Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion and is now merging its chats to Messenger. 

Image credit: Instagram

Instagram users will see a new pop-up when they open their apps as Facebook is integrating its chat systems. The editors at The Verge discovered the update pop-up on both Android and iOs devices bearing the message of the new way to message on Instagram. Features include a more colorful theme for the chat, more emojis, the swipe-to-reply, and the ability to chat with friends who are on Facebook. When updated, the DM icon of Instagram is changed into a Facebook Messenger logo. 

Facebook has been planning to unite its messaging platforms and allow its users to cross-message from WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. The social media giant reported then that it’s redoing all of its underlying infrastructure to allows its users to connect other apps to Facebook freely. Zuckerberg is also planning to make it more secure via end-to-end encryption. Facebook is now more equipped to go against Apple’s iMessage. 

The same cross-platform isn’t expected on WhatsApp mobile just yet. 

TikTok style video format debuted in India

Facebook is also debuting a TikTok style short-video format on its main app in India. The company confirmed the news with TechCrunch and said that they created the Short Videos section in the newsfeed. The launch came at a time when India banned TikTok in the country and since then, Facebook’s services have hiked to over 25%. YouTube, another platform, also rolled out the same feature for its users in India the recent weeks. 

Facebook has been pulling some of the most famous TikTok users and inviting them over to their services. Instagram also did the same thing and encouraging creators to jump ship from TikTok to Reels. With monetization in place, content creators now have more platforms to get their revenue from. 

What does this mean for you?

On merging Instagram and Messenger chats

Users will have an easier time connecting with others from both platforms – Messenger and Instagram. This is especially helpful for small businesses and brands that have built their digital footprints via Instagram and Facebook. Messaging is key to efficient sales service and being able to just swipe from one chat system to another makes the conversation seamless. 

On TikTok-esque features rolled in India

Facebook continues to test out new features and being the country with the most number of users, India serves as the perfect experiment. Facebook hasn’t released any statement whether they’re going to roll it out for its global users. 

Congress said that months of grueling investigations led to more than a million documents to support their case. 

Lawmakers will be facing the chief executives of the most powerful tech companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google in a long marathon of hearings. Over the years, the tech industry has been skirting many scrutinies for many reasons, mainly on antitrust. Since June, Congress has been investigating the aforementioned companies and this investigation ends with a showdown with the CEOs this Wednesday. The immense power that these tech giants hold and its implications in the economy will be the main topic in the hearing before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. 

Companies fight back

The companies are taking in varying measures to fight back. In their opening statement, all CEOs went into different approaches as well. Amazon Apple argued that they have opened jobs and opportunities for millions of people. Their platforms have also allowed others to set-up their businesses. Despite the power that these companies hold, both said that they are still facing intense competition from the global market. 

Tech giants speak of competition 

Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the US but Bezos points out that his company is facing competition fro other companies including Walmart, and newer ones such as Instacart and Shopify. Bezos also points out that his company is opening opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. Amazon has been able to create more than 2.2 million jobs globally. 

Google as well claims that even when it’s the most used search engine, there is still competition from other platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa,  WhatsApp, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter. All these platforms also provide information that users are searching for. Google Ads will also be included in the upcoming hearings. 

What does this mean for you?

Critics are pushing both Google and Facebook to promote competition and to reduce the concentration of power. In the 90s, Microsoft was found guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court asked Microsoft to divide the company, however, the company appealed and overturned the decisions. Later on, the case was settled. 

This may be a precedent to the present case. The companies may face fines and other punishments but it’d be a long shot to say that these companies be forced to be broken down into smaller companies. Whatever the decision may be, businesses that are in any of the platforms may be affected by the changes. 

“All these advertisers will be back,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Image credit: BBC

Several brands and industry giants have announced that they are boycotting Facebook advertising and unless the platform makes changes in its policies regarding social issues, these brands aren’t coming back. Despite the loss, Zuckerberg isn’t worried and has not hinted at any changes in the company policies. 

As reported by The Information, he said that all these advertising will be back on the platform soon. For him, the boycott is more of a reputational and partner issue rather than an economic issue. Zuckerberg also noted that the revenue coming from all these brands who decided to temporarily stop their ads take up very little space in Facebook’s overall revenue. The threat is small, he added. 

#StopHateForProfit campaign

The campaign started a civil rights movement for the previous weeks and many bug companies and personalities have shown their support. The Boycott has shed light on the company’s lack of policies in fighting against hate speech and protecting the innocent lives of people of color and those from the minorities. The misinformation and threats of violence in the platform is too rampant that many are calling for changes. 

Previous UK deputy prime minister and now Facebook’s VP Global Affairs and Communications, however, reassured companies that Facebook doesn’t benefit from hate speech and the company is looking for ways to remove hate speech in its platform. 

Facebook is making efforts in hearing out what the critics have to say but no solid decisions have been made as that will ultimately come from its CEO. 

What does this mean for you?

Brands have good intentions for supporting the cause but it doesn’t mean that it’s good for their business as well. Research from the University of Oxford has shown that brands will suffer in the long run due to Facebook’s influence over other medial channels. Temporarily pausing their ads on Facebook and letting it on will affect their brand and will impact their overall effectiveness in all the other advertising channels. Facebook ads indirectly help make other channels more effective and taking out Facebook ads from their strategy will affect their ads on other channels in the long term. 

While it wasn’t wrong for advertisers to take down and temporarily withdraw their ads to emphasize the spread of unsafe and unacceptable content. However, for the advertisers, this decision may prove to be detrimental for them especially in this economy. 

Instagram Stories are now one of Facebook’s most successful projects. Due to its success, an overhaul is coming to the platform. 

Image Credits: Instagram

More than half of Instagram users are using Stories on a regular basis, that’s 500 million people using the feature. This number is bigger than the active user base of Snapchat. The very first app that used Stories. With the attraction that Stories is brining to Instagram, the platform is making some changes with its format. 

Instagram Stories’ new format

Facebook-owned Instagram is now testing a feature that enables its users to see the Stories in a page via the home screen and a new page exclusive for Stories. Users will be seeing two rows of Stories this time instead of just seeing it at the top of their mobile screens. There’s a button that users can tap to See All Stories. Rather than a single row of scrollable Stories, there will now be a two-row carousel that can be expanded to a whole page section. Instagram first hinted with changes in its Stories back in May but there was no confirmation as to whether it’s a long-term change or not. 

Instagram confirmed the feature and said that the company is now testing the feature of a few of its users. No further details were given except announcing that the test has been going on for more than a month. 

The emerging of Stories 

All the leading social media today now have a Stories feature in their platforms. Snapchat started the craze, the others followed suit. Based on the report of Statista, the percentage of users using Stories in each platform is increasing. 

  • Facebook: 76%
  • Instagram: 83%
  • YouTube: 76%
  • Snapchat: 87%

What does this mean for you?

More than half of the users are using Stories on a daily basis. This feature is one of the most effective ways to increase a brand’s visibility. About 62% of Instagram users have said that they’ve become more interested in buying products from certain brands because of the brands’ Stories. 

This feature is vital for businesses’ campaigns. Brands and startups can even use Stories to run an ad. Several brands have used Instagram’s hyper-targeted ad platform using the Stories. The Stories feature is also a great way for brands to engage with their customers and followers. It can attract a more direct and personal kind of engagement with the customers. 

Facebook content moderators will now be given a minimum of $1,000 for psychological harm. 

Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to its current and former content moderators who are suffering from mental repercussions due to their job. As reported by The Verge, the settlement amount will be given to over 11,000 content moderators how have developed depression and other mental issues while on the job. 

The preliminary settlement filed in February of 2018 against Facebook as a class-action in SanMateo Superior Court. Facebook moderators have accused Facebook of not providing its workers with a safe work environment, instead, exposing them to mental harm. Moderators have claimed to have been diagnosed with psychological issues from regular exposure to violent content while working as content moderators. 

An employee told The Guardian, As a result of the first preliminary hearing last Friday, the company has acknowledged paying the damages that their job has done to American moderators including a provision of counseling while they work. 

Eligible moderators 

The moderators will receive a minimum fee of $1,000 and will get more if they are diagnosed with PTSD and related conditions. The additional compensation will range from $1,500 to $6,000. Facebook lawyers have said that almost half of all the 11,250 may be eligible to get the extra payment. Thee moderators will be from California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas from 2015 until now. 

Plaintiff, Steve Williams’, lawyer, told The Guardian that they are thrilled with the result of the lawsuits as its a relief for the workers who are suffering from real mental issues. 

Facebook aims to change its moderation process

Facebook will be renewing its moderation process and will now address the mental heal of the workers. They will be provided with access to a mental health professional, one-on-one coaching, therapy sessions, and turning the videos moderators see in black and white reduce the impact. Facebook will also have monthly group sessions for its moderators. 

Aside from that, the company will now screen applicants who are applying for moderator positions for emotional resiliency, educating moderators on how to report violations in Facebook’s workplace standards and others. 

The company is continuously aiming to develop a healthy working environment for its employees may they be moderators or not. In a statement, the company said that will provide support through this settlement now and in the future. 

Facebook intends to integrate Giphy to its family of apps including Facebook, Instagram, and others. 

Facebook announced that it’s buying Giphy, the GIf-making, and sharing website for $400 million. Vishal Shah, VP of Facebook Product wrote that Giphy will now be joining Facebook and Instagram’s team to create a more entertaining conversation among Facebook’s family of apps. Giphy is now one of the biggest sites on the web which enables users to create, share, and mix GIFs hassle-free. Giphy’s GIFs aren’t new to Facebook apps as the company has been using its API for years now. 

Image Credit: The Verge

Facebook said that 50% of Giphy’s traffic is from Facebook apps, half of which comes from Instagram. Giphy’s blog post, stated over 1 billion people are on Instagram. The company is keen on giving users another way to make their conversation livelier and more animated with GIFs. 

Easier conversations with Giphy GIFs

The talks for the partnership started before the pandemic began but was just formalized in the last few days. Shah added, Facebook is planning to invest in additional tech to develop Giphy. The goal of these updates to allow more relationships for content creators and developers. The acquisition will make it easier for users to look for the perfect GIFs for their conversations, stories, and DMs. Giphy was founded in 2013 with the single aim of making communication more entertaining and fun. 

Giphy x Facebook moving forward 

As part of the Instagram team, users will now be able to access Giphy’s massive library. Vishal Shah also said that not many changes would happen in the coming weeks. Users can continue uploading GIFs and the developers / API partners will still have access to Giphy’s API. 

What does this mean for you?

Brands go where people go, and brands do what people do. This statement sums up many advertising campaigns today. The advertising trends follow the style and the changes in trends of society. Brands should continue to utilize GIFs if they want to appeal to a younger audiences. Gifs are a welcoming way to strike up a casual conversation with your customers and eventually build strong business relationships with them. 

Users will soon be able to automatically share their locations with their closest friends via Facebook Messenger. 

Facebook Messenger is prototyping a version of Instagram “close friends” Auto Status which rolled out last October. This means that users can now share their locations with their friends to give them an idea of what they’re doing in a specific moment. 

Similar to Instagram’s feature, the auto status location works via an accelerometer to see the activity of the users. The info can then be shared with specific friends from the users’ list. However, your location won’t be tagged, the status is an emoji of the location, emojis include eating, hanging out, buying groceries, watching movies, or even basic activities such as charging your phone. 

Instagram users were not keen on the auto status feature when it was announced in 2018. Product Management Robby Stein explained that only the useful information will be relayed to the users’ friends. 

Source: Tech Times 

Auto status location release date 

Facebook confirmed the discovery via Twitter that it is indeed testing out the Auto Status for Messenger. There’s still no news from Facebook as to the date of release of the said new feature. Once rolled out, this will be the social media giant’s own version of AOL’s Away Message. This would allow users to still connect and know friends are doing without stalking them for information. This will make offline hangouts easier because close friends will just see where you are and what you’re doing. Though due to the global pandemic who knows when the function will see the light.

Facebook has been experimenting with different features and updates since 2018. Its developers have been busy with the updates. With the coming of emojis to the platform, users have been able to use them for their Messenger profile picture. 

Users will have the liberty to share and who to share the information to. There’d be no specific location to be shared such as addresses, names of places, or types of locations. 

What does this mean for you?

Like Instagram, this feature could be helpful to keep your close connections and be updated on their friends whereabouts. It will give users an idea of what their friends are doing before they ask them out.

The feature only allows information sharing between close friends. If brand can utilize this feature it could be beneficial for marketers. Knowing where your potential clients and customers are could help brands reach out at the right time.

To the dismay of Insta users, the chronological feed hasn’t been available for some time, but here’s hope for a return to form.

Instagram’s reverse-chronological feed has been gone for years and users have been vocal about its absence. With the possibility of a Latest Posts feature coming to Instagram. Users could soon be able to enjoy the app with classic functionality. The feature is a pop-up that appears on the users’ main feed. Once tapped, users are brought to a special area where the newest content from the people they follow are could be seen. 

Jane Manchun Wong discovered the prototype and tweeted about the feature in her Twitter account.

Facebook-owned Instagram didn’t comment on the said feature. However, the photo-sharing app has already confirmed the existence of Wong’s findings via a reply tweet. According to Instagram, the feature was from a recent hackathon which is a Facebook tradition.

In a reply to the tweet, Facebook EMEA communications manager, Alexandru Voica explained that the feature isn’t out for public use yet and Instagram has no plans of launching it at this time. 

Changes in Instagram’s feed

Instagram has explored many ways of presenting content to its users. In 2016, the company veered away from the reverse-chronological feed. Instead, Instagram opted for the automated that feed we’re now accustomed to. The content is now based on who and what users interact with. The switch to an algorithmic feed increased the engagement.

As of March 22, 2018, Instagram posted a blog explaining it is giving the users more control over their feed and see to it that they are seeing relevant and timely posts. The decision was due to the feedback from the users on the usage of the feedback algorithm. 

What does this mean for you? 

Instagram is a great platform for marketers and brands to increase their brand awareness and further expand their reach. Instagram works well for brands and other entrepreneurs when you create a cohesive Instagram feed. Users’ feed must be logical including its visual concept, captions, and hashtags. 

Posts on Instagram could reach a wider audience using the new feature if it goes live. Your posts will be visible according to the latest posts. Your new products will be seen by your target audience and will not be run over by older posts in their feeds. 

Despite the decrease, Instagram grows in profits

With apps like TikTok pulling from their users base Instagram is seeing a substantial decreased growth. The platform has had a slow decline in growth, though the percentage has just recently dipped below the double-digit mark. 

Since Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 the platform grew exponentially. From June of 2016 to June of 2018 the platform doubled in size going from 500 million users to 1 billion active users. Additionally, it was estimated that Instagram generated 14 billion in revenue.  

Though when compared to Instagram, The Verge reported, TikTok is coming up on 1.5 billion users since it’s launch outside of China.

Emarketer estimated that Instagram’s decline isn’t a just phase and the growth will continue to diminish over the coming years. 

“Growth will be at 4.5% in 2020, revised down from 5.4%, and in 2021, it will be 3.2% instead of 4.1%. Contributing to Instagram’s overall slower growth is the fact that older age groups are not joining the platform as quickly as anticipated.”

All of that to say while Instagram is seeing a continued decrease in users joining the platform that can’t detract from the fact that Instagram is a powerhouse.  

Social media is an industry that is always in flux. New competitors are arriving every year to take a bite out of the industry, and Instagram isn’t a spring chicken when it comes to what’s new. 

Despite the news that the platform isn’t growing by leaps and bounds, “Instagram will account for nearly 25 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue in 2020. This figure is expected to grow to 30 percent by 2020.” 

These stats make sense when considering that 63% of Instagram users log in each day. 

The real take away from this news is that while Instagram has seen a decrease in news users the platform is on track to be more profitable than it has ever been, and will continue to see high amounts of traffic. 

Pokémon Tower Battle and Pokémon Medallion Battle are now available on Facebook.

Facebook debuts two new Pokémon games in its Facebook gaming portal as part of the Instant Games platform for the social network. The launch marks the first time The Pokémon Co. has created online game titles for Facebook gaming.

The Pokémon Tower Battle was developed by and Indian studio Bombay Play while Pokémon Medallion Battle is developed by GCTurbo. Both games can be accessed through the gaming tab of the messenger app and Facebook’s homepage.

Pokémon Tower Battle

This online game is a unique take on the Pokémon franchise. Players compete by stacking Pokémon characters against one another to create the tallest Pokémon towers. Stacking can be done as gamers catch and level-up rare Pokémon. Players can compete against friends in real-time as well as charting global leaderboards. It may seem simple but this physics-based game relies heavily on strategy. This new game is now available worldwide.

Pokémon Medallion Battle

Unlike the first game, Pokémon Medallion Battle is only available to players in the Asia-Pacific (except Oceania and Vietnam) region for the meantime. It is a digital card battle strategy game. In this game, trainers collect, battle, and evolve their Pokémon in medallion form. Trainers along with their companions can win gym badges and complete their Pokédex. New Pokémon will also be introduced every month to help players to create an even better deck.

The collaboration of Facebook and The Pokémon Co.

“We are excited to launch two new entries in the Pokemon franchise on Facebook Gaming,” says Tsunekazu Ishihara, The CEO of The Pokemon Co. in the Facebook gaming blog post. The new collaboration between two platforms allows people all over the world to experience Pokémon in digital form.

Facebook relaunched its gaming-related efforts in order to be a competitor to Twitch and Discord. The hub gaming platform boasts over 700 million users to play video games. Every month, millions are also watching gaming-related movies and interact with video game-related teams. The Pokemon Co. is thrilled to utilize the social media giant’s global audiences to enjoy Pokemon games online.