Inside Social - December 13th, 2019

Inside Social (Dec 13th, 2019)

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1. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly considering an injunction against Facebook to prevent it from uniting the backend architecture of Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Facebook's move to rebuild the messaging framework of its three core apps, first reported on in January, has been widely seen as an effort to make it harder for regulators to break the company up. According to a Wall Street Journal source, executives at Facebook have for months been worried about the FTC filing such an injunction over its “interoperability” rules — i.e. the ways in which its platforms interact. FTC commissioners are also reportedly concerned that such interoperability between the three apps would make it harder for other apps to compete in the messaging space. – WALL STREET JOURNAL

2. Creators of existing decentralized social media platforms think Twitter's Project Bluesky is, at best, a joke and at worst, a potential threat to other open-source networks. Developers who have already been working on decentralized platforms like Mastodon for the last several years view the initiative as just another Silicon Valley cliche, in which a big company "discovers" something that many people were already doing, and then ruins it. The Bluesky Twitter account followed up on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's announcement about the new project by suggesting it may pursue an existing open protocol rather than develop its own. But developers say everyone should be leery of Twitter attempting to own such a protocol, the way Google owns Android, because it will only benefit them and their advertising revenue in the long run, not consumers. – THE VERGE

3. Follow Friday: SplitsiderSplitsider is the Twitter handle for the comedy section of Vulture, which in itself is the entertainment section of New York Magazine's website. They tweet relevant news about comedians, the world of standup, comedic television, late-night TV, and movies. Following the account offers readers a good way to keep on top of all of the above — with Vulture being one of the best and most intelligent news sources on the entertainment world that the nation has. This week, the account is sharing the 50 best comedy sketches of the decade, a list ranking the best Adam Sandler movies, and a conversation with budding young queer comedian Liva Pierce about her love for Twitter. 

4. Instagram's insistence on only allowing people to broadcast a single link in their bios is a discreet attempt to kill the freedom of the web, says one ethical tech advocate. The link limitation of Instagram leads to a billion posts where people have to say "link in bio" to direct people to make an extra click to click away from Instagram. Anil Dash believes that everyone should be questioning this and revolting against it. This is because Dash argues this is another way that Instagram is trying to manipulate and control us, keeping us on the platform longer and quashing the innate democracy of the internet, where we're constantly telling each other to click elsewhere and find something new. – ANILDASH

5. In an effort to silence protests, the Indian government shut off the internet in two northeastern states, Assam and Meghalaya. Protesters are angry about a new law providing a path to Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from several nearby countries, because tensions are high in these states over immigration from those countries. This is the latest example of a disturbing global trend of governments shutting down social media and internet communication in order to control a populace. – TECHCRUNCH

6. A new study suggests that Facebook's political ad infrastructure makes it harder and more expensive for campaigns to reach voters who don't already agree with them. The study by researchers at Northeastern University, the University of Southern California, and the progressive nonprofit Upturn found that Facebook's "relevance" algorithm has a way of always bubbling up ads for candidates and issues that users already agree with, leading to increased polarization by design. – WIRED

7. Beauty trends and Instagram are in an unhealthy feedback loop that has created a cyborg-like beauty standard very few can ever attain. Makeup artist Colby Smith calls it "Instagram Face" and says that too many people are trying to achieve a "face that looks like it’s made out of clay" in photographs. He also suggests that 95 percent of the most-followed people on Instagram use FaceTune to remove imperfections anyway. – THE NEW YORKER

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.


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