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Is Bluesky The Twitter Alternative We've Been Waiting For?
And the Digital Marketing Changelog: Advertising, Analytics, Apps, AI, Browsers, eCommerce, Imagery, Media, Messaging, Search, Social Media, Video...and MUSIC MONDAY!
News that unapologetic White Nationalist and dethroned Fox News progagandist Tucker Carlson will resume his Nazi shitshow on Twitter is just another chapter in the inevitable slow-motion demise of the once-essential social platform.
It’s been Musked and I don’t see it recovering. To borrow from Hemingway, Twitter is likely to die gradually, then suddenly.
I was doing some research last week trying to find some Twitter accounts via the platform’s own search function but it was so bad, I had to turn to Google and do a site search of Twitter in order to find what I was looking for.
Twitter is currently being propped up by the addiction journalists, politicians and to a lesser degree, celebrities have for the platform.
I’m a big fan of Spoutible but the platform needs a serious public relations campaign to gin up some media coverage. The fact that mainstream media is covering the exodus of Black tech Twitter to Bluesky when Black-owned Spoutible exists illustrates my point.
Enter Bluesky, the Twitter alternative that is getting massive media attention despite it currently being waitlist-gated (I haven’t joined yet).
So why all the buzz?
First and foremost, I think, is the fact that Bluesky is owned by Jack Dorsey, who, of course, created Twitter. There’s a lot of credibility in that simple fact; if anyone can break through where the other Twitter alternatives have yet to, you’d imagine the guy who created Twitter would be the one who would be able to do it.
Like Mastodon, Bluesky has been built to be decentralized. 9to5Mac reports that:
Under the hood, Bluesky is based on the AT protocol (originally called ADX, or Authenticated Transfer Protocol). AT is similar to ActivityPub, the decentralized protocol that powers Mastodon.
As a decentralized social network, developers wouldn’t have full control over what users and other developers can do with the social network. Dorsey once said that platforms like Twitter shouldn’t have so much power “in terms of deciding which users and communities could engage in speech and who would be responsible for moderating that content.” He now serves on the board of directors of Bluesky.
That means that theoretically, anyone can set up a server with their own instance of Bluesky, just like Mastodon. The difference, however, is that at launch, those wanting to join Bluesky can only choose the Bluesky server.
That eliminates the cognitive overload that baffles Mastodon newcomers and helps to ensure the critical mass of users to allow the community thrive before inviting the fragmentation that multiple Blueskies (Blueskys?) would inevitably create.
The moderation toggles are just the start. A key goal of Bluesky Social is that it be decentralized—people linked across independently owned servers that use the AT Protocol protocol, with the Bluesky UI/UX overlaying it all. Crucially, users and servers will be able to label posts or specific users—e.g., with a tag like “racist”—and anyone can subscribe to that list of labels, blocking posts on that basis. Bluesky calls this “composable moderation.”…
Twitter was always best understood as an electric boulevard of serendipity and sin. This was the source of all misery on the platform, and its myriad joys and benefits. What Bluesky is proposing is the abolition of serendipity.
I don’t know about that last sentence; it seems a stretch. TBD, I guess.
Paid Subscribers: The next segment of Chapter 2 will be published on Wednesday.
you can set your domain as your handle, if you wish. This could help with verification, which became a heated issue for Twitter once Musk began removing blue check marks from verified accounts that refused to pay a monthly fee.
"For example, a newsroom like NPR could set their handle to be @npr.org," the Bluesky Social company blog notes. "Then, any journalists that NPR wants to verify could use subdomains to set their handles to be @name.npr.org. Brand accounts could set their handle to be their domain as well."
This is a fantastic feature and an elegant solution for verifying the authenticity of acconts. Since domain names are controlled by those who purchase them, the ability to point your domain and sub-domains to your Bluesky profile affords a level of assurance social platforms themselves have struggled to achieve and insulates domain holders from the whims of a platform owner.
Additionally, the equity you build through your activity on the site accrues to your domain, not the platform’s.
As the company notes on its website, Bluesky, the app, is meant to show off what the AT Protocol can do, similar to how early browsers demonstrated the potential of the web.
According to Bluesky, one of the biggest differences between AT and other decentralized social networking standards is how it handles account portability. “With the AT Protocol, you can move your account from one provider to another without losing any of your data or social graph,” the company explains.
This is a tremendous benefit. Few people want to join a new social network if they don’t know anyone there. If you can take your followers with you, that’s a massive incentive to switch to another social site if you don’t like your current one.
In the early days of social media, platforms quickly decided to shut down such portability by way of creating lock-in to their own platform.
There is definitely a backlash against algorithmically-powered social feeds that push content it thinks you want. A lot of people only want to see the content from the accounts they follow.
According to a blog post by CEO Jay Graber, Bluesky aims to replace the conventional "master algorithm," controlled by a single company, with an open and diverse "marketplace of algorithms."
Algorithms in the platform will act as aggregator services, similar to search engines, allowing users to find, share, and add algorithms to their feed.
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Public Benefit LLC
NBC News reports that Bluesky was founded as a public benefit limited liability company, which could:
have an impact on the app’s culture moving forward. A public benefit LLC allows executives to pursue social causes without prioritizing shareholder returns.
The Power Users
Insider reports that some prominent Democratic politicians are joining Bluesky, including:
Rep. Robert Garcia of California,
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York,
Rep. Maxwell Frost of Florida,
Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.
It makes a lot of sense that Democrats would be joining the platform because, like, they are really opposed to White Nationalists, Nazis and Fascists…for obvious reasons.
According to Bluesky spokeswoman Emily Liu, the current assortment of members of Congress is largely a coincidence, with each having "found their way to the platform organically" and "received invitations from other people on the app."
No Heads Of State, Please
But it looks like Bluesky is not ready to accept heads of state (or, tellingly, recent heads of state) to the platform, The Verge reports. This is likely because Bluesky is either not ready to deal with the moderation issues that would entail, hasn’t yet figured out what their policy would be if, for example, Trump joined, or both.
James Gunn, Chrissy Teigen, Rian Johnson and other celebrities have joined in recent days. So have other recognizable Twitter users like WeRateDogs, Dril, darth and Musk nemesis ElonJet.
The fact that I’m citing all these articles from journalists who have access to Bluesky should tell you something. It is precisely that tactic I would employ were I launching a Twitter alternative.
The journalists I’ve seen cited on Bluesky include CNN’s Jake Tapper, NBC News reporter Ben Collins, and many others.
Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic observes:
It’s hard not to see Bluesky and its recent evolution as an opposition movement to Musk’s version of Twitter. The platform revolves around replicating the joy of Twitter’s early days: the informality, the in-jokes, the feeling of familiarity, and an overall lack of toxic users. My timeline is chaotic, but earnestness abounds. The decisions about content-moderation issues such as blocking and banning are happening in real time and, for now, are driven by the values of the community. At present, those values seem to be to build the polar opposite of whatever it is Musk has turned Twitter into. At its small size, it’s a lovely place—one user described it as a poster’s “Valhalla.”
Bluesky is also an attempt at status migration. Currently, it is filled with former Twitter power users who are rightfully fed up with being on a platform whose official policies seem intended to troll them, open them up to harassment, and make their experience less enjoyable. Status is about respect, and it’s clear that most of Bluesky’s users have left a platform they feel does not respect them. It’s exciting to watch new status relationships evolve. Users with a penchant for shitposting, for example, and those who embody the puckish spirit of the early internet are the first platform celebrities. Those who have come aboard to harass or repeat old culture-war fights are pariahs.
Just being a Bluesky user is a potent status signal. As an invite-only platform that is stingy about doling out new golden tickets, Bluesky is an exclusive community. The platform tracks who invited whom, and it recently announced that content-moderation decisions may take into consideration the chain of invites—if you invite trolls who go on to break the rules, you could be punished. This adds a reputational component to the platform. Bluesky users are motivated to invite high-quality, high-status people, which means that invites confer significant status on the recipients.
My emphasis, of course.
What We Lose With The Demise Of Twitter
Yes, there’s a lot to hate about Twitter even before Musk; moreso now. Let’s name a few:
Incels and misogynists
Racists and targeted harassment
Political interference from foreign actors
Radicalization of Americans (though this is a problem all social networks have)
But there’s a lot we lose with the demise of Twitter, as well.
Twitter is unique among the major social platforms. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and even Instagram, the content published on Twitter is mostly public.
And that simple fact has made it the default global public square where journalists, politicians, public officials, subject matter experts, celebrities, and the rest of us unwashed masses mingle, interact, congregate and debate in public.
It has been the default channel for breaking news for both professional and citizen journalists alike.
It has enabled a measure of accountability through public pressure on organizations, companies, governments and public figures alike. Would the Arab Spring or Black Lives Matter occured without Twitter?
It has served as public service announcment platform for everything from Amber Alerts to tornado warnings to changes in bus schedules.
It has enabled the formation of communities of interests that might not have otherwise found one another at scale, from Black Twitter to SEO nerds.
Through access to the “Twitter firehose” of data, it has enabled insight into what a significant segment of the public thinks about any topic through social listening tools. Here’s a screen recording I made in 2010 of Twitter discussions about an episode of the TV show Glee that illustrates the point:
It has allowed individuals with a unique or compelling point of view or with a specific expertise to make a name for themselves and acquire a level of influence they might not otherwise have had.
It is quite literally embedded in our culture with Tweets embedded in news stories and blog posts and cited in media coverage.
If a decentralized Twitter alternative can restore the best of what Twitter once was while solving for it’s glaring flaws and ensuring stability not dependent upon a single individual or organization, then I’m all for it.
Bluesky’s Smart Roll Out
The decision to initially roll out Bluesky by inviting members of the very audiences that continue to prop up Twitter is a smart one. It serves several purposes:
It generates buzz by activating the very audiences who have the largest audiences and who will talk the loudest about Bluesky
It further undermines Twitter by generating excitement among the remaining non-fascist Twitter power users
It helps the development team improve the platform by soliciting feedback from power users who will likely provide the most thoughtful advice
The invite-only exclusivity creates that poweful motivator to join that we marketers know as FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out
Timing, of course, is everything and Bluesky arrives on the scene when other social platforms have had their moment only to falter (Clubhouse & BeReal), have piqued interest but then cooled (Mastodon & Post), or don’t appear to have the financial muscle to compete (Spoutible).
It also arrives at a time when journalists seem ripe to jump Twitter’s ship. Here’s a screenshot I took recently of CNN’s Michael Smerconish promoting not just his Twitter account but his Facebook account as well.
First time I’ve ever seen that. It feels like he’s hedging his bet against Twitter.
Digital Marketing Changelog
TechCrunch - YouTube gives advertisers new ad formats across Shorts - Video reach campaigns use Google AI to improve reach by combining ad formats like skippable and non-skippable ads. With the update, advertisers can now upload a 60-second vertical video in order to reach engaged viewers.
Previously, brands could only access Shorts inventory via Video action campaigns and App Install campaigns, which the company announced in 2022 during Google Marketing Live…
Shorts currently attracts 1.5 billion viewers each month, the company said during its announcement, and Shorts are now seeing 50 billion views daily.
Looks like Shorts are taking off.
Search Engine Land - Roku streaming collaboration and 5 other Microsoft Ads updates for May - The new advancements include Roku collaboration, streamlined video management, code-free conversion goals, and expanded language support.
More over-the-top video ad options.
TheStreet - Walmart, Amazon and Other Retailers Are Going Deeper Into Advertising - Brick and mortar retailers are pushing to exploit their customer data to boost their own sales and profits.
Over the past few years, major retailers like Amazon Inc. and Walmart Stores Inc. and even grocery delivery firm Instacart have been rapidly building their own digital ad networks, directly challenging Alphabet Inc., Meta Platforms Inc., and news media organizations for lucrative ad dollars.
The more, the merrier.
TechCrunch - Amazon will juice its Freevee free streaming service with 100+ Amazon Originals in 2023 - As part of its pitch to advertisers this week at the IAB NewFronts, Amazon announced today it has plans to bring over 100 Amazon Original series and movies from Amazon Prime Video to its ad-supported free streaming service Amazon Freevee (previously known as IMDb TV). The titles will be released throughout the year, the company says, noting this marks the first time marketers will be able to advertise against this group of Amazon Originals, and in a traditional ad format.
Before, the only opportunity available to advertise on Amazon Originals on Prime Video was with virtual product placement, announced at last year’s NewFronts presentation. But traditional advertising, like ad break, had not yet been an option for brands within programming on Amazon Originals on Prime Video.
The audience of traditional cable television viewers continues to shrink as people increasingly opt for streaming options. This opens up inventory for television advertising without the need for a traditional TV budget with the added bonus of better measurement.
Search Engine Land - TikTok’s new ad product gives publishers 50% stake - TikTok has just announced the launch of a new product, Pulse Premiere, aimed at enabling publishers to sell advertisements alongside their content.
How it works. Pulse Premiere is an extension of TikTok’s existing Pulse program, where a select group of top creators receive half the revenue from video advertisements shown immediately after their posts.
Is it just me, or does this feel like a cynical play to get the influencers the Biden campaign is courting to advocate against a TikTok ban?
Slate - Meta Is Up to Something With A.I. - n February, Meta announced the release of LLaMA, its answer to ChatGPT. Is this the first time you’re hearing about it? If so, you would not be alone. Though LLaMA has drawn praise for its efficiency, it’s unlikely that many of your friends have tried it, because it’s only readily available to A.I. researchers. There’s no easy-to-use chatbot to play with just yet, though that’s supposedly in development along with all kinds of other tools, which Mark Zuckerberg is eerily referring to as “A.I. personas.”
The plan is to apply the tech to its advertising system.
Search Engine Land - GA4 custom funnel reports are here - Custom funnel reports can now be created inside Google Analytics 4 (GA4), allowing you to view the steps website visitors can follow to complete a task and assess the number of users who abandon the process between each step.
VentureBeat - Salesforce unveils Tableau data analysis tools driven by generative AI - Salesforce announced the launch of two new tools for AI-assisted data analytics. Tableau GPT and Tableau Pulse aim to deliver an improved data analysis experience through a new approach powered by generative AI. The new tools provide Tableau users automatic data analysis and personalized analytics experiences.
PetaPixel - Pop! is a New Analog Photo Editor Designed to Replace VSCO - Pop! is an analog photo and video editor that includes multiple film emulations, filters, and photo editing tools and is aimed at iPhone photographers who don’t want to feel forced to pay for subscription services.
The Verge - Artifact is taking on Twitter and Substack by letting you follow writers - Artifact, the AI-powered news app from Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, has a new feature that makes it even more of a news-focused social media app. With the latest version of the Artifact app, you can now follow individual writers. Articles from those writers will be prioritized in your feed and you can opt to get notifications when those writers post.
I dunno. I haven’t really been that impressed with Artifact so far.
PetaPixel - AI Social Media App ‘Hotshot’ Makes Fake Photos of You With Friends - A new social media app called Hotshot uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate fake photos of users and their friends — in any scenario that they want.
Last week, one of the app’s co-founders Aakash Sastry announced the launch of Hotshot, declaring: “Imagine if Midjourney knew what your friends looked like… Make photos with anyone in your contacts doing anything.”
Sounds like fun.
The Verge - Anthropic leapfrogs OpenAI with a chatbot that can read a novel in less than a minute - An often overlooked limitation for chatbots is memory. While it’s true that the AI language models that power these systems are trained on terabytes of text, the amount these systems can process when in use — that is, the combination of input text and output, also known as their “context window” — is limited. For ChatGPT it’s around 3,000 words. There are ways to work around this, but it’s still not a huge amount of information to play with.
Now, AI startup Anthropic (founded by former OpenAI engineers) has hugely expanded the context window of its own chatbot Claude, pushing it to around 75,000 words. As the company points out in a blog post, that’s enough to process the entirety of The Great Gatsby in one go. In fact, the company tested the system by doing just this — editing a single sentence in the novel and asking Claude to spot the change. It did so in 22 seconds.
Ohmigod, this is so needed!
TechCrunch - OpenAI’s new tool attempts to explain language models’ behaviors - It’s often said that large language models (LLMs) along the lines of OpenAI’s ChatGPT are a black box, and certainly, there’s some truth to that. Even for data scientists, it’s difficult to know why, always, a model responds in the way it does, like inventing facts out of whole cloth.
In an effort to peel back the layers of LLMs, OpenAI is developing a tool to automatically identify which parts of an LLM are responsible for which of its behaviors. The engineers behind it stress that it’s in the early stages, but the code to run it is available in open source on GitHub as of this morning.
This is essential. It should be enforced by regulation of any AI company. We need algorithmic transparancy.
The Information - Scared of Leaking Data to ChatGPT? Microsoft Tests a Private Alternative - While the new artificial intelligence–powered chatbot has proved popular with some businesses looking to automate business tasks, other companies, such as banks, have avoided adopting ChatGPT for fear that their employees would inadvertently give the chatbot proprietary information when they use it. Microsoft, which has the rights to resell the startup’s technology, has a plan to win over the holdouts.
Later this quarter Microsoft’s Azure cloud server unit plans to sell a version of ChatGPT that runs on dedicated cloud servers where the data will be kept separate from those of other customers, according to two people with knowledge of the upcoming announcement.
This is the killer app that is going to transform business operations.
TechCrunch - Google launches a GitHub Copilot competitor - At its annual I/O developer conference, Google announced the launch of a number of AI-centric coding tools, including its competitor to GitHub’s Copilot, a chat tool for asking questions about coding and Google Cloud services, as well as AI-assisted coding in Google’s no-code AppSheet product.
Integrate with BigQuery, please!
engadget - Google opens up access to its text-to-music AI - The generative AI landscape has shifted dramatically this year, however, and now Google feels comfortable enough to let the public try MusicLM. "We’ve been working with musicians like Dan Deacon and hosting workshops to see how this technology can empower the creative process," Google Research product manager Hema Manickavasagam and Google Labs product manager Kristin Yim wrote in a blog post.
This will be used for background music for video production and for podcast intros and outros.
The Verge - Google drops waitlist for AI chatbot Bard and announces oodles of new features - Google is adding a smorgasbord of new features to its AI chatbot Bard, including support for new languages (Japanese and Korean), easier ways to export text to Google Docs and Gmail, visual search, and a dark mode. Most significantly, the company is removing the waitlist for Bard and making the system available in English in 180 countries and territories. It’s also promising future features like AI image generation powered by Adobe and integration with third-party web services like Instacart and OpenTable.
How about integrating it directly into Docs and Gmail?
TechCrunch - With DeepFloyd, generative AI art gets a text upgrade - DeepFloyd, a research group backed by Stability AI, unveiled DeepFloyd IF, a text-to-image model that can “smartly” integrate text into images. Trained on a dataset of more than a billion images and text, DeepFloyd IF, which requires a GPU with at least 16GB of RAM to run, can create an image from a prompt like “a teddy bear wearing a shirt that reads ‘Deep Floyd'” — optionally in a range of styles.
This stuff just keeps getting better…and quickly.
The Verge - ChatGPT can now find you a house - Zillow has announced the launch of a new plug-in for ChatGPT. It is called, as you might expect, the ChatGPT plug-in. And if you enable it, you will be able to do what you’d expect something called the Zillow ChatGPT plug-in to allow you to do: search for a house.
Plugins will be the new way to get discovered in an AI-chat world.
Axios - Exclusive: Mozilla buys startup that spots fake reviews - Mozilla has acquired Fakespot, a small startup whose website and browser plug-in help users identify bogus product reviews on e-commerce sites.
Why it matters: Fake reviews, both man-made and machine generated, are a huge problem for consumers and businesses alike.
TechCrunch - Amazon’s TikTok-like Inspire shopping feed is now available to all customers in the US - Amazon’s in-app TikTok-like shopping feed is now available to all customers in the United States, according to the company’s website. The feature rolled out to select U.S. customers in December after Amazon had been spotted experimenting with a TikTok-like shopping feed last summer.
The new short-form video and photo feed allows consumers to explore products and ideas and shop from content created by influencers, brands and other customers.
The Verge - Google’s new Magic Editor uses AI to totally transform your photos - Google shared a couple examples of Magic Editor in action that are both pretty cool. In one, a photo of a person in front of a waterfall, Google entirely moves the person further to the side of the photo, erases people in the background, and makes the sky a prettier blue.
In another photo, Magic Editor scoots a child on a bench closer to the middle of the photo, which generates “new” parts of the bench and balloons to the left to fill in the space. In this example, Google again makes the sky more vibrant.
Axios - The Messenger to launch May 15 with 150 journalists - The Messenger, a well-funded news startup founded by longtime media entrepreneur Jimmy Finkelstein, will launch in beta with 200 employees on May 15, the company’s president Richard Beckman told Axios. Two-thirds of that headcount will be newsroom employees.
Why it matters: The company doesn't plan to raise any additional capital outside of the $50 million it raised ahead of launch. In order to sustain its ambitious growth plans involving more than 500 additional hires, The Messenger will need to make a lot of money, quickly.
Discord - Evolving Usernames On Discord - Discord usernames are changing to remove four-digit discriminators. Display Names are being added so how you appear to other users stays the same. We will be assigning priority to choose your new username based on when you registered for Discord, Nitro status, and ownership of partner and verified servers. For more information see our Help Center article here.
Good. My username is derickson#7816. That pound/number naming convention is just weird.
9To5Google - Google Messages ‘Magic Compose’ AI can reply to friends – or write them a song - Here’s a first look at the upcoming generative AI-powered “Magic Compose” feature coming to Google Messages, which can write a meaningful reply to a message or wax poetic with a song.
TechCrunch - Microsoft doubles down on AI with new Bing features - Since launching Bing Chat, its AI-powered chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 and DALL-E 2 models, Microsoft says that visitors to Bing — which has grown to exceed 100 million daily active users — have engaged in over half a billion chats and created more than 200 million images.
Bing will become more visual, thanks to more image- and graphic-centric answers in Bing Chat. It’ll also become more personalized, with capabilities that’ll allow users to export their Bing Chat histories and draw in content from third-party plugins. And it’ll embrace multimodality, at least in the sense that Bing Chat will be able to answer questions within the context of images.
Bing is definitely giving Google a run for its money.
Search Engine Land - Google Search to become more “visual, snackable, personal, and human” - Google is supposedly going to make shifts away from listing the classic “ten blue links,” the listings of websites in its search results and instead will provide a more “visual, snackable, personal, and human” layout and interface designed to appeal more to younger searchers.
What did I just say?
9To5Google - Google Photos getting ‘more powerful search’ that supports ‘complex queries’ - Search is one of Google Photos’ most underrated features, bringing the ability to look up objects without any prior tagging on your part. Google Photos is now “experimenting” with “more powerful search.”
In recent days, opening Google Photos on the web resulted, for some, in a blue “Try a more powerful search” prompt. Google explains how you can search for phrases and ideas.
This is great! I swear by Google Photos. I like Flickr but you have to label your photos if you wanted to easily find them again. Google’s machine vision technology has eliminated the need for labelling.
Search Engine Roundtable - Google Search Video Results With Pros and Cons Within Video - Google Search can show video results, including key moments within the videos. But now Google seems to break down the pros and cons, if available, in a video review for a product.
Mashable - WordPress drops Twitter social sharing due to API price hike - Under Musk, Twitter has shut down its free API offerings to developers looking to build Twitter-based apps or integrations. In its place, the company announced exorbitantly-priced paid Enterprise subscription tiers, which start at $42,000 per month, earlier this year.
According to a statement released by WordPress.com's parent company Automattic, the platform is removing Twitter from Jetpack, an official WordPress plugin run by the company. Among its many security and marketing offerings, Jetpack Social provides users with the ability to automatically share content directly to an array of social media platforms from their WordPress sites.
Fewer social shares to Twitter means less content on Twitter which translates into a smaller ad inventory.
Wired - Twitter’s Purge of Old Accounts Will Be Pure Chaos - It’s a move that, as with so much on Musk’s Twitter, could be chaotic. Single-word or -letter Twitter accounts, long-dormant profiles of celebrities who have died, like Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, and cherished brands that have abandoned Twitter or were taken over by squatters, such as @Nintendo3DS, could all be taken over by new owners.
The Verge - Mozilla’s setting up shop on Mastodon and trying to reinvent content moderation - If you want to be a member of Mozilla.Social, Mozilla’s new Mastodon instance, you’re not allowed to harass other users. You’re also not allowed to use derogatory language about gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, age, ability, or any other “physical, social or cultural attributes or classifications.” You can’t spread misinformation and disinformation, either. Or impersonate someone. Some of these are normal policies, some are unusually heavy-handed, and they’re all hard to litigate. But Mozilla’s stance is pretty simple and extremely unusual in the social media universe: if it’s debatable, it’s gone.
I’ll be fascinated to see if this gains traction.
The Verge - It’s getting easier to make an account on Mastodon - The decentralized network announced that it will start directing new users to create an account on mastodon.social instead of prompting them to choose from one of the thousands of other servers on the platform.
This update doesn’t mean that Mastodon’s taking away the ability for new users to sign up for an account in a specific community, though. It will simply present two separate options on its signup page: “Join mastodon.social” or “Pick my own server.” The service’s flagship mastodon.social server is the platform’s largest, but the network notes that users can swap instances at any time.
This is helpful. I’ll keep an eye on whether it helps boost monthly active user numbers.
MacStories - Mona: A Unique Mix of Customization Options and Features You Won’t Find in Any Other Mastodon App - Mona is a brand new, highly customizable Mastodon client from Junyu Kuang, the developer of Spring, which is one of the few remaining third-party Twitter clients that still works and pioneered many of the features found in Mona. Mona, which is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, is a power-user app through and through.
So, a complicated app for a complicated platform or a robust app for tech-savvy user base?
The Verge - Reddit reworks sharing from its apps and the look of link embeds for better social reach - If you’ve ever tried to share a Reddit link from the official app on, for instance, iMessage on an iPhone, you might recall it not having a particularly content-rich preview. Now the company is enhancing it with a more robust visual preview of the content, its subreddit name, and the number of upvotes and comments it has.
I’m increasingly impressed with how Reddit has cleaned up it’s act. It used to be a bit of a cesspool.
TechCrunch - RTRO launches an algorithm-free social app for friends, creators and brands - Ahead of Meta’s launch of a text-based social network, female-founded social networking startup RTRO is launching its app this week with the goal of connecting brands, creators and their fans and followers in a more positive environment focused on human connections and communities, not algorithm-driven content. To accomplish this, RTRO divides its social experience into two parts — on one side, you can keep up with friends or family in RTRO’s “circles.” On the other side, users can switch over to see content from creators and brands in their own space.
In addition, RTRO claims to offer robust content moderation features that focus on keeping the app free from bullying and toxicity and the ability to interact with ChatGPT.
I don’t think this is a Twitter alternative.
The Verge - BeReal is making a feed of just famous people - BeReal is releasing another feature that seems to counter the purpose of the app: a feed dedicated to famous people. Instead of exchanging daily photos with your friends, now you’ll get to see what the top athletes, artists, and activists of the world are up to.
BeReal, the app that markets itself as “Your friends for real,” gives you different windows of time each day to take a selfie and front-facing photo that gets shared with friends. The whole point of the app is to randomly share what you’re up to with friends, whether you’re doing something as boring as laying in bed or sitting in front of your computer at work.
But now, BeReal is throwing strangers into the mix.
Search Engine Land - 3 new Facebook Reels features - Facebook is introducing three new ways for users to find short-form videos that are most relevant to them, as well as new controls to help customize their video experiences on the platform.
Wow. I saw this TV commercial this weekend and did a double-take:
The cease and desist letter is in the mail.