Here are three things going on in the world of social media today – and why they matter.
Reel-ing in Users
With TikTok in potential jeopardy, Facebook is coming in with a spark of creator hope. Reels is a new Instagram feature that allows users to create short videos set to music with filters and effects. It’s the second TikTik-like feature Facebook’s rolled out – the previous being Lasso that was shut down in July.
Here’s why this matters. With the government proclaiming it’s going to ban TikTok, Reels is coming at the right time. Many creators choose to share TikTok content on Instagram and may jump on the bandwagon to adopt Reels in its stead – especially because of new discoverability options that should help increase viral posts on Instagram. But how many of the 30 million monthly active users in the U.S. are ready to abandon TikTok? We’ll see once there’s follow through on banning TikTok or not.
Facebook removed a post from Trump for violating the company’s misinformation policy. The president claimed children are “almost immune” to COVID-19 – which is very much false. His statement bolstered his argument that schools should reopen for the fall. Facebook pulled the post and cited its policy around spreading harmful COVID misinformation.
Here’s why this matters. After very publicly NOT taking a stand against mitigating hate speech and false information shared by the president, Facebook is taking a stand. Yay! Is this too little too late for the tech giant though? Or could it be a calculated move to appease multiple audiences as Reels launches just as TikTok is about the get the boot?
In Other Fake News
Social media has been lauded as a harbinger of fake news since… the onset of fake news. The current fake news cycle is spreading conspiracy theories on social media regarding the Beirut explosion. Early reports of the massive explosion in Beirut circulated on social media yesterday. Although most videos seemed authentic, misinformation spread rapidly ranging from suggesting fireworks as the culprit to the event being caused by a nuclear bomb. Conspiracy theories quickly popped up and spread out across social media channels – including posts from QAnon (the far-right conspiracy theorists Twitter keeps trying to ban).
Here’s why this matters. Social media can be a powerful tool in breaking news. Beyond user-generated content, we’re living in a period of user-generated news. People can capture anything from their phones and post instantly – long before reputable journalists and authorities can assess and report facts. Social media has come a long way since “The Miracle on the Hudson” with more people breaking and sharing news than ever before. In some ways, it’s a great thing. It’s how activists are capturing and sharing content that show the reality of what’s happening in the world. In other ways, it’s caused significant damage when false information is presented as fact.