Whisper scandal! E-commerce on steroids! Halloween! It was a spooky week in the world of social media.
October always seems to be a frighteningly exciting month in the digital world and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Plus, it was snowing as I was writing this so it was a perfect day to hunker down and review all the news of the week. I think I’ve captured some of the highlights. If you think I’ve missed something important please let me know and maybe it will turn into a post of its own this week. I’m always looking for story ideas.
Of course, the news was dominated by Halloween and the election last week. I’ve given you a couple of my Halloween favorites and avoided politics altogether — sorry, the election just doesn’t seem like a great fit for Social Social. I much prefer goblins to politicians anyway.
Enough with the introduction! Just one last thing before we get to the news. I love getting feedback about Social Social. If you have suggestions regarding topics, interview subjects or just what you’ve liked or disliked, please leave them here in the comments section, email me, or get me directly on Twitter at @bobbbyg. As I mentioned above, I’m always looking for story ideas, so I promise I’ll read your emails/comments/tweets and consider them seriously. Believe it or not, I can be serious at times. It’s rare, but it does happen.
Now I’ll leave you with the real news from the real journalists …
Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth, Nick Bilton, The New York Times
As I sat in the lobby of a drab office building here, waiting to be led up to the penthouse loft of Tinder, the fast-growing dating app, I noticed that every few minutes young women would walk into the foyer, dressed in flip-flops, T-shirts and tattered jean shorts, and then go through a radical transformation.
Swapping out their rubber sandals for stiletto heels, they smeared on globs of lip gloss and flung on leather jackets. After a 30-second wardrobe change, they were ready for their appointments at a modeling agency on the ground floor. Same people: two very different personas.
A short elevator ride later, as I sat in on a meeting with a group of Tinder executives, it became clear that the quick-change act I had just witnessed downstairs, though unrelated to Tinder, still had a lot to do with what was going on upstairs. What someone wears, along with other visual clues given off in photographs, can tell a thousand different things about them.
And Tinder believes that these clues are the key to online dating.
These Tiny Satellites Could Bring Internet Access To The Entire Planet, Ariel Schwartz, Fast Company Exist
While cell phones are pervasive in developing countries, 4.3 billion people still lack access to the Internet. Some of these people are in rural parts of countries like the U.S. and Canada, where Internet providers don’t offer their services at all; others are in places where Internet access exists, but costs far too much relative to monthly income.
Syed Karim thinks he can bring Internet to the entire world in one fell swoop, with a little help from satellites. Announced earlier this year, Karim’s Outernet initiative plans to blanket the planet in Internet coverage. ‘If we want to get information to everyone, we must bypass traditional pathways. There’s a pathway that already encompasses the whole world: radio waves,’ he said during a recent talk at TEDGlobal.
Now That Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte Will Come to You, Maureen Morrison, Advertising Age
Starbucks will not only allow customers to order and pick up their food and drinks without waiting in line — some people won’t even have to leave their chairs to get their coffee and scone.
Starbucks in December will roll out its new mobile-payment and ordering app in Portland, Ore. that allows customers to walk in a Starbucks store and pick up their order without waiting in line. A national rollout is planned for 2015. Starbucks in the latter half of the year will also begin to make food-and-beverage delivery available in select markets. Delivery will be available to loyalty-program members as part of the new app.
Brands creep in on Twitter on Halloween, Tanya Dua, Digiday
Surely you didn’t think brands would take a pass on Halloween as an opportunity to role out scary tweets.
While some focus on the spirit of the festival, others don’t get tired of shameless product placement that makes us squirm. Here are the good, bad and the downright terrifying ones from this Halloween:
Instagram’s Video Ads Are Finally Live, and Here Are 4 From Major Brands, Garett Sloane, ADWEEK
After six months of testing, Instagram’s video ads are officially here.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has deals to show 15-second autoplay spots from Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic and CW. The ads will start appearing today and roll out over the coming weeks. For instance, Disney is promoting its film, Big Hero 6, with a video showing animated characters posing as if they were taking selfies.
‘We felt like we wanted to step up in a big way for Big Hero 6,’ said Anthy Price, svp of media at Disney. ‘And we’re excited about video.’
Instagram has been unusually hands-on with brands in regards to its static image ads, which launched last year. And the same is true with video. The company reviews all clips to ensure that they contain mostly fresh content, fit the vibe of the platform and are not simply repurposed TV/Web commercials.
Is This the Troll-Proof Social Network of Women’s Dreams? Kat Stoeffel, New York Magazine
Sometimes the internet feels cleanly divided into two parts. There’s the anonymous internet, filled with infinitely replicating 15-year-old boys eager to test boundaries with violent rape jokes — think Gamergate, 4chan, Reddit. Then there’s the not-anonymous internet, which contains your mom, your boss, your ex-boyfriend, your next boyfriend — where you worry about your Google results, and self-censor accordingly. Gone, it seems, is the small, pseudonymous internet — best exemplified for women my age by LiveJournal — where you could express yourself without the surveillance of authority figures, but still forge real connections with other real people and potential future IRL friends.
Without that kind of space, the internet can be a rough place. Last week, a Pew survey found that although men are more likely to be embarrassed or threatened online, women are more likely to experience the sustained online harassment, stalking, and sexual harassment that discourages people from commenting online. One way of dealing with this is to ask Twitter for better ways to block harassers (to make the anonymous internet a little safer) or Facebook for better privacy controls (to make the non-anonymous internet a little less public). But another way is to start your own social network with women in mind.
Honda Haunts Twitter, Gives Out Halloween Candy, Steve Smith, Mobile Marketing Daily
The social media folks at Honda love to goof around in the name of seasonal branding opportunities. This Halloween, the company will give out treats. Followers of @Honda are being encouraged to hashtag scary selfies in their full Halloween regalia to @Honda with #TreatPromo throughout Oct. 31. In return for knocking on the brand’s Twitter house, Honda will send eligible ghouls a coupon for a box of Mike and Ike candy along with a link to one of five scary Vine videos.
This is not all about handing out candy, of course. The campaign features Vines of the Honda CR-V opening to greet trick-or-treaters. The effort will be promoted across Twitter as well as Facebook.
Whisper Suspends Editor-in-Chief, Erik Sass, The Social Graf
Confronted with a scandal about potential privacy breaches, anonymous social messaging platform Whisper is doing what any good organization would for damage control: throwing someone under the bus! Preferably one of those disposable editorial staffers. In this case the sacrificial offering to the bus gods is editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman, who came under fire after disclosing that the app tracks users’ locations, including users who specifically asked not to be tracked, in an interview with The Guardian.
Even more damaging, according to the Guardian report Zimmerman was allegedly offering the information to Guardian journalists to help them in their own editorial coverage. One unnamed executive pointed to the example of a sex-obsessed lobbyist in Washington, D.C. (who had opted into location tracking), memorably noting, ‘He’s a guy that we’ll track for the rest of his life and he’ll have no idea we’ll be watching him.’ Yikes!