Inside Social - June 26th, 2019

Inside Social (Jun 26th, 2019)

Trump threatens to sue Facebook / Reddit quarantines pro-Trump forum / Instagram Explore tab gets ads

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1. President Trump threatened to sue Facebook and Google in a new interview with Fox Business, and claimed that the companies are "trying to rig" the 2020 election. In saying "we should be suing Google and Facebook," Trump referred to recent EU antitrust probes into the companies, but he primarily talked about political bias in content. The president reiterated claims he has made for several years about Big Tech being biased against conservatives, and he repeated his claim that Twitter has somehow prevented his follower count from growing. "I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter, and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message," Trump said in the Wednesday interview. The president's follower count has grown by over 4 million followers since the beginning of this year alone, to 61.4 million, and it has grown over tenfold since January of 2016, when he had 5.5 million followers. (See also By The Numbers, below.) – BUSINESS INSIDER

2. It turns out that Facebook's roster of big-name corporate backers for its Libra cryptocurrency project is a bit for show, and they all signed non-binding agreements. According to sources who spoke to the New York Times, companies like Visa, Uber, and Paypal are all approaching the project "warily" and they're reserving the right to back out at any point. The wariness stems, of course, from Facebook's shaky reputation around the globe, and concerns about "how it treats corporate partners," the Times reports, not to mention the fuzzy legality of cryptocurrencies in general. Sources at seven of the 27 companies that Facebook said were joining the Libra Association and investing $10 million apiece say that no money has changed hands yet, and that they'll make final decisions about whether to join once more details are set in stone. – NEW YORK TIMES

3. By the Numbers: President Trump's Twitter following. President Trump has continued to rail against Twitter and an undocumented, programmatic bias he says the platform has against him and other conservative figures. Just today in an interview with Fox Business he reiterated the charge, suggesting that "they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter," as though there were some obstacle preventing users from seeing his broadly publicized tweets, or from hitting the follow button on his page. Trump's Twitter following has, in actual fact, been steadily growing since he became a candidate for president, and only noticeably dipped once, during Twitter's July 2018 purge of fake accounts, by about 200,000 followers — Barack Obama's account lost 400,000 in that same purge, and Trump recovered more than that number within 20 days. Below, a look at Trump's Twitter following since 2014.

Trump's Twitter Followers Over Time

June 12, 2014: 2,618,079 followers

June 14, 2015: 2,955,477 followers

July 20, 2015 (one month after announcing his candidacy for president): 3,283,166 followers

January 2, 2016: 5,510,371 followers

November 10, 2016 (two days after election): 14,095,094 followers

January 2, 2017: 18,387,782 followers

January 2, 2018: 45,591,089 followers

July 11, 2018 (pre-purge): 53,367,935 followers

July 14, 2018 (post-purge): 53,102,139 followers

July 30, 2018: 53,380,257 followers

January 3, 2019: 56,838,810 followers

June 26, 2019: 61,365,837 followers

Source: Trackalytics

4. Reddit has "quarantined" the infamous "r/The_Donald" subreddit due to rule-breaking behavior and "encouragement of violence towards police officers and public officials in Oregon." The self-described "never-ending rally dedicated to the 45th President" has been a source of conflict for Reddit dating back to the 2016 election cycle, but this is the first time the subreddit has been sanctioned in this way. A Reddit spokesperson said that "recent behaviors [on r/The_Donald] including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy." "Quarantining" on the platform means that posts by its participants won't be seen by the broader Reddit community, and it will conceal the forum behind a warning. As a bastion of free speech in all its forms, Reddit has consistently run into trouble in recent years as it's tried to balance community rules with an ethos against all censorship, and the recent uptick in incitements of violence may be tied to the political upheaval in the Oregon state house. – WASHINGTON POST

5. In yet another effort to monetize Instagram, Facebook is putting ads into Instagram's Explore feed. TechCrunch characterizes the move as another way to "squeeze" money out of the platform, and as Engadget notes, more than half of Instagram users look at the Explore tab at least once a month. (That's a little bit misleading, though, since Explore also doubles as the Search tab.) – ENGADGET

6. Banks in the 19-nation eurozone are stepping up efforts to join in a real-time instant payment system, in order to compete with Facebook's Libra and other potential cryptocurrencies. As Reuters reports, such a real-time system has already existed for two years, but it's primarily been used within nations and only about half the banks on the continent have joined in, but that is likely to change quickly. – REUTERS

7. YouTube has made changes that allow users to better customize their homepage and recommendations. The new features also offer a first-ever peek at how YouTube's algorithm functions, giving users some transparency about why they're being shown certain videos. – TECHCRUNCH

8. Possibly as a way to give creators a new revenue stream, Twitch is adding subscriber-only bonus content. The new beta Subscriber Streams are live broadcasts that are limited for a VIP, paying audience. – ENGADGET

9. Twitter is testing out a new layout for its desktop browser site. The redesign puts navigation on the left, the main feed in the center, and Trends and Who to Follow in a right-hand column. – TECHCRUNCH

10. Facebook and YouTube had yet another instance of an extremely graphic video being livestreamed on Sunday in the US, and which then had to be removed. A store clerk live-streamed a police officer bleeding to death after being shot in the neck when responding to a call near St. Louis. – BUSINESS INSIDER

Inside Social is written and curated by Jay Barmann. Jay has spent a decade covering the social media space and the tech world in general for, the San Francisco branch of Gothamist. As editor of Grub Street San Francisco, he also covered the food world around the Bay Area. As a freelance writer he has written for SF Weekly, 7x7, Curbed SF, Eater SF, Eventbrite, New York Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine, among others. Follow him on Instagram at @conflator or Twitter at @jaybarmann.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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