What’s going on with social media?

We’re always talking about social media, regardless of whether you use it or not, it is always on the periphery. Recently, however, it has come to the very front of our attention. Between Facebook’s data issue, Snapchat’s controversial update and the emergence of a whole new channel, Vero, it seems that it is firmly in the limelight and is picking up pace. In the ever changing world of social media we’re seeing changes at a more intricate and detailed level.

So, what’s going on?

We’ll start with the most controversial one of all, shall we? The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal was a disaster that many people in the sector were waiting to happen. Facebook’s short sighted and lax approach with data has seen 87 million users have their data improperly shared with and used by a third party without their consent. Cambridge Analytica, a company focused on creating psychological profiles of voters to help its client to win elections, claims to purely be using the data for academic purposes, this is somewhat under question by the majority. Naturally, this has caused Facebook’s share value to plummet and has seen Mark Zukerberg become very publicly vocal about the direction of the company.

This all came at a very bad time for Facebook (if there ever is such a thing as a good time for a colossal data breach) as they have also recently addressed user complaints about their algorithms, breaking away from one that put focus on business accounts and refocusing on showing us content from our ‘Friends’. A strong move for Facebook to make but sadly it has been overshadowed by the breach. So, if you’re seeing more images of your Aunt Margaret’s beloved dog and less from Marks & Sparks, the algorithm is why.

From algorithms to updates

From one floundering channel to another; Snapchat has seen, what is arguably, its most challenging year to date. Since rising to the dizzying heights of nearly 200 million users at the end of 2017 Snapchat started falling short of the mark later in the year, stagnating on the stock market. To help address this issue Snapchat released an update which Snap Inc hoped would see the popularity of the app grow. Unfortunately it was gamble that didn’t pay off and resulted in a whopping $1.3 billion drop in their share value following a tweet from “the Queen of Snapchat”, Kylie Jenner, stating that she was “sooo over” the channel.

Since then there have been more dramas for the channel with Rhianna calling it out for allowing an ad trivialising domestic violence and Chrissy Teigen vocally jumping on the bandwagon leaving Snapchat town. It remains to be seen the long term effect that this will have on the channel; however, it seems that another update is being sent the users way. The response it will receive is hotly anticipated but ultimately the question remains; how many more high profile users will denounce the channel, and will the users follow?

From floundering to soaring

Right now, in the ever changing world social media where one foot wrong sends a channel into a freefall, Instagram seems to be a bit of a star student. Despite an algorithm change last year that took away chronological feeds and replaced them with feeds filled with content based on content it thinks the user wants to see, Instagram keeps going from strength to strength. Outstripping Twitter and Snapchat in terms of monthly users the introduction of (the very Snapchat like feature) ‘Stories’ on Instagram has done nothing but see the popularity of the channel grow. Even an issue with a racist gif on its newly released gif feature was just a flash in the pan of bad news with the feature being taken down almost instantaneously to fix the issue. Of course, it could be put down to the current focus being on other channels that this bit of negativity seems to have flown largely under the radar, but it could also be that Instagram is really targeting what social media audiences want. They have addressed the issue around the algorithm and are in part moving back towards a more chronological feed, a subtle yet effective change that is directly addressing what their audience is calling for. A shrewd move. What we shouldn’t forget at this point, however, is that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so any success Instagram has Facebook has too, and likewise any failings Facebook has should bring Instagram into equal question.

And a new social channel is born

Another slight blip in the world of Instagram came in the form a reasonably ‘new’ social channel: Vero. Dubbed as “the new Instagram” by many it promises social media users something that no other channel can currently promise: an algorithm-free newsfeed. Dubbed “True Social” it was created by Lebanese billionaire, Ayman Hariri, with the focus of becoming an ad free, connection focussed channel that would allow users to get see content they want from the people they want as opposed to what businesses pay for them to see. It is totally ad free and promises a chronological feed – something many social media users are crying out for. It has been around for a while but it recently picked up speed when a number of influential Instagram users announced that they were now using it.

The speed it picked up saw Vero face its first public issue: it crashed. It became so popular – seemingly overnight – that the app became unusable by many, resulting in a large flurry of disgruntled users. With overnight popularity comes the skeletons in the closets and very quickly Vero saw it’s ethics brought into question with some users calling out the all majority male task force (1 in 23 of the named team on their site is female and she features at the bottom of the page) and a quick Google of co-founder Ayman Hariri shows political ties and connections to a business that mistreated migrant workers. It seems that these skeletons may have had an effect on its audience because it seems that the Vero storm took place in a teacup.

In the ever evolving social media sphere this is a channel to watch and it will be very interesting to see if this fledgling channel will grow into something bigger.

And finally, Twitter

Interestingly, all is quiet on the Twitter front. Aside from #TwitterLockout which took place in February and was addressed instantly by Twitter referencing their terms of service as by way of explanation, Twitter hasn’t been in the news at all. Which given the disruption across the rest of the sector is a little surprising. It remains steadfast as a staple for instantaneous news for its users and remains reliable. They say no news is good news but in a market that is moving so quickly and constantly will no news see Twitter fade off? Unlikely. While ever the world looks for its daily fix of Cvofefe Twitter will carry on business as usual.

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