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Congress wants YouTube, TikTok and Snap to cough up internal research, too – The …

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Keep scrolling to read what the civil rights expert who audited Facebook thinks of Frances Haugen’s disclosures. But first:

Congress wants YouTube, TikTok and Snap to cough up internal research, too

Facebook couldn’t have all the fun. Lawmakers hauled in executives from TikTok and Snap for the first time ever on Tuesday — and YouTube, too — to testify on how their products affect kids.

Here are our top takeaways from the session: 

The companies tried to convince Congress they’re not Facebook

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Without naming the trillion-dollar elephant in the room, the tech executives testifying Tuesday sought to cast their practices and policies, and how they safeguard kids, as industry-leading, in doing so not-so-subtly distancing themselves from the controversies enveloping Facebook.

Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, noted that “Snapchat’s founders were part of the first generation to grow up with social media,” and were troubled by features such as likes and comments that feed into social comparison by users. That’s an issue central to the internal Facebook research leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen showing that some teens’ body image issues became worse after using Instagram, which uses those two features. 

“Snapchat is different. Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” said Stout, who served as a legislative aide to President Biden when he was a senator.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who convened the session, warned companies that being better than Facebook wouldn’t cut it. “That bar is in the gutter,” he quipped.

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Senators are counting on other platforms to release more research

At the hearing, Blumenthal secured commitments from the companies that they would disclose research into whether, as he put it, their platforms “can have a negative effect on children’s or teens’ mental health or well-being” or “promote addiction-like use.” 

YouTube’s Leslie Miller, vice president of government affairs and public policy, specified that the company would make “additional” research available. 

The exchange follows turmoil over disclosures that Facebook had troves of internal findings detailing how its products may cause harm to users including kids that weren’t publicly known.

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Blumenthal also appeared to secure a pledge from at least Snap to provide, as he put it, “external independent researchers with access to your algorithms, data sets and data privacy practices,” but YouTube’s Miller notably said “it would depend on the details.”

“We’re going to hold them to those commitments,” Blumenthal told reporters after the call, stressing the importance that the findings come from “independent” researchers.

Senators and executives got into the nitty-gritty of legislating — sort of 

Lawmakers repeatedly pressed the executives to commit to specific proposals, but the companies resisted at various times, instead offering support for vague legislative principles or simply for the intent behind certain proposals. That left some lawmakers fuming. 

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“This bill’s been out there for years, and you still don’t have a view on it,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said after Stout declined to endorse his bill to strengthen children’s privacy laws. 

Still, the executives did provide specific input on legislative issues at times. TikTok’s Michael Beckerman, for one, said the company would support the Markey bill if it included “a better way to verify [users’] age across the Internet.”

After repeated questioning, Markey also appeared to secure a commitment from YouTube’s Miller that, “yes,” the company would support Congress banning targeted ads to children. Snap’s Stout said the company is “very close” to backing it.

TikTok’s Beckerman didn’t hesitate, and said the bill should actually “go beyond that” and restrict platforms from showing certain types of ads to teenagers and young adults.

Asked whether they’d support banning “features that quantify popularity for kids,” such as “like” buttons, Snap said they’d support it. TikTok and YouTube did not.

Lawmakers are launching their own studies to test platforms

At yet another hearing, lawmakers revealed their staff had created dummy accounts on social media platforms to test how other users experience the sites. The trend suggests lawmakers are growing in their sophistication in how they vet platform’s practices.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said his aides created an account for a 15-year-old, and said they didn’t select any content preferences and only inputted a name, birth year and email.

“When they opened the ‘discover’ page on Snapchat with its default settings, they were immediately bombarded with content that I can most politely describe as wildly inappropriate for a child,” Lee said, adding that it included “an invite to play an online sexualized game” and “articles about porn stars.” 

Snap’s Stout said the section is designed to “resonate with an audience that is 13 and above,” though she was not immediately familiar with the content Lee referenced. But she said content featuring “online sexual video games” should be 18 and above and against its rules.

“This time is different.” Senators are vowing to advance tech bills, for once.

Blumenthal pledged after the hearing that the panel would have additional hearings and mark up legislation “in the weeks and months to come.”

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“We’re going to press forward with legislation to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” Blumenthal said, referencing the landmark 1998 federal kids’ privacy law.

Blumenthal said there’s bipartisan support to move ahead on a bevy of measures, including to address concerns about algorithms, “privacy protection, more disclosure, guaranteed access to independent experts on algorithms, and some policing of those algorithms.”

Earlier, at the hearing, Blumenthal sought to assure spectators that this time, Congress wasn’t just going to talk the talk on holding platforms accountable. “This time is different,” he said.

Whistleblower allegations have “revived” civil rights concerns, former Facebook auditor says

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Whistleblower allegations about the company have “alienated some key stakeholders and overshadowed many of the important and groundbreaking tangible outcomes yielded by its civil rights audit,” Laura W. Murphy, who led the audit, writes in a new report that provides a road map for conducting the reviews, I report.

The Facebook case is a cautionary tale for companies that get civil rights audits, according to Murphy. “Civil rights audits are not a panacea for companies that are facing larger moral reckonings about their role in society,” she writes in the report, which lays out a blueprint for companies that are looking at potentially getting the audits.

Murphy and her legal team sharply criticized the social network last July, accusing Facebook of prioritizing free speech above other values, such as safety, calling their actions a “tremendous setback” for the company. The long-awaited report was the culmination of years of scrutiny from civil rights leaders who have accused the giant of profiting off hate and allowing its platform to be abused by politicians.

In response, Facebook Vice President of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel Roy L. Austin, Jr. said in a statement Tuesday, “Facebook is one of very few companies to support an independent civil rights audit and to make the results of that audit public.”

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Austin, Jr., an Obama administration veteran, added, “There are no quick fixes to the issues and recommendations the auditors surfaced. Becoming a better company requires a deep analysis of how we can strengthen and advance civil rights at every level of our company, and we remain committed to doing that industry-leading work.”

Biden announces picks for FCC chair, third Democratic commissioner

President Biden will nominate acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to lead the Federal Communications Commission. He is also nominating net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn to be the third Democrat on the commission, Taylor Telford, Tony Romm and Cat Zakrzewski report.

“The FCC has been stymied by vacancies under President Biden’s tenure, as the White House contends with a raging public health crisis, supply chain collapse and a torrent of severe weather disasters,” my colleagues write. “Unless both candidates are approved by the Senate before the end of the year, Rosenworcel’s term will expire and Republicans will claim a majority in January.”

Biden will also nominate Alan Davidson as assistant secretary for communications and information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which advises the president on telecommunications policy. Davidson is a senior adviser at the Mozilla Foundation. He previously helped launch Google’s Washington public policy office.

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BuzzFeed News’s Katie Notopoulos found a Facebook open enrollment video that you have to see (and hear) to believe. The video was made private, but Highlight Reel’s Chris Person posted some essential clips:

The New York Times’s Kevin Roose and Notopoulos:

Nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen also weighed in:

The video also included a nod to Facebook’s metaverse plans. Time Magazine’s Charlotte Alter:

Motherboard’s Matthew Gault:

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  • Nadine Dorries, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, delivers a keynote address at a Brookings Institution event on technology governance today at 12:45 p.m.
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing on social media amplification of domestic extremism and other content on Thursday at 10:15 a.m.
  • Apple and Amazon hold investor calls on Thursday at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on online marketplaces on Nov. 2 at 10 a.m.
  • New America’s Wireless Future Project and Public Knowledge host an event on expanding spectrum access on Nov. 2 at noon.

Thats all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Make sure to tell others to subscribe to The Technology 202 here. Get in touch with tips, feedback or greetings on Twitter or email

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TIKTOK

TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options

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TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.

To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.

TikTok Creator Next

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.

Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.

As explained by TikTok:

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The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”

Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.

“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”

TikTok live gifts

That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.

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In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.

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TikTok Creator marketplace

Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.

That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.

As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.

The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.

The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.

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How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.

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But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.

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Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.

The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.

With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?

TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time

Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.

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TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.

But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos.  And businesses are already catching up.

The impact of Instagram Reels

With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.

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Youtube has joined the bandwagon

While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.

But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.

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However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.

It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV

With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.

The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.

This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.

Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.

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Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?

With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.

See also  Mimi Choi Is TikTok's Wildest Makeup Artist

While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.

Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.

Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.

Essentially, ask yourself two questions:

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  • First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
  • Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?

The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.

What this all means for an entrepreneur

Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.

And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.

Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.

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There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.

This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!

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How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here

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Let’s face it, TikTok is the moment.

And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!

Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.

Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.

How to create a TikTok account

First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.

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There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.

1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.

2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.

3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.

profile icon on TikTok

4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)

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sign up for TikTok using phone or email

5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).

enter birthday when signing up on TikTok

6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)

7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.

How to make a TikTok video

Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.

1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.

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2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.

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3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.

record button on the bottom of TikTok screen

4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.

tap checkmark after shooting footage

5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.

add sound on TikTok

6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.

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post video on TikTok with description

How to make a TikTok with multiple videos

Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).

1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video

2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.

3. Select all your media and tap Next.

4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)

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sync sound on TikTok

automatically sync clips

5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.

See also  Yale TikTok: A potential market for Gen-Z students

hit next and add suggested sounds

6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.

7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!

5 things to know before creating your first TikTok

TikTok style is less polished than other types of video

Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.

Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.

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@ariellehartford

That finger stole the show! 😂😂😂 #bachelorettetrip #gatlinburg #caughtinabadromamce

♬ original sound – Arielle Hartford

You don’t have to dance

Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).

There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).

You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.

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@sdavidrodriguez

♬ Grab Da Wall & Rock Da Boat – 504 Boyz & Weebie

Hashtags can help more people see your post

It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).

Find the best hashtags to grow your views and help get your content recognized by the algorithm. You worked so hard on it, might as well show it off to as many people as possible.

The right song can go a long way

Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.

@suzyjonesmusic

♬ original sound – Suzy Jones

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Your greatest asset is you

Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.

Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!

@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)

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