Meta really hates the news

TikTok turns to TV ads for influence, Trump's social media goes public, Baltimore bridge tragedy conspiracies, and more...

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Happy Monday!

For those celebrating Easter, I hope you had a wonderful weekend. For chocolate lovers, I hope you were able to indulge as much as you wanted. With cocoa now more expensive than copper for the first time ever, it will only become a more expensive treat in the future. 😢 

P.S. Read to the end to discover the worst reactions to the Baltimore bridge collapse on social media, and all the best reporting and resources from last week!

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🎨 Creator economy

Meta kneecaps creators focusing on news and politics

What’s happening: People started noticing that Meta introduced a new filter restricting ‘political content’ from being discovered on both Instagram and Threads. This filter is set to default, restricting content “likely to mention governments, elections, or social topics that affect a group of people and/or society at large” in people’s feeds, stories or other places where new content is recommended. Users were not directly notified of this change being introduced. Creators have responded by sharing instructions and encouraging people to switch the option back to allow such content to be discovered on the platforms. However, some people are commenting that the app shuts down when they attempt to make the switch.

Why it’s happening: Meta did announce back in February that they were going to make this change. Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri also outlined on Threads what they’re thinking. In essence, Meta doesn’t see enough upside to their business in encouraging news and political discussion on their platforms. They want to connect people, but only so they can create an audience to serve ads to. Having to spend time and money on moderating content to ensure it’s factual and not adding to the tide of misinformation online takes them away from their main business goals. These feelings were exacerbated after receiving criticism around the time of the attack on the US Capitol in January 2021. They’ve also been watching Twitter’s descent into its current turgid state as its owner devolved into a right-wing edgelord.

Why it’s important: While Meta doesn’t want to encourage this type of content on their platforms, at least half of all Americans get their news at least some of the time from social media. The latest research from Australia shows 20% of people use social media as their main source of news. It’s frustrating that Meta is taking actions to restrict access to information that people are clearly searching for when using their platforms. They have deemed it too hard to provide a safe space for news and politics after previous issues such as Cambridge Analytica. With monumental elections coming in America and Europe this year, they’ve obviously decided to take this action now in an attempt to avoid any of their responsibilities. It also comes soon after they announced they will no longer pay news publishers for their content. This change could severely impact creators trying to build an audience on Meta’s platforms. It also makes it harder to find other like-minded creators to collaborate with.

Oh My God Omg GIF by The Bachelor

Meta working out the whole news moderation thing… Source: Giphy

👍️ Social media

TikTok spends big on TV ads to stop ‘ban’ bill

What’s happening: TikTok has launched a TV advertising campaign worth a reported $2.1 million. The ads will play in the battleground states of Nevada, Montana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. it will also be shown in other states including New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. The ads feature supposed users of the app explaining what TikTok means to them and what the impact would be if the bill recently passed in the House proceeded to law and caused it to be banned.

Why it’s happening: The US House of Representative passed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act with a vote of 352 to 65 on March 13. Although the bill doesn’t ban the app outright, it requires ByteDance to sell it within six months to a company not associated with a foreign adversary (i.e., China, Iran, Russia, or North Korea). The ads appear to be focusing especially on those states in which Democrat senators face tough races in this year’s election. ByteDance is evidently hoping the public pressure will negatively impact their votes and cause them to back away from passing the bill in the Senate. The Republicans appear to be more united in their support of the bill, and their presumptive presidential nominee tried to ban it outright previously (although Trump is now flip-flopping on the issue).

Why it’s important: Their previous campaigns focused on sending push notifications to their users, which resulted in a lot of people too young to vote contacting Congress. Perhaps as a result, they’ve now moved onto TV to target older demographics. The key messages in this campaign talk about freedom of speech and supporting small business, broad concepts not requiring you to be an actual user of TikTok to get behind. There are more Democrats up for re-election in the Senate this year than there are Republicans. Younger voters are also traditionally an important voting bloc they must win over for the Democrats to be successful. The nuances of the bill would be hard to communicate at any time, but particularly during an election year when actors like ByteDance are happy to mislead and misinform. For all these reasons and more, it seems increasingly likely that we won’t see any further action on this bill until we move past the election.

Donald Trump’s social media company goes public

What’s happening: Trump Media & Technology Group completed a merger with Digital World Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that had already gone public and been listed on the Nasdaq. The new stock debuted last Tuesday with the ticker ‘DJT’ and an opening price of $70.90 before rising to as high as $79.38. The price faded later though and has been at lower levels since then, closing at $61.96 on the Nasdaq before the markets closed for Easter.

Why it’s happening: This is essentially just a vehicle to provide a cash windfall to Trump and his financial backers. Trump’s shares in the company are worth around $3 billion. This is just on paper for now as his shares are locked up for six months before he can sell them. Trump Media’s main product is Twitter copy Truth Social, which Trump started after being booted off all the main social media platforms after that little matter of trying to destroy American democracy. Opportunistic traders bought shares on the first day and proceeded to sell them to make some quick money. Trump fans would have also piled in, excited to own a piece of Trump’s company, and they would be the ones propping up the stock for now alongside Trump and his backers waiting for their exit.

Why it’s important: I’m not a financial advisor and obviously you need to make your own decisions. But the price of the stock is absolutely ridiculous. From a financial perspective, Trump Media recorded $3.3 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2023 with a loss of $49 million. Its market value of around $5 billion is about 2,000 times its estimated annual revenue. This compares to Reddit at 10 times, which just recently went public and is already coming down in value, Meta at seven and Snap at six. This is essentially another meme stock rolling out in front of our eyes, but in this case it’s actively being managed by an ex-president con man and his dodgy social media company. The only question is when he’ll be cashing out and dragging the stock down with his exit. In the meantime, the deal also provided $300 million to Trump’s media company, which they need to keep operating and will find ways to use for his election campaign.

“This is a stock where the market price is divorced from fundamental value.”

University of Florida professor Jay Ritter. Source: USA Today
Pete Davidson Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

Here we go again… Source: Giphy

⚡️ Social media quick bites


Meta (Facebook / Instagram / Threads)



Twitter (X)



💫 AI quick bites

✍️ The best reporting last week

The slow death of Twitter is measured in disasters

The Baltimore bridge collapse is the latest example: A.W. Ohlheiser from Vox describes how Twitter’s usefulness as a breaking news site is long gone.

Why has LinkedIn become so weird?

It’s morphing into a full social network: Coco Khan writes on The Guardian about the oversharing now rampant on what had been a professional space.

CrowdTangle co-founder has questions for Meta

Its closure in August is terrible timing: Co-founder and former CEO Brandon Silverman reveals to Fast Company what he’d like to say to Meta.

Federation is the future of social media

According to the Bluesky CEO: Editor-in-chief Nilay Patel from the Verge interviews Jay Graber to unpack Bluesky’s progress and what’s coming next.

Instagram porn bots are getting lazy

Scammers are posting nonsensical words and emoji: Cheyenne McDonald from Engadget investigates why they’re getting so strange nowadays.

🧠 Resources to level up

The best free video editing software

Top 14 for 2024: Stacey McLachlan on the Hootsuite blog reveals the best (albeit limited) free options available to craft your social media videos.

How to write a killer hero section for your website

Plus a B2B landing page: Copywriter Michal Eisik reveals the steps required to writing a no-fluff hero section.

Influencer marketing insights

Over 1,200 Americans were surveyed: Influencer technology and services company IZEA reveals the current state of the industry.

How to survive new threats to your SEO strategy

Addressing AI and social search trends: Jodi Harris from the Content Marketing Institute talks to the experts to discover what’s required.

😲 Really?

Tragedy brings out the worst conspiracy theories

The Baltimore bridge collapse reveals social media’s toxic mix: Within hours of a cargo ship crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse and taking the lives of six road workers, Twitter (X) and Reddit were a confusing mix of official information, information from professional reporters, speculation from professionals and amateurs, and “actively bad conspiracy theories.” There is a great thread here showing how people were blaming everything and everyone including the pandemic lockdowns, foreign adversaries (China, Russia or Hamas), DEI, or the funding of Ukraine. The most offensive award goes to those blaming foreign workers or the “wide open border,” considering the immigrant background of the victims who were doing the dangerous work others don’t want to do. Others claimed it was a government operation to distract us from the case against P Diddy. Perhaps the most unhinged was the one below, which I honestly thought and I’m still hoping was a parody.

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