Underlying this month’s grab bag of news – rather more by chance than design – is the theme of cultural change. Is social media a force for good or bad?
We all know the big players have been doing a lot of soul searching over the past couple of years, and now Twitter and YouTube have taken visible steps to combat reflex sharing of misinformation and encourage people to think before they act. An admission of culpability in recent world events? You decide!
Meanwhile, like many other organisations, Mars has taken steps to correct casual racism in its brand history as it rebrands Uncle Ben’s.
And watch this space: LinkedIn is diversifying its proposition – doubtless as a response to a tough job market. Read on!
Social Media · 3 mins
LinkedIn redesign: stories and video chat coming soon(ish)
In its first major redesign in four years, LinkedIn is diversifying its appeal with its own version of Stories, the video narratives so popular on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. It’s also adding video chat integrations with Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams. The message? We’re useful for other things, not just careers. The pandemic and accompanying hiring slowdown are clearly behind the changes, while the channel has seen use of its messaging platform increase by 25% over the last year. Sorry though – you’ll have to wait for the changes to hit your account: it’s all happening in North America first.
Social Media · 2 mins
Twitter’s new retweet prompt is working
In summer, in an attempt to stem the spread of disinformation, Twitter introduced a new pop-up alert prompting users to read articles before retweeting them. It’s now shared insights into the impact of this, showing a 33% increase in users clicking articles before retweeting and a 40% rise in people opening articles after seeing the prompt. Furthermore, Twitter says more people are now not sharing articles as a result of having read them, suggesting the prompt helps people to carry out their own more informed quality control. MIT analysis has found such prompts reduce people’s propensity to share misinformation by around 13% overall.
Technology · 4 mins
Anyone for an Amazon drone in their home?
Amazon-owned smart doorbell and security firm Ring has unveiled a flying indoor camera that allows homeowners to check in on their home while they’re out and about. But with Ring cameras successfully hacked last year, some people have expressed concerns about privacy – including resistance to granting Amazon further insight into their lives. Ring says the technology is designed with privacy as first priority, with users able to turn on video end-to-end encryption, and the camera physically blocked when the device is at rest.
Social Media · 6 mins
Facebook: good or bad for society?
Facebook’s former director of monetization Tim Kendall has issued an incendiary statement to a US House Commerce subcommittee hearing on how social media contributes to the mainstreaming of radicalizing content. He suggests social media’s emphasis on maximising user engagement has “served to tear people apart with alarming speed” and could even push society to “the brink of civil war”. Facebook’s prioritisation of engagement over all other factors means controversial content garners more traction and distribution on the platform, resulting in the most divisive and loudest voices winning the battle for attention.
ALSO IN THE NEWS…
Mars has rebranded its “Uncle Ben” line to “Ben’s Original” and has removed its traditional “Uncle Ben” image. It aims to “create more equitable iconography” less rooted in a culture of casual racism. In the USA, YouTube has added voter awareness prompts to maximise voter understanding of candidates in the imminent presidential election, hoping to cut down on misinformation and increase participation.
ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Our homework this month was to read ReWork, and we’re glad we did. Having read a fair few business books we appreciate authors who can convey hard-earned wisdom concisely. You’d expect that from these writers: they’re the founders of renowned project management software Basecamp, an exercise in efficiency.
And ReWork delivers, with useful and actionable insights gained from the authors’ experience in a way that anyone can consume easily, and it does it without dumbing down.
Furthermore, a lot of business books were written for a world that might as well be ancient history. ReWork’s lessons are for right now, and its mantra is: easy is better.