Weekly Search and Social Media Highlights

Here’s some of what happened in the search engine and social media industries from 29th February to 6th March 2020.

1. Facebook removes Trump campaign ads

Facebook said it will remove some re-election campaign ads by President Donald Trump which run counter to its policies to “prevent confusion around the official US census“. Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Facebook for allowing Trump to run misleading ads.

In December 2019, Facebook had promised to combat misinformation about the 2020 census including removal of posts which create confusion or discourage people from the counting process.


2. Snapchat-like stories on Twitter

Twitter announced testing of a new stories-like feature which will allow users to share content for 24 hours spotlight. Known as “Fleets”, this feature will initially be rolled out only for users in Brazil, according to Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour.

This feature is similar to Snapchat Stories introduced in 2013. As we highlighted in our previous episode, LinkedIn has also introduced something similar.


3. YouTube demonetising content related to coronavirus

In the past, YouTube demonetised videos discussing sensitive subjects. The company’s advertising guidelines say that sensitive topics pertaining to “loss of life, typically as a result of a pre-planned malicious attack” are normally unsuitable. They may remain hosted but can’t be cashed-out through the built-in ad service.

Tom Leund, Product Officer at YouTube, announced in a recent video that the coronavirus outbreak is being considered a sensitive topics and will ‘protect advertisers’.


4. Voice assistant for Spotify in the works

You can already control Spotify playback on Android using Google Assistant or Siri (iOS) but that hasn’t discouraged the company from developing its own voice assistant.

Software reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong said that Spotify is working on a feature to respond to requests such as ‘Hey Spotify’. The feature could be a test similar to Spotify’s Car Thing in-car voice-controlled music device.


5. US Senator wants TikTok banned for federal employees

Republican Senator Josh Hawley said he plans to introduce legislation to ban TikTok on all government devices. He alleged the app tracks searches, keystrokes and location for onward sharing with the Chinese government.

Several US agencies have already banned the app such as the Navy, TSA and DHS, to name a few.

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