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Why anyone should give a crap that Twitter’s likely upping the character limit to 10k

Twitter’s controversial hints about upgrading its signature character count from 140 to 10,000 have many enraged. Fear not, the 10,000 character limit is, ultimately, a good thing.

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The end is near

By this time, you’re probably aware of Twitter’s controversial hints about upgrading its signature character count from 140 to 10,000—a feature similar to the one already implemented in their messaging service (for those living under a rock, this article by SocialTimes offers a pretty comprehensive overview). Naturally, social media troglodytes near and far are coming out of the woodwork to defend or decry the proposed change.

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Oh, the humanity

25 years ago, few would have thought that one-sentence summaries and six-second videos would be the preferred marketing trend, but one need only look at platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Vine to ascertain low attention span pertinence in modern-day advertising. The average social media user doesn’t want to read more than approximately 250 words, and the prevalence of mobile users means information needs to be clean, quick, and readable on a screen.  With this in mind, it’s easy to see why Twitter’s proposed character limit revision is giving hardcore users heartburn.

Well, take a couple of tums and relax, you guys; the 10,000 character limit is, ultimately, a good thing.

“But Jack,” you protest, “Twitter’s appeal lies in its ability to deliver information in a concise and readable manner! Doesn’t upping the character limit to 10,000 negate Twitter’s entire purpose?” You bring up a good point, imaginary dissenter—but no, changing the character limit doesn’t void Twitter’s mission.

Your timeline won’t show over 140

For starters, the change will only affect the amount of information you CAN upload—you still won’t see more than 140 characters’ worth of text when scrolling through your timeline.

In other words, your browsing experience won’t change insofar as you won’t see any more text on your screen than you’re used to, and those pesky swarms of broken tweets in your feed will likely be condensed into one short paragraph. This also means that small businesses and content managers can still hook customers with the first 140 characters, with the option of providing more information.

Facilitating reads over clicks

That leads us to the simple matter of content consolidation. We’re much more likely to read a couple hundred words than click on a link, especially on mobile platforms. If companies can provide a quick and painless summary within the same platform as their soundbite, the next logical step is increased consumer growth. Convenience is chief among modern marketing aspects, and the 10,000 character limit will absolutely facilitate it.

Consumers are adaptive

“I don’t know, Jack,” you whine, “It seems like customers are going to be confused with a block of content on the page.” Again, that’s a fair point—as speed readers and skimmers, we seem to be startled at the sight of more than a few words—but you’re not giving enough credit to consumers OR businesses.

Consumers are all about convenience; for example, Facebook businesses often have a customer service function on their pages, whereas such functionality is impaired on Twitter, with most businesses defaulting to linking customers to a separate service page—which, in turn, fosters inconvenience and loss of business.

It’s also worth noting that neither consumers nor business content managers are stupid, and both are highly adaptive in their natural habitats.

This, too, is ephemeral

Of course, when all is said and done, the angst over this development is going to pass in the blink of an eye. Look at all the drastic changes in social media interfaces and functionality in the last 6 months; who’s still talking about Twitter’s layout renovation or Facebook’s timeline overhaul? Neither of these platforms is even close to becoming defunct as a result of such changes, and business is still booming on both of them.

Remember, convenience is King—and Twitter is pushing for ownership of the social media kingdom.

#Twitter10K

Social Media

Instagram announces 3 home feed options, including chronological order

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is allowing users to choose how their home feed appears so they can tailor their own experience… and chronological is back!

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Instagram home feed options

Break out the bottle of champagne, because they are bringing back the chronological order in Instagram!

About time, right? Well, that’s not all. Per Protocol, Instagram has announced that they are rolling out three feed options in the first half of 2022. What?! Yes, you read that right.

3 New Feed View Options

  1. Home: This feed view should feel familiar because it’s the algorithm you already use. No changes to this view.
  1. Favorites: This feed view option presents a nice and tidy way to view creators, friends, and family of your choosing.
  1. Following: Last, but not least, is my favorite re-boot, the chronological view of every account that you follow.

Per Protocol, recent legal allegations have been made that Instagram and Facebook have been prioritizing content viewed as harmful in the algorithm and specifically in Instagram. Instagram is widely believed to be harmful to teens. Per the American Psychological Association, “Studies have linked Instagram to depression, body image concerns, self-esteem issues, social anxiety, and other problems”.  They have been under scrutiny by lawmakers and in response are posing the chronological feed as a solution.

However, this won’t fix everything. Even if the algorithm isn’t prioritizing harmful posts, those posts will still exist and if that account is followed it can still be seen. The other issue with this solution is the knowledge that unless Instagram lets you choose your default feed view, they could still cause the algorithm view to be the automatic view. Facebook doesn’t allow you to make the chronological feed your default view. This means you would need to choose that view every time. This bit of friction means there will be times it is overlooked and some may not even know the functionality exists. Knowing this information about Facebook, prepares us for what’s to come with Instagram. After all, Facebook, or Meta, owns both.

While as an entrepreneur, the chronological view excites me, I know the reality of it being used is questionable. I would love to know others can see the products and services I offer instead of hoping that Instagram finds my content worthy to share in the algorithm.

As a human being with a moral conscience, I have to scream, “C’mon Instagram, you CAN do better!” We all deserve better than having a computer pick what’s shown to us. Hopefully, lawmakers will recognize this band-aid quick fix for what it truly is and continue with making real changes to benefit us all.

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Social Media

Facebook’s targeting options for advertising are changing this month

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Do you market your business on Facebook? You need to know that their targeting options for ads are changing and what to do about it.

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Laptop on lap open to Facebook page representing ad targeting.

Meta is transforming Facebook’s ad campaigns beginning January 19th. Facebook, which has been infamously battling criticism regarding election ads on their platform, is revising its limited targeting ad campaigns. Per this Facebook blog post, these changes eliminate the ability to target users based on interactions with content related to health (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”), race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religious practices (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”) and sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”).

These changes go into effect on January 19, 2022. Facebook will no longer allow new ads to use these targeting tools after that date. By March 17, 2022, any existing ads using those targeting tools will no longer be allowed.

The VP of Ads and Business Product Marketing at Facebook, Graham Mudd, expressed the belief that personalized ad experiences are the best, but followed up by stating:

“[W]e want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.”

To help soften the blow, Facebook is offering tips and examples for small businesses, non-profits, and advocacy groups to continue to reach their audiences that go beyond the broad targeting of gender and age.

These tips include creating different types of targeting such as Engagement Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, Website Custom Audiences, Location Targeting, and Customer Lists from a Custom Audience.

Here’s the lowdown on how it will happen.

Per the Search Engine Journal, changes can be made to budget amounts or campaign names without impacting the targeting until March 17th. However, if you go to change the ad set level that will then cause changes at the audience level.

If you need to keep that particular ad to reuse, it may be best to edit the detailed targeting settings before March 17th in order to ensure you can make changes to it in the future.

I believe it was Heraclitus that declared change is constant. Knowing this, we can conclude other social platforms may follow suit and possibly adjust their targeting in the future as well.

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Social Media

Hate speech seemingly spewing on your Facebook? You’re not wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook (now Meta) employees estimate its AI tools only clean up 3%-5% of hate speech on the platform. Surprise, Surprise *eye roll*

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Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device for hate speech.

As Facebook moves further toward Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, concerns about the efficiency with which the company addresses hate speech still remain, with employees recently estimating that only around 2% of offending materials are removed by Facebook’s AI screening tools.

According to Wall Street Journal, internal documents from Facebook show an alarming inability to detect hate speech, violent threats, depictions of graphic content, and other “sensitive” issues via their AI screening. This directly contradicts predictions made by the company in the past.

A “senior engineer” also admitted that, in addition to removing only around 2% of inappropriate material, the odds of that number reaching even a numerical majority is extremely unlikely: “Recent estimates suggest that unless there is a major change in strategy, it will be very difficult to improve this beyond 10-20% in the short-medium term.”

The reported efficacy of the AI in question would be laughable were the situation less dire. Reports ranging from AI confusing cockfights and car crashes to inaccurately identifying a car wash video as a first-person shooting are referenced in the internal documents, while far more sobering imagery–live-streamed shootings, viscerally graphic car wrecks, and open threats of violence against transgender children–went entirely unflagged.

Even the system in which the AI works is a source of doubt for employees. “When Facebook’s algorithms aren’t certain enough that content violates the rules to delete it, the platform shows that material to users less often—but the accounts that posted the material go unpunished,” reports Wall Street Journal.

AI has repeatedly been shown to struggle with bias as well. Large Language Models (LLMs)–machine-learning algorithms that inform things like search engine results and predictive text–have defaulted to racist or xenophobic rhetoric when subjected to search terms like “Muslim”, leading to ethical concerns about whether or not these tools are actually capable of resolving things like hate speech.

As a whole, Facebook employees’ doubts about the actual usefulness of AI in removing inappropriate material (and keeping underage users off of the platform) paint a grim portrait of the future of social media, especially as the Metaverse marches steadily forward in mainstream consumption.

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