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Inside Social

Inside Social (Jan 16th, 2020)

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1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had some harsh words for Facebook during her weekly press conference Thursday. She called it a "shameful" and "irresponsible" company driven only by profit, calling its employees "accomplices for misleading the American people with money from God-knows-where." Pelosi slammed Facebook for "not caring about children" and allegedly helping to compromise our democracy through the promotion of falsehoods in political ads — though she did not make a distinction between posted content, which is vetted by third-party fact-checkers, and paid ads. She also accused Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg of "schmoozing" the Trump administration in order to avoid antitrust regulation. And regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election, she said of the company, "They didn’t even check on the money from Russia in the last election and everyone thought they should." Pelosi's comments came just hours after the Senate began impeachment trial proceedings related to the Ukraine scandal. – KPIX/CBS

2. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg also has some critical words for Facebook and his "friend" Zuckerberg. In a new interview with the New York Times Editorial Board, Buttigieg said that he believes Zuckerberg currently holds too much power and that the company is a "natural monopoly." "No one should have that kind of power," Buttigieg said. He also came down on the side of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and other candidates in condemning Facebook for its political ad stance, referring to "a problem of their refusal to accept their responsibility for speech that they make money from." Buttigieg notably attended Harvard around the same time that Zuckerberg was there, in the early 2000s, and he has said that the two have multiple mutual friends. But he's added the caveat that this "doesn't mean we agree on a lot of things." – NEW YORK TIMES

3. Throwback Thursday: The first big Twitter Super Bowl was in February 2010. Twitter adoption was just barely hitting the mainstream in early 2010 when the Indianapolis Colts faced off against the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, which took place on February 7, 2010. There were about 30 million monthly active users on the platform at the time, compared to 330 million today, but it was the first time that Twitter executives decided to analyze how Americans were using the platform to react to, and discuss, the country's highest-rated live sporting event. In a blog post three days later, former analytics team member Kevin Weil plotted the number of tweets about each turn of the game, also graphing the number of tweets about brands and commercials. (Doritos was the big winner that year, in terms of Twitter reactions.) It was one of the first times we saw Twitter understanding how users were harnessing the "town square" nature of the platform to collectively share in a television event, and also beginning to see how Twitter could become a place where marketers could reach consumers directly, via hashtags.

4. News organizations like USA Today and NBC News are trying to court young news consumers via TikTok, and they're doing so in part with light-hearted videos that mesh with the majority of the platform's content. One trend among tweens and teens on TikTok in the last month was videos talking about World War III and a possible draft — following an escalation of tensions with Iran that included the drone strike on Major-General Soleimani. USA Today's audience editor for emerging platforms Alex Ptachick saw an opportunity to inject real news into the conversation, and the company posted this brief explainer video, narrated by what sounds like a female teenage voice, using photos and text printed on pieces of paper to quickly describe the state of tensions between the U.S. and Iran. USA Today has also participated in dance competitions on TikTok, and posted other lighter fare that has gotten more views than its Iran video. NowThis News launched its TikTok account in December, and it recently posted a quick visual illustration of the Australian bush fires set to music. – CNN BUSINESS

5. Pinterest released its latest diversity report, and it says it has exceeded its goals in hiring female engineers and engineers from underrepresented groups. The company has touted its diversity initiatives for the last five years, and in 2019 it says it met or exceeded all three of its primary hiring goals for the first time. Women now make up 27 percent of the engineering team, over the 25 percent stated goal. And underrepresented groups, including African Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latinx employees, make up 9 percent of the engineering team. – AD WEEEK

6. A new study finds that Instagram, contrary to other studies that say it promotes loneliness, can be helpful to introverts in making and enriching friendships. The study, by doctoral students at Washington State University, finds that the app helps minimize stress that introverts can feel about starting conversations with people, and also facilitates their portrayal of themselves in a positive light — something anxious and shy people can have difficulty doing in person. Like other social platforms, it has also helped connect people who are experiencing similar health problems or other traumas. – ONE ZERO

7. Twitter is apologizing following a BBC report that found that advertisers were able to target Islamophobes and neo-Nazis on the platform with its ad tools. Twitter's ad policies specifically ban the targeting of people based on "political affiliation or beliefs," "sex life," or "racial or ethnic origin," however an unspecified error in the system still allowed the BBC to buy ads based on keywords including "transphobic" and "white supremacist." The term "neo-Nazi" netted a potential audience of 67,000 to 81,000 in the UK, according to the tool. The case is similar to one last year involving Facebook's ad targeting tools. – ENGADGET

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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