To celebrate the end of the year, I thought I’d pick out some of my favourite, most notable changes to social media platforms this year, as well as making a prediction or two about what might happen next year. Ready?
Twitter storms have literally just reached us in the last few days, and I am here for it. Back in September, test for Twitter Storms were first noticed on the android app. Even with the introduction of 280 characters (more on that later) people like to write a lot on Twitter, and this is where threads were born. Before, you’d have to manually reply to yourself and remember to write “1/x” at the end of each tweet to signify you were starting a thread. Now, things are much easier, you can write all the tweets you want to be included in a thread together, and then tweet all once your done. Simples.
3D Bitmoji came to Snapchat this year (yay the platform lives on – for now) and I think this was a really nice addition to the platform and gave users something to play around with. As you will probably know, Snapchat lets you place a Bitmoji of yourself in your environment using World Lenses. Pretty cool when you’re —- when you’re what. Trying to procrastinate? Yas. Trying to impress your friends. Nope. It’s adds a bit of variety to the world lenses on offer on Snapchat and offers short term entertainment. Note that this is one collaboration Instagram haven’t matched – yet.
Twitter Character Limit
One of the most significant changes we’ve seen this year is Twitter’s character limit increase. First tested in early October, a selection of users across the network were given access to a whopping 280 characters. At this point in time, Jack Dorsey reached out and asked that constructive criticism be given so that they could try to “learn and confirm” their ideas. I think that this was to try and remain in favour of Twitter users, especially after all the backlash the company has faced this year due to abuse being prevalent on the platform. Finally, in mid November the new character limit rolled out to all users (unless you’re tweeting in Japanese, Korean or Chinese) and we all had to adjust to reading miniature essays. There was a joke floating around the platform that over the years Twitter has reduced our attention span so much that anything more than 140 characters seems like a chore. Ha!
How are you finding 280 characters? Do you often find yourself needing to use those extra characters?
And finally, I’ve selected Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency on the network as my final fave this year. This has really caught my attention during 2017 because we’ve seen a complete U-turn in how Facebook has responded to the idea that they do hold an influence over people.
At the end of 2016 during a live broadcast for Techonomy, Mark Zuckerberg denied that fake news circulating on Facebook had anything to do with the 2016 US Election results, stating that it was a “pretty crazy idea”. However, by September 2017 Zuckerberg switched sides and in a Facebook post wrote “Calling that idea crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive”.
I was glad to see this recognition that misinformation most definitely played a part in the election, and this seems to have paved the way for both advertising transparency – so you can see all the ads a Page has written whether they’re targeted to you or not – and soon to be released data on whether you might have been influenced by the Internet Research Agency’s content.
With this impending update however, it’s questionable what Facebook is actually trying to achieve here. Yes, it’s good that users will be able to see if they were duped into believing information that was written by trolls – but what are you supposed to do then? Chances are if you were heavily influenced by fake news, you a) won’t be going back through the data to check if you were or weren’t and b) may well hold the same opinion, fake news or not, because it was so long ago.
What to look out for next year:
During 2018 I’m going to be keeping a close eye on Facebook especially, to see what they do with transparency and if they are actually trying to help, or whether they’re more trying to show that they’re doing the right thing.
I’m also very excited to see how Instagram and Snapchat fair next year. Instagram has given Snapchat quite a few knocks during 2017 and it’s going to be good to see how Snapchat bounces back, or perhaps admits defeat for good.
What has been your favourite social media development from 2017?