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Are We Entering a New Phase for Social Media Regulation?

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The US Government made a range of significant announcements last week which could end up having major impacts on how social media platforms operate, including potential limitations and restrictions on what digital platforms can do in regards to buying other platforms, operating their ad businesses, utilizing user data and more.

On Friday, four separate bills were introduced to the House of Representatives which all take aim at various elements of big tech monopolies.

As reported by Reuters, those four bills could potentially see: 

  • A law against platforms giving preference to their own products on their platforms. For example, Google would no longer be able to promote its own products in search,  Apple wouldn’t be allowed to preference Apple Music over Spotify, etc.
  • A restriction on business mergers in the tech sector unless the acquirer can demonstrate that the acquired company was not in competition with any product or service the platform already offers. Facebook would not have been allowed to acquire WhatsApp or Instagram under this provision.
  • A ban on digital platforms owning subsidiaries that operate on their platform, if those subsidiaries compete with other businesses. This is aimed at reducing preferential behavior, and could potentially force the sell-off of certain elements. 
  • Improved user data portability, with platforms under legal obligation to allow users to transfer their data elsewhere if they choose, including to a competing business.

A separate bill would also give the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice a significant boost in funding, in order to help it enforce antitrust cases, like those currently underway against both Facebook and Google.

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Really, there are always antitrust cases in progress against the tech giants, and the funding increase would help to address these outstanding issues and fund further investigations.

If these bills are passed, or even if some of them make it through, that will put a new range of restrictions on how the tech giants can operate, while further investigations are also underway in Europe and other regions around potential restrictions on data sharing, due to concerns around possible misuse by foreign governments.

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This also comes as the US Government continues to examine the implications of data sharing with China, which includes Chinese-owned digital platforms, and could end up impacting TikTok at some stage, as well as WeChat. While TikTok was able to avoid a ban in the US last year, after the Trump administration sought to force it into US ownership, it may still face a potential shut down in America, dependent on simmering US-China tensions.

Altogether, these elements could force major shifts in the digital marketing landscape, and it’ll be important for anyone working in the sector to take note, and prepare for changes as a result. 

Though, really, these moves come as no big surprise.

Given the rise of social media, and the key role that it now plays in our everyday interactive process, it seems somewhat inevitable that, at some stage, new rules will be introduced to reign in the power of Facebook and Co., particularly as the platforms are increasingly being asked to weigh in on things like political censorship, and their networks are beings used to influence massive global shifts.

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That last note may seem like an exaggeration, but with foreign-based, government-funded groups seeking to influence voter response outside their own borders via social apps, and politicians increasingly leaning on Facebook and Twitter, in particular, as a direct line to their constituents, enabling them to, among other things, cast doubt on mainstream media coverage, it’s very clear that social media is indeed causing seismic shifts in the political landscape.

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If the rise of former US President Donald Trump showed us anything, it’s that social media is now the prime platform for connecting with audiences at scale, and in real-time – and with 71% of people now getting at least some of their news input from social media platforms, and rising, this is only going to become more significant.

That already has various government officials and lawmakers spooked, while the recent banning of Trump from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also raised further concerns about political censorship, and the fact that decisions on who can and cannot have a public platform are now being made by tech CEOs in Silicon Valley. That gives private enterprise direct control over an element of politics, which, whether you agree with the Trump ban or not, is a significant issue.

Which is why Facebook has been calling for external regulation, and has even formed its own third-party regulatory group, made up of a diverse group of experts, to address such concerns. Facebook’s hope is that by showing how its independent Oversight Board can help it make such decisions, that could provide a new way forward for broader regulation, and take such decisions out of its hands.

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Essentially, Facebook, and other platforms, would rather the rules not be set by their internal teams either – but within the current process, they have little choice. As such, these new bills could be a step forward, but at the same time, they would also limit Facebook’s opportunity to grow, and expand even further through acquisition.

Which, really, only means that we’ll see more Facebook clone functions, like Stories and Reels, and less attempts to buy opposing platforms, like WhatsApp and Instagram. 

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Would that be a better scenario? I mean, probably. Facebook’s clones have traditionally not fared as well as the originals, which leaves more room for competition in the sector. 

But either way, the implications here are significant, and could spark major change across the industry. There’s a long way to go yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on each element within this shift.   

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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