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With memes, videos, and quips, Bernie Sanders’ campaign uses Instagram to boost his appeal to …

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With memes, videos, and quips, Bernie Sanders' campaign uses <b>Instagram</b> to boost his appeal to ... thumbnail

The reply, posted in late October, racked up over 200,000 likes on Instagram.

Not bad for a septuagenarian.

Sanders, 78, the oldest candidate in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, is arguably the most skilled at using Instagram, which has become the preferred social media platform for young voters. He has 3.9 million followers on Instagram,
1.8 million more than the next-highest Democratic contender on the platform, Senator Elizabeth Warren. He posts far more frequently than any top-tier candidate, and has a more varied approach on Instagram than President Trump.

Sanders’ feed features a variety of sleek content, including flashy infographics and fully subtitled videos, that mirrors popular Instagram style. The campaign also isn’t afraid to lean into social media’s lighthearted language, showing Sanders and his staff are comfortable conversing in memes and self-aware quips.

“Bernie sees social media as an incredibly powerful tool to communicate directly with voters,” said Josh Miller-Lewis, digital communications director for the Sanders campaign. Though Sanders has a social media staff, he regularly writes his own posts, Miller-Lewis said.

With social media becoming an increasingly vital political tool, Democratic presidential candidates are using carefully crafted statements, skillfully edited photos, and curated debate snippets to try to capture the public’s fleeting attention. The competition for viral moments often takes place on Instagram, outside of President Trump’s ever-present shadow on Twitter.

Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last few years, particularly among people ages 18 to 29. Two-thirds of them say they use Instagram, dwarfing the 38 percent who say they use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center. Those young voters made up roughly 20 percent of the electorate in 2016 and are expected to again be a key voting bloc next year.

“It’s not enough to be ‘presidential,’ in 2019; candidates have to prove that they’re ‘cool’ enough, too — and nothing screams that a candidate is plugged into progress, innovation, and a forward-thinking America than technological sophistication, as demonstrated through their social media comfort level,” said Kerric Harvey, an associate professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

Each Democratic candidate has a distinct calling card on Instagram. Sanders brings the memes. Warren posts videos of her calls with lucky supporters. Former vice president Joe Biden shares pictures of himself with Barack Obama. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg posts photos of his dogs.

The youngest candidate in the race, Buttgieg, 37, is part of the generation that came of age with Facebook and Twitter. But when it comes to the volume of Instagram content, there’s no contest between him and Sanders. Since the beginning of September, Sanders’ campaign has posted more than six times more frequently than Buttigieg’s.

Unlike Sanders, Buttigieg’s Instagram feed eschews infographics, fund-raising requests, and policy rollouts, almost exclusively posting pictures of him on the campaign trail or with his dogs, Buddy and Truman. He uses Instagram to allow people to get a more personal glimpse into his life, said Chris Meager, Buttigieg’s campaign press secretary.

Instagram “offers a glimpse into who Pete is, and we have Facebook and we have Twitter where we can dig a little deeper into policy,” Meager said. “Instagram is very visual. And so it gives us an opportunity to use that to show behind-the-scenes content.”

Instagram use is evolving for political campaigns, with many campaigns increasingly focusing on producing videos for it. Miller-Lewis said video, and particularly live video, wasn’t “really a part of the equation in 2016.”

Now, videos are especially popular among young people. They flocked to Sanders’ campaign in the last presidential election cycle and he’s a favorite again among voters 18 to 29 years old, consistently the first or second choice among the age group in recent polling.

Sanders’ campaign is expanding its use of social media to reach new voters, Miller-Lewis said. In June, the campaign created a channel on Twitch, a live-streaming site popular with video-game players.

“We’re hoping that we reach new people who aren’t necessarily involved in the political process already, who aren’t going to tune into politics or read about politics on the Internet, but now see Bernie Sanders on Twitch and think, ‘Maybe I should take a look and see what he’s all about,’ ” Miller-Lewis said.

The only other campaigns on Twitch are those of Democrat Andrew Yang and President Trump. But Trump is more at home on Twitter, where he has a significant advantage over the Democratic field because of his 67 million followers. Sanders leads the Democrats with 10 million.

Trump, though, makes only limited use of Instagram.

A prominent Instagram tactic — used often by the Sanders and Biden campaigns — is cross-promoting tweets via screenshots, a move that would seemingly be in Trump’s wheelhouse given his frequent tweeting. But Trump rarely uses Instagram that way. Additionally, he doesn’t provide subtitles for many of his videos, eschewing a standard practice that allows users scrolling through content without headphones to understand what’s going on.

Trump’s lack of polish on Instagram may be designed to bolster his populist image, said Jesse Baldwin-Philippi, an associate professor in the Communications and Media Studies Department at Fordham University who studied campaign social media use leading up to the 2016 election. She noted a lack of stylistic cohesion on Trump’s Instagram account during that time, including using at least 25 different fonts in campaign graphics.

“It’s strange and different,” Baldwin-Phillipi said. “There’s something to be said for the aesthetics, of thinking about what amateurism signals and how that aligns with a populist message, this campaign value of being an outsider rather than part of a machine.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about its social media strategy.

Sanders’ early days on Instagram mirrored Trump’s amateur quality. The senator’s campaign posted photos of him on the campaign trail that were often grainy and out of focus, and there was little variation in the type of content.

To succeed in spreading their messages, candidates also need a social media campaign that can be amplified by its supporters, Harvey said. Sanders does this well, with a large number of his social media followers retweeting, liking, and sharing his content. From Oct. 28 to Nov. 27, the Sanders campaign said its Instagram posts had nearly 9.5 million combined likes and comments, far more total interactions than any other Democratic candidate on the platform.

“Sanders can depend on his support base to do that social media work for him in a way that previous presidential candidates had to pay people to do,” Harvey said.

Still, it’s unclear how those interactions translate to tangible campaign support like contributions, volunteers, and votes. But experts said a cohesive social media strategy is increasingly important — something Miller-Lewis said the Sanders campaign fully understands.

“You cannot defeat Trump if you can’t compete with him on social media,” Miller-Lewis said.

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Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: Government forcing companies to protect you online

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Although many of the details have still to be confirmed, it’s likely the new rules will apply to Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Instagram

We often talk about the risks you might find online and whether social media companies need to do more to make sure you don’t come across inappropriate content.

Well, now media regulator Ofcom is getting new powers, to make sure companies protect both adults and children from harmful content online.

The media regulator makes sure everyone in media, including the BBC, is keeping to the rules.

Harmful content refers to things like violence, terrorism, cyber-bullying and child abuse.

The new rules will likely apply to Facebook – who also own Instagram and WhatsApp – Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, and will include things like comments, forums and video-sharing.

Platforms will need to ensure that illegal content is removed quickly, and may also have to “minimise the risks” of it appearing at all.

These plans have been talked about for a while now.

The idea of new rules to tackle ‘online harms’ was originally set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in May 2018.

The government has now decided to give Ofcom these new powers following research called the ‘Online Harms consultation’, carried out in the UK in 2019.

Plans allowing Ofcom to take control of social media were first spoken of in August last year.

The government will officially announce these new powers for Ofcom on Wednesday 12 February.

But we won’t know right away exactly what new rules will be introduced, or what will happen to tech or social media companies who break the new rules.

Children’s charity the NSPCC has welcomed the news. It says trusting companies to keep children safe online has failed.

“Too many times social media companies have said: ‘We don’t like the idea of children being abused on our sites, we’ll do something, leave it to us,'” said chief executive Peter Wanless.

“Thirteen self-regulatory attempts to keep children safe online have failed.

To enjoy the CBBC Newsround website at its best you will need to have JavaScript turned on.

Back in Feb 2018 YouTube said they were “very sorry” after Newsround found several videos not suitable for children on the YouTube Kids app

The UK government’s Digital Secretary, Baroness Nicky Morgan said: “There are many platforms who ideally would not have wanted regulation, but I think that’s changing.”

“I think they understand now that actually regulation is coming.”

In many countries, social media platforms are allowed to regulate themselves, as long as they stick to local laws on illegal material.

But some, including Germany and Australia, have introduced strict rules to force social media platforms do more to protect users online.

In Australia, social media companies have to pay big fines and bosses can even be sent to prison if they break the rules.

For more information and tips about staying safe online, go to BBC Own It, and find out how to make the internet a better place for all of us.

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Instagram’s VP of Product Provides Insight into its Hidden Like Count Test

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Instagram’s hidden like counts test has been a source of much debate since the platform first announced the trial back in April last year.

Why would Instagram do this? What will the impacts be on measurement? Will it cause people to post more or less as a result?

Thus far, Instagram hasn’t provided many answers, but this week, we got a little more insight into the thinking behind the test, and its current impacts, via Vishal Shah, Instagram’s VP of Product, who took part in an interview on ‘The Social Media Geekout’ podcast, which is hosted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

The interview is well worth a listen for anyone looking to get a better understanding of Instagram’s internal thinking, on many aspects, but on the hidden like counts test specifically, Shah provides an overview, and some explanations to help clarify where they’re at. 

Shah first notes that the origin of the hidden like count test came from internal feedback from its various teams.

“This one came from the team that works on interactions and feed, so this team is incentivized to try to drive more likes [and] more comments, but in all of their user research, they heard so loud and clear that people felt like the public like count was a very high area of pressure for them when they produce content on Instagram […] the act of expression itself is what we cared about, not the validation, or perceived validation, that a public like count gets people.” 

Shah says that when Instagram was first launched, a public Like count made sense (“that was sort of a norm at the time”), but now, particularly when you consider the rise of the Stories format, public engagement metrics are no longer the things that drive behavior.

“If people were deleting the stuff that they posted to feed because they felt like they were competing with themselves [or] they were competing with public figures and celebrities and influencers that they felt they could never be on an even playing field, we thought this was one of the most effective ways to even that playing field and remove some of that pressure for performing.”

Shah says this is one of the biggest changes that they have ever sought to make, and the reason that it’s taking so long to test is because Instagram’s internal team needs more time to be able to measure the true impact of the update before moving ahead. With such a significant change, Shah says, some shifts in behavior will occur in the short-term, but to really understand the behavioral effects, you need a longer time frame to see whether it’s actually altering usage.

And while he doesn’t go into depth about the results they’ve seen thus far, Shah does provide this little indicator of what’s happening:

“We knew going into this that we would likely have to trade-off some amount of engagement to do this work, and we are very comfortable doing that if in the end it makes people more comfortable expressing themselves and sharing on Instagram.”

That would likely suggest that they are seeing a reduction in post engagement in regions where like counts have been removed.

That would align with a recent study by HypeAuditor, which found that total like counts have fallen for influencers operating within the regions where the test is active.

HypeAuditor hidden like counts report

That test is confined to influencers only, but based on Shah’s comments, this may well be indicative of the broader trends – that people are, in fact, seeing less engagement on their posts, overall, as a result of like counts being removed.

What Shah doesn’t note, however, is how Instagram is measuring the relative success, or not, of the test.

How will Instagram decide if it’s ultimately a success or a failure, and what metrics is it looking to improve as a result of the trial?

If there’s a reduction in the amount of people deleting their posts, is that an indicator of success?

One recent report suggested that the actual aim of Instagram’s hidden likes test is less about user wellbeing, as such, and more about getting users to post more often. CNBC reported last month that, according to three former Instagram employees, internal research at the company suggested that hiding like counts would “increase the number of posts people make to the service, by making them feel less self-conscious when their posts don’t get much engagement”.

That makes some sense, and as a side benefit, maybe it also reduces that performance pressure which Instagram is using as the main impetus for the change. Less pressure, more content – Instagram wins in the long term, and in that sense, it’s possible that increased post frequency per user is the key metric that Instagram is looking at in order to measure the ultimate success or failure of the trial.

Shah says they haven’t made a decision at this stage as to whether the test will be rolled out to all users, but he notes that they remain excited about the project, and that they will continue to push forward with the test.

In addition to this, Shah also discusses the development of Instagram’s ‘Threads’ messaging app, the expansion of messaging access to the desktop version, and the future of the app more broadly. Shah shares a lot of interesting notes – if you’re looking to get a better understanding of the platform and where it’s headed, you can (and should) check out the ‘Social Media Geekout’ podcast here.

So nothing concrete on the future of hidden like counts as yet, but it’s interesting to consider what these insights mean for the current impacts, as well as the motivations behind the actual implementation and success of the test.

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Instagram Gets New SloMo, Echo, and Duo Filters for Boomberang

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Facebook-owned Instagram on Saturday introduced three new options to share Boomerang Stories: SlowMo, Echo, and Duo, along with a new few feature to trim their length.

“Your Instagram camera gives you ways to express yourself and easily share what you’re doing, thinking or feeling with your friends. Boomerang is an iconic part of that, and one of the most beloved camera formats. Instagram is excited to expand on the creativity and give you new ways to use Boomerang to turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected,” the company said in a statement.

The new filters are available in the Boomerang composer located in the Instagram Stories camera.

With SlowMo, as the name suggests, Boomerang videos are slowed to half their original speed. Echo creates a double vision effect, enhancing Boomerang and Duo, both speeds up and slows down Boomerang, adding a texturized effect.

It’s also possible to trim and adjust the length of recorded Boomerangs with the update.

The new effects come as an over-the-air (OTA) update.

To access these new effects, take a Boomerang as usual, open the Story camera, swipe over to “Boomerang” on the carousel, then tap the shutter button or hold it down and let go. Next, tap the infinity symbol along the top of the display to access the new effects.

Instagram recently launched new “Layout” feature that will allow users to include multiple photos in a single story.

With this, users now create their Stories with up to six different photos, although this new feature was already on third-party apps to create similar images.

A user just need to do is open the Stories camera inside Instagram and look for “Layout” to start combining the photos. Once finished, just publish the Story just like any other.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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