, and all the best reporting and resources from last week!

For anyone with us for the first time, welcome to Inbound News! Just 10-15 minutes every Monday to catch up on the previous week. I cover the stories that matter with smart analysis and resources to help make sense of all the noise. But always with a healthy dose of skepticism and self-awareness. 😉 

Level Up Your Social Media Strategy This April

Master the art of crafting a social strategy. This small group and conversational training from the American Marketing Association equips you with the knowledge to create highly effective content plans and audience engagement strategies. Define your purpose and measure your impact.

Google’s updates for March are causing havoc

What’s happening: Google announced their core and spam updates to be rolled out this month. There were also manual actions and changes to Core Web Vitals to contend with at the same time. Now the initial results of all these actions are filtering out from affected SEOs and website owners. Although the changes are ongoing, some clear patterns have emerged.

Why it’s happening: As detailed in the last issue of Inbound News, many complaints and some studies have pointed to a deterioration in the quality of search results generated by Google. The popularity and abuse of AI-generative tools for content creation has made the situation worse over the last 12 months, with Google looking at prioritizing their EEAT concept in response (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).

Why it’s important: Anyone reliant on search traffic needs to pay attention to how these updates are affecting websites so they can respond accordingly. Google are making good on their announcement of removing up to 40% of spam websites, with whole networks of sites being unindexed with manual actions overnight. These actions are impacting low-quality websites that may have avoided penalties from Google in the past. AI content containing errors or out-dated references should be considered untrustworthy and failing the EEAT concept, which is now explicitly stated in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. In addition, even websites with basic AI-generated content are being hit. There’s a good discussion on some of the factors that Google may be picking up on when targeting such websites in this thread. Using AI-generated content without addressing EEAT requirements is dooming a website to failure.

📖 Read the blog post from Search Engine Land: 5 things you need to know

Usa Network Reaction GIF by Suits

Oh, they’re doing it… finally… Source: Giphy

👍️ Social media

TikTok’s monumental news

What’s happening: 

  1. The House of Representatives voted 352 to 65 to pass the bill forcing parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok or be banned in the US. It now heads to the Senate where it appears there are some signs it may also be passed there, although not as quickly. It will then need to be signed by the president to go into law. But it’s likely there will be court cases and/or retaliation from China before we get to that point.

  2. These legislative moves are occurring at the same time that TikTok recorded revenues of $16 billion in 2023, according to sources who spoke to the Financial Times. They also reported that ByteDance looks poised to overtake Meta as the biggest social media company in terms of sales.

  3. Meanwhile, in news first spotted by an Indian blog, a file installable on Android devices revealed references and icons to a new app called ‘TikTok Photos’. A newer version of the file confirmed by TechCruch states “TikTok Photos is our all-new photo-sharing platform where we’ve made it easier to enjoy and discover photo posts.”

Why it’s happening:

  1. Constant security concerns have slowly but surely led to this bill being passed in the US. TikTok was banned for use on government-issued devices last year in the US and other countries. India also banned the app for the whole country in 2020 along with other Chinese-owned apps after a military clash between the two countries.

  2. Despite a lot of noise from users detesting the aggressive rollout of TikTok Shop, it has undoubtedly led to what ByteDance would see as a massive success.

  3. Although TikTok was the pioneer of short-form videos, it has recently branched out into other media formats. First came support for image-based posts in 2022 with ‘Photo Mode’ (revenge targeting Instagram), then support for text posts last year (mimicking Twitter (X) and Threads), and more recently continual increases in the length of video clips up to ten minutes and testing up to 30 minutes (going after YouTube). It appears to be taking a leaf out of Meta’s book by adding features from rival social media apps to provide more reasons for people to stay on the platform.

Why it’s important: Revenue like this makes it unlikely ByteDance will move away from TikTok Shop anytime soon. It may also encourage more suitors who like the look of those numbers (although it’s hard to determine exactly how much of ByteDance’s nearly $6 billion operating profit from the first quarter of 2023 is from TikTok, if any).

But that’s assuming it’s eventually put up for sale. It’s not clear that China would be prepared to watch one of its biggest successes in the West be sold off, especially when the US has forced their hand. The Chinese government protested while the TikTok CEO doubled down on claiming it will be definitely be banned if the bill is passed in another appeal to the app’s users. The bill doesn’t just cover TikTok - it covers any application or service owned by ByteDance. Developing another app like TikTok Photo would therefore run into the same issues if the bill becomes law (as would its existing creator app, CapCut).

We may be getting ahead of ourselves here as well. Although creating code signifies decent commitment to the idea, a new app may never be rolled out. Threads was launched to exploit the turmoil at Twitter (X) and its disgruntled users looking for a new platform. There’s no obvious need for another photo-sharing app like Instagram. Although many of its users would like to return to an app that focuses on a more raw aesthetic, all the trends point to less engagement on social media. Asking people to commit to yet another app would be a big ask without a clear USP for people to bother downloading and using it.

📖 Read the bill: H.R. 7521

angry go cartoons GIF by Cartoon Hangover

Just need to grab the pitchforks… Source: Giphy

⚡️ Social media quick bites

Meta (Facebook / Instagram / Threads)


Twitter (X)


  • A new UI for YouTube TV app is being rolled out in the coming weeks, allowing users to ‘lean in or lean back’ as required more easily.

  • New features announced: tagged product issues; subscribed content access, clipped insights, and issues filter; watch the details.


💫 AI quick bites

✍️ The best reporting last week

TikTok is creating a new accent

This might be the future of English: Sophia Smith Galer from the BBC describes how young women are leading the way in linguistic evolution.

The one reason Facebook still has younger users

Who doesn’t love a bargain: Melissa Rohman from the New York Times discovers how Facebook Marketplace attracts thrifty shoppers.

What’s the price of a childhood turned into content?

Children are mostly not entitled to any money they help earn: Fortesa Latifi from Cosmopolitan spoke to creators to understand the impact on them.

The collapse of TikTok’s growth rate explained

It’s a case of people growing up: Alistair Barr from Business Insider looks at the causes behind what might be a bigger threat to TikTok than it being banned.

Marking the web’s 35th birthday

An open letter from its founder: Tim Berners-Lee reflects on its history, its current state, and what’s needed to ensure its future.

🧠 Resources to level up

Improve your AI knowledge for free

Gain access to 250 courses: LinkedIn has unlocked AI courses across different skill levels and industries in seven languages until 5 April.

Crack the thumbnail code on YouTube

Learn from the best: Creator Insider interviews Chucky from MrBeast’s team and Tod, director of YouTube’s growth and discovery team, to learn their secrets.

How B2B marketers can exploit Instagram

10 ideas to get started: Tamilore Oladipo from the Buffer team outlines how you can use Instagram as part of a B2B company’s marketing strategy.

Make your content workflows more efficient with AI

Automate repetitive tasks and gain intelligent insights: Julia McCoy reveals on Search Engine Land the key AI tools and processes to make your life easier.

Discover all you need to know about ecommerce freelancers

2024 compensation guide: Talent marketplace The Starters used 50,000 data points to create a free guide providing a comprehensive overview of the market.

😲 Really?

Are we all being trolled by the British Royal Family?

Once is bad enough, but twice beggars belief: There has been a lot of conjecture about the health of Kate, the Princess of Wales, after being MIA since undergoing abdominal surgery. A photo of Kate with her children was released on Mother’s Day in the hope of dispelling this chatter (lol). Its distribution was then ‘killed’ by various news agencies once they realised that it had been manipulated. And rather poorly at that. Kate released a public apology in which she admitted the photo had been ‘edited’, apparently by Kate herself as an ‘amateur photographer’ (sure…). It appears the original photo may have been taken in November last year with Kate’s face pasted into it from a Vogue cover shoot also from last year. They unbelievably then released a second photo of Kate with Prince William in a car, which just seemed to be another terrible attempt at photo manipulation. It’s really hard not to start thinking maybe something has happened to Kate. I’m someone who skips over anything related to the British royals, but with memes like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, it’s impossible. Take note, brands and SMMs.

Nailed it…. Source: Niko Stratis on Twitter (X)

Thanks for reading! 😄 

Don’t be shy! Hit reply to this email if there’s something you want to share. I love to read what’s on my readers’ minds and respond to everyone.

Have a great week. I’ll be in your inbox again next Monday!