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In recent times we have seen Facebook make substantial efforts to expand their portfolio beyond basic social networking, delving into the fast-rising medium of video in a bid to rival the streaming giants like YouTube. This week however their announcement focused not on video but instead on music; which comes as no real surprise given how the two often go hand-in-hand.

In an announcement posted to the Facebook Newsroom on June 5th, Tamara Hrivnak, Head of Music Business Development & Partnerships, and Fred Beteille, Head of Product, Music & Rights, told readers, “We’ve been partnering with music companies around the world to bring music to more experiences on Facebook. Today we’re announcing new ways for people to express themselves with music in their posts, including a new feature, Lip Sync Live.”

There was little detail given as to what form many of these new features may take, other than testing new ways of adding music to videos and other posts. In fact the only specifics given relate to the Lip Sync Live feature, which does exactly what you would expect from the name.

“We’re starting to roll out Lip Sync Live, which lets you lip sync to songs from forever favorites like “Welcome to The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses to new hits like “Havana” by Camila Cabello,” read the announcement, “With Lip Sync Live, you can express yourself with music from a variety of genres in real time. So whether you prefer songs like “Happier” by Ed Sheeran or “God’s Plan” by Drake, Lip Sync Live lets you bring friends and family into spontaneous musical moments.

“To try it out, choose the Lip Sync Live option when starting your Live video. After selecting a song from the song list, you can also add a description and customize your video with masks or a background.”

When broadcasting with Lip Sync Live, friends will see the artist and song highlighted on the video and can tap to easily follow the artist on Facebook.

Ever since Instagram first switched from a chronological feed to one dictated by an algorithm, the exact determining factors used to decide what you would and wouldn’t see have remained a mystery; until now that is.

Before the switch Instagram users missed on average 70% of all posts and 50% of their friends’ posts, according to a report from TechCrunch. So, despite some early backlash the idea seemed a logical one; as a result of the change Instagram now say that relevancy sorting has led to users seeing 90% of their friends’ posts - a substantial increase on times before the shift to an algorithm-based feed - and spending more time on the app in general. All this while, they stayed silent on the underlying mechanics.

Now however the Facebook-owned social media behemoth has seemingly abandoned their attempts at secrecy and instead opted to share the three most relevant factors when determining what appears in your feed. AI systems capable of machine learning then analyse your past interactions on the platform to further personalise your uniquely-tailored feed.

The aforementioned most relevant factors, as reported by TechCrunch, are:

Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher rankings given for what seemingly matters to you. This is determined by past behaviour on similar content and potentially AI analysis of the actual content of the post.

Timeliness: How recently the post was shared, with prioritisation for timely posts over weeks-old ones.

Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

The algorithm also incorporates other factors including Frequency, Following, and Usage, albeit to a lesser extent.

Facebook’s Trending feature has somewhat ironically never been all that popular itself, and has been the cause and centre of countless problems and controversies over the years since its introduction. With that in mind it came as no great surprise when the company announced this weekend that they will be scrapping the Trending feature altogether in favour of more engaging alternatives.

In a blog post released on June 1st Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook, said the change was being made in response to low engagement (the feature accounted for less than 1.5% of clicks to news publishers on average) and a documented shift in how people consume news on that platform, which he says is “changing to be primarily on mobile and increasingly through news video”.

Facebook are also hoping that shifting away from the Trending feature and introducing more ways to explore news from “trustworthy and quality sources”, they can subdue the proliferation of ‘fake news and misinformation on the platform, while avoiding yet more accusations of bias.

In place of the discarded feature, Facebook are testing new alternatives including:
  • Breaking News Label: A test we’re running with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia lets publishers put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts in News Feed. We’re also testing breaking news notifications.
  • Today In: We’re testing a dedicated section on Facebook called Today In that connects people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organizations.
  • News Video in Watch: We will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch.

Owing to the advent of technology, businesses irrespective of their scale of operations are investing everything they have to keep up with the dynamics of today’s digital market. Companies which already have an online presence are beefing up their marketing strategies, and rest are rapidly moderating their business models to ensure compatibility with the promptly evolving digital world. Let’s delve into some of the statistics that will help in understanding the importance of digital marketing.

  • 72% marketers considered traditional marketing methods inadequate and moved towards digital marketing strategies to increase their revenue.
  • Approximately 49% of companies have invested in a digital marketing plan, and the numbers will substantially rise in the coming years.
  • In the coming years, over 80% of companies will increase their digital marketing budget which is speculated to go beyond the overall budget of the IT sector.
These statistics clearly indicate that digital marketing has become the need of the hour, if not the need of yesterday. To further shed light on the subject, let’s look into the advantages of digital marketing.

Infographic provided by Contentualize

Facebook’s dominance in the social media market may be slowly dwindling as teen users in the US begin to show a distinct preference for the services offered by the likes of YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook’s own Instagram.

This is according to the latest research from the Pew Research Center, published on May 31st, which clearly shows that unlike in recent years, Facebook is no longer the dominant online platform among teens. To put some numbers behind that claim, only 51% of US teens aged 13-17 say they use Facebook; down 20% from 2015. Facebook now holds a lower status among US teens than YouTube, with 85% making use of the platform, as well as Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%).

743 teens were interviewed as part of the survey, along with 1,058 parents of children aged 13-17.

This apparent mass-departure among teens could potentially be worrying for Facebook, as if this trend continues their eventual loss of market share is surely inevitable; it’s simply a matter of time.
Facebook as a larger company are arguably too big to fail at this point, especially when you factor in their ownership of Instagram which continues to gain popularity among this demographic, but Facebook as a platform may struggle if they fail to attract these users back. With the same survey revealing that 95% of teens now own a smartphone, that’s a substantial market to miss out on.

Only a week removed from the implementation of new regulations under GDPR, which came into effect throughout Europe as of May 25th, a succession of prominent social media and tech companies seem to be falling foul of the newly updated laws. This is according to the French privacy advocacy group known as La Quadrature du Net, who have filed as many as seven formal complaints against Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft/LinkedIn, collectively referred to as “GAFAM”, all relating to alleged violations of the terms set out by GDPR.

Complaints were fielded from the public at large and by the time of filing numbered around the 12,000 mark. These complaints, later formalised by La Quadrature, seem to stem from the issue of “forced consent”, which basically amounts to companies telling users that if they wish to use the service(s) on offer, they must agree to the collection and use of their data.

La Quadrature are not the only group to make complaints against the aforementioned companies; in fact a similar organisation known as filed their own official complaints on the very first day that GDPR came into force. The issue of forced consent was also cited in this earlier case, with asserting in no uncertain terms that “access to services can no longer depend on whether a user gives consent to the use of data.”

La Quadrature have made their complaints against Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and LinkedIn available to the public as templates (in French), and are also allowing any European entity to reuse them to “attack GAFAM or so many others”. Going forward, the group have also promised to file further complaints against Skype, Outlook, Android, WhatsApp, and Instagram, again relating to this matter of forced consent.

Another day, another scandal involving Facebook…

As if the social media giant didn’t have enough problems on its hands right now in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and questions regarding the role the company allegedly played in the manipulation of US election results, Facebook have now been caught up in yet another lawsuit.

The lawsuit in question, filed in December on behalf of the Communications Workers of America union, accuses a number of companies of engaging in age discrimination among jobseekers by means of Facebook’s ad platform, and the lawsuit has now been expanded to include a slew of new companies including Arhaus, Capital One, Citadel, Defenders, Fairfield Residential, IKEA, Leidos, Sleep Number Corp., Triplebyte, Weichert Realtors, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, University of Maryland Medical System, and Facebook themselves. The aforementioned companies are yet to be named as formal defendants, the Register reports.

The accusations stem from the way in which ads can be filtered on Facebook, only appearing to people of a specified gender, race, or age range. The complaint claims that this goes against existing laws designed to promote equal opportunities and prevent discrimination in the job market.

The complaint states:

“A significant portion of large employers and employment agencies in America routinely use Facebook’s ad platform to exclude older workers from receiving employment ads, primarily by selecting an age range for the ad population that excludes older workers; and many companies also use Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature to send employment ads to workers who are demographically similar to their younger workforces.

“While Facebook makes it possible to limit which Facebook users will see an ad based on age of the user (including employment ads), federal, state, and local law prohibit age discrimination in advertising and recruiting for job opportunities.”

Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

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