Twitter Checkmark Fiasco vs. Google Ads Badges
Digital Marketing Changelog: Advertising, Analytics, Apps, AI, Audio, Browsers, Operating Systems, Search Engines, Social Media, Publishing & Video
Musk’s decision to sell checkmarks to anyone willing to pay him a few bucks a month has rendered the trust previously implicit in the checkmark meaningless. When anyone can be “verified,” no one is verified.
Opening the checkmark floodgates to all comers has invited pranksters, scammers, and maligned actors to wreak havoc on the platform.
The New York Times has an extensive breakdown of the effects and consequences of Musk’s idiotic move. Among them:
In the 24 hours after Twitter last week eliminated the blue check mark that historically served as a means of identifying public agencies, at least 11 new accounts began impersonating the Los Angeles Police Department.
More than 20 purported to be various agencies of the federal government. Someone pretending to be the mayor of New York City promised to create a Department of Traffic and Parking Enforcement and slash police funding by 70 percent.
After a public dispute with NPR, which Twitter falsely labeled state-affiliated media, the platform last week removed all labels that had identified state-owned media, including those controlled by authoritarian states like Russia, China and Iran.
That, coupled with a decision to stop blocking recommendations for them, has coincided with a spike in engagement for many of these accounts, according to research by the Digital Forensic Research Lab and another organization that studies disinformation, Reset, which is based in London.
In Sudan, new accounts on Twitter are falsely representing both sides of the civil war that has erupted there. One account that, presumably, bought a blue check mark falsely proclaimed the death of Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, the leader of the rebel Rapid Support Forces. More than 1.7 million people viewed the tweet.
Badges are nothing new, of course; many sites provide them but as we have recently discovered, they are only as good as the integrity of the organization providing them.
Contrast Elon Musk’s Twitter with Google, which has recently been testing badges for its search advertisers.
Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reports:
Google Ads is also testing a gold verification badge or label in the search results. We saw a blue verification label and then a blue badge-style label and now we are seeing the label in gold.
Last week, I noticed the ability to verify organizations in the Google Ads interface via what looks like a fairly thorough process for proving to Google you are who you claim to be.
My reading of the tea leaves here is that Google is acutely aware of the danger posed by mis- and dis-information to it’s cash cow and is implementing measures to bolster trust in its advertisers and by extension, its ads.
Here’s the question, though: Does Elon Musk’s destruction of the validity of badges in Twitter tarnish the trust of badges everywhere?
Paid subscribers: The next segment of Chapter 2 of The Reputation Algorithm will be published on Wednesday.
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Digital Marketing Changlog
Search Engine Advertising
Search Engine Land - TikTok enters the search ad market, challenging Google and Microsoft - TikTok is preparing to launch its own search ads platform, which will allow advertisers to bid on specific keywords and phrases related to their products or services. During the beta test rollout last year, testers confirmed that when search ads were enabled, advertisers could gather the search terms responsible for conversions and leverage those high click-through rate search terms as headlines for their best-performing TikTok videos, resulting in additional benefits.
TechCrunch - Pinterest announces multi-year ads partnership with Amazon alongside earnings beat - Pinterest announced a multiyear strategic ad partnership with Amazon aimed at bringing more brands and relevant products to its platform. The new deal will make the e-commerce giant Pinterest’s first partner on third-party ads, the company said in a blog post shared alongside its first-quarter earnings beat.
Search Engine Land - Google Ads Editor version 2.3 is out with 12 new features - Google has just released its Ads Editor version 2.3, advertisers can take advantage of several new features and updates.
Search Engine Land - Safari tightens grip on third-party interactions - Apple’s Safari browser, long known for its emphasis on user privacy, is further restricting data collection methods. The move has sparked frustration, particularly due to Apple’s lack of communication about the change, which will impact the architecture of numerous websites.
Search Engine Land - Google to sunset 4 attribution models in Ads and Analytics - Google will retire four rules-based attribution models in Google Ads and Google Analytics: 1) First-click, 2) Linear, 3) Time decay, and 4) Position-based.
CodeX - Google launches 2 important Updates for Looker Studio - More Big Data and option for scorecards within charts available.
Search Engine Roundtable - Bing Chat To Show Referrer Analytics Data In Coming Weeks - It is hard for site owners, content creators, and marketers to know how much traffic and visibility they get from Bing Chat. But that might change soon, as Fabrice Canel from Microsoft said they will soon pass referrer data and show clicks and impressions.
MarTech - Google to remove GA4 integration with Optimize - Google will be removing the Google Analytics 4 integration with the A/B testing and personalization tool, Optimize. In fact, the entire platform is shutting down and sunsetting in September 2023. If you’re using it in any way beyond GA, it will affect your strategy. If you don’t use Optimize, your strategy can transform and evolve with this change.
A recent announcement has confirmed that something much bigger and better is coming soon. There will be new integrations with Google Analytics 4, including popular platforms Optimizely, VWO, and AB Tasty. It doesn’t stop there. There’s essentially unlimited opportunities for integrations. A public API will be available that will allow any third-party experiment tool to connect to GA4.
The Verge - Google Authenticator finally, mercifully adds account syncing for two-factor codes - Google Authenticator is adding a long-standing customer request: you can now sync your two-factor authentication codes to your Google account. So when you set up a new phone and log in to your account, Authenticator will be ready to go without requiring its own setup process. This also means that if you lose your phone or it’s stolen, getting back into your accounts from another device will be less of a nerve-racking ordeal.
PetaPixel - Nocam is a New Social Video App That Doesn’t Let You See The Camera - Nocam is a new social video app that lets users take part in video challenges with their friends. However, the app which describes itself as “BeReal meets TikTok” has a radical premise that separates and reinvents itself from other social media platforms — it turns off the camera so users are unable to see how they look while filming a video. Sounds like a winner.
Washington Post - WhatsApp just added this long-requested feature - WhatsApp users are getting a long-requested feature: access to the same account across multiple cellphones. The Meta-owned app said Tuesday that you can pair additional phones, so no more losing access to your WhatsApp when you pick up your corporate phone. This comes after the service introduced account-pairing on desktop and smart displays in 2021. Phone pairing will roll out globally in the next few weeks, WhatsApp said in a blog post, along with WhatsApp Business accounts that let associates on different devices respond to customers using the same account.
PetaPixel - BeReal Owns Your Photos for '30 Years' - A cybersecurity software company claims that photo-sharing app BeReal owns the rights to users’ photos for “30 years.” After combing through the app’s terms of service, Avast claims that by using the service people grant BeReal “30 years in which they can reuse user photos in any form.”
Gizmodo - ChatGPT Is Coming To Slack - The AI fixation has now come for one of the world’s most prolific inter-office communications programs. The Salesforce-owned Slack will soon allow your already particularly robotic-sounding coworkers to use ChatGPT to draft replies and comments…Slack users can also access the in-built ChatGPT app to summarize threads or research outside information directly in the app. Clicking on the triple dot icon in a thread and selecting “Summarize thread” or “Draft reply” will show a response that’s only visible to the user. You can then make the reply or summary public for those inside the company channel.
Interesting Engineering - ChatGPT plugins explained: A detailed review of OpenAI's new feature - On March 23, OpenAI announced its plan to roll out plugins or extensions to "help ChatGPT access up-to-date information, run computations, or use third-party services."
The importance of using plugins with ChatGPT cannot be overstated. Plugins can significantly enhance natural language processing capabilities, making it even more effective in its communication with users. For instance, sentiment analysis plugins can help ChatGPT understand the emotions behind a user's text input, making it easier to provide personalized responses. Similarly, entity recognition plugins can help ChatGPT identify specific entities in a user's text input, such as names or locations, to provide more relevant responses.
VentureBeat - Databricks releases Dolly 2.0, the first open, instruction-following LLM for commercial use - Databricks released Dolly 2.0, the next version of the large language model (LLM) with ChatGPT-like human interactivity (aka instruction-following) that the company released just two weeks ago.
The company says Dolly 2.0 is the first open-source, instruction-following LLM fine-tuned on a transparent and freely available dataset that is also open-sourced to use for commercial purposes. That means Dolly 2.0 is available for commercial applications without the need to pay for API access or share data with third parties.
The Verge - Stability AI announces new open-source large language model - Stability AI, the company behind the AI-powered Stable Diffusion image generator, has released a suite of open-source large language models (LLMs) collectively called StableLM. In a post shared on Wednesday, the company announced that its models are now available for developers to use and adapt on GitHub.
Wired - Meet ChatGPT’s Right-Wing Alter Ego - David Rozado, a data scientist based in New Zealand, was one of the first people to draw attention to the issue of political bias in ChatGPT. Several weeks ago, after documenting what he considered liberal-leaning answers from the bot on issues including taxation, gun ownership, and free markets, he created an AI model called RightWingGPT that expresses more conservative viewpoints. It is keen on gun ownership and no fan of taxes.
Search Engine Land - Search the 15.7 million websites in Google’s C4 dataset - Now you can find out whether data from your website helped train large language models that help power Google Bard.
VentureBeat - Hugging Face launches open-source version of ChatGPT in bid to challenge dominance of closed-source models - Hugging Face, which has emerged in the past year as a leading voice for open-source AI development, has launched an open-source alternative to ChatGPT called HuggingChat.
HuggingChat is essentially a user interface that allows people to interact with an open-source chat assistant dubbed Open Assistant, which was organized by LAION, the nonprofit that created the data set that trained Stable Diffusion. HuggingChat will soon allow users the ability to plug in the new chat models, similar to other AI chatbot clients such as Poe.
PetaPixel - Stable Diffusion's New AI Upscaler Can Quadruple the Resolution of an Image - Stability.AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, has announced a new artificial intelligence-powered upscaler that is capable of quadrupling the resolution of an image.
MarkTechPost - Meet Semantra: An Open-Source Multi-Tool For Semantically Searching Documents - A new tool named Semantra has been released, which is an open-source multi-tool for semantic search. Developed by Dylan Freedman, Semantra allows users to search by using concepts or meanings, followed by refining results via tagging and adding or subtracting queries. It is a local search engine enabling users to keep their data safe and secure.
TechRadar - Spotify's Sliding Doors-style 'what if?' AI to suggest new music sounds… scary, honestly - As reported by the bimonthly Massachusetts-based tech publication, MIT Technology Review, a team of researchers at Spotify just built a new kind of machine-learning model which, for the first time, captures the complex math behind counterfactual analysis. And apparently, it can be used to identify the causes of past events – and predict the effects of future ones.
The Verge - Clubhouse is laying off more than half of its workforce - Clubhouse, the app that sparked a wave of audio-only features, is laying off over 50 percent of its employees. The app’s co-founders, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, shared the news in a memo to employees, where they emphasize a need to “reset” the company in a post-covid era.
Ars Technica - On-by-default Edge feature seems to be sending all the URLs you visit to Bing - Microsoft's Edge browser has a relatively recent on-by-default feature that allows you to "follow content creators" in Edge itself. If you follow lots of channels or individual users across multiple websites, the feature promises to create a site-agnostic feed for updates from those creators that you can access in one place, plus a way to save videos and other files to your Collections. To drive more people to use the feature, it's also designed to show you suggestions about creators you could be following.
The problem is that this feature may be sending information about every single site you visit in Edge to Microsoft.
The Verge - Microsoft Designer is being integrated into Edge for AI-generated social content - Microsoft is rolling out a bunch of new features for Microsoft Designer, its AI-powered graphic design tool, to streamline how users design social media posts. The platform will soon be accessible directly through the Edge web browser and has additional AI-powered creative tools to help it compete with rival graphic design services like Canva.
9to5Google - New Google Photos movie editor for Chromebooks rolled out - Google has now rolled out the new Chromebook movie editor in Google Photos for Android to give ChromeOS a iMovie-esque equivalent.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Land - Bing adds Bing Chat answers to search results - Microsoft Bing has added Bing Chat answers in the Bing Search results in place of some of the answer boxes.
Search Engine Roundtable - Google has updated its documented ranking systems page over here to remove four ranking systems from the list, including removing three ranking systems. Google has removed the page experience system from the main list, not adding it to the retired list, and removed mobile-friendly ranking, page speed, and secure sites systems from the retired list. Google Drops Mobile-Friendly, Page Speed, Secure Sites & Page Experience As Retired Ranking Systems
Search Engine Land - Google Bard adds more variety to drafts - Google posted in its updates section that…Google Bard is “adding more variety to drafts.” “When you view other drafts, you’ll now see a wider range of options that are more distinct from each other,” Google wrote. Google said this will provide a “wider range of more distinct drafts can help expand your creative explorations.”
TechCrunch - Twitter alternative T2 readies expansion with launch of invites system - The Twitter alternative T2, founded by Twitter and Google veterans, is ready to expand. Launched into alpha testing earlier this year, T2 will today begin to roll out its first invites to its small community of testers, allowing them to bring their friends to the service, instead of only offering waitlist sign-ups as before.
Wired - Twitter’s $42,000-per-Month API Prices Out Nearly Everyone - Since Twitter launched in 2006, the company has acted as a kind of heartbeat for social media conversation. That’s partly because it’s where media people go to talk about the media, but also because it’s been willing to open up its backend to researchers. Academics have used free access to Twitter’s API, or application programming interface, in order to access data on the kinds of conversations occurring on the platform, which helps them understand what the online world is talking about.
But new charges, included in documentation seen by WIRED, suggest that most organizations that have relied on API access to conduct research will now be priced out of using Twitter.
The Verge - Twitter takes its algorithm “open-source,” as Elon Musk promised - Twitter has released the code that chooses which tweets show up on your timeline to GitHub and has put out a blog post explaining the decision. It breaks down what the algorithm looks at when determining which tweets to feature in the For You timeline and how it ranks and filters them.
TechCrunch - Yelp rolls out AI-powered search updates and the ability to add videos to reviews - Yelp announced that it’s introducing a series of new updates, including an enhanced AI-powered search experience and the ability to add videos to reviews.
Yelp says it can now better understand a user’s search intent and highlight relevant information from reviews in new snippets that appear under each business listing in search results. For example, when you search for “tennis courts” on Yelp, you will now see review highlights about tennis courts under each park or facility listed, such as “there are tennis courts that you need to book in advance.”
Ars Technica - The dumb reason Twitter won’t allow retweeting tweets linking to Substack - Twitter users began noticing that they could not retweet or reply to tweets containing links to the Substack.com domain. This behavior seems to have started less than 48 hours after the popular newsletter platform announced a new product called Notes that will compete directly with Twitter.
TechCrunch - Gowalla returns to see if location-based networking is ready for its mainstream moment - …what is Gowalla? For some, this is part refresher, but a good number of you are probably learning about it for the first time. In essence, the app is a social network that uses a map as its primary interface, allowing you to “check in” to share your location with trusted contacts, and to see the locations where others in your friends list have also checked in. Landmarks and other locations (including branded spots like Chipotle) appear on the map, and you can add your own locations as well. You can add comments on friends’ check-ins, and have conversations right in the app, too. There’s a new mechanism for swiping through recent friend check-ins, and a gamified element via collection of stamps related to your activity. It’s simple, but engrossing and distinctly different from what’s currently available from just about any mobile social competitors.
TechCrunch - WordPress.com owner Automattic acquires an ActivityPub plugin so blogs can join the Fediverse - WordPress.com sites now have an easier way to integrate with the Fediverse, including Mastodon. Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Tumblr and other web publishing tools, is the new owner of the ActivityPub for WordPress plugin and has also recruited its developer to come work for the company, according to Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg.
The newly acquired plugin allows WordPress.org and WordPress.com blog owners to reach readers on federated platforms, like the Twitter rival Mastodon and others. Once installed, readers are able to follow the WordPress blogs on their preferred federated platform, view the blog posts and reply with comments. The replies posted to a federated site like Mastodon then become blog post comments. [Emphasis mine. This is a fascinating twist on the aggregation of blog comments.]
PetaPixel - Adobe Brings Big Updates to Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Frame.io - Premiere Pro now includes text-based editing powered by Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence (AI) to enable faster editing for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Premiere Pro is the only professional editing software to include text-based editing, allowing users to edit videos by copying and pasting text.
Sensei automatically analyzes and transcribes clips, allowing editors, producers, and assistants to copy and paste sentences into any order they want to see them appear on the timeline.
The Verge - Instagram is adding TikTok-like Reels updates for editing and discovery - The biggest change is in the video editing process. Users will now be able to tweak uploaded video clips, audio, stickers, and text overlays all in the same screen instead of having to do it in separate steps. Stills shared by the company show a timeline editing feature similar to what TikTok has, which helps when lining up audio and video clips and makes transitions smoother.
Instagram users will also have a new way to find trending videos. Trends and challenges that are easy to recreate are part of what made TikTok an incubator for viral content, and until now, there wasn’t a quick way to see what was gaining traction on Reels. A new Reels page gathers hashtags and songs that are trending on Instagram, along with how many videos use that particular audio. Users can then save the audio for later or apply it to their own video directly.
engadget - Midjourney ends free trials of its AI image generator due to 'extraordinary' abuse - Midjourney put an end to free use of its AI image generator after people created high-profile deepfakes using the tool. CEO David Holz says on Discord that the company is ending free trials due to "extraordinary demand and trial abuse." New safeguards haven't been "sufficient" to prevent misuse during trial periods, Holz says.