Taming the Wild West of Social Media
As social media platforms competed for mind-share, attention, and revenues things got a bit out of hand. Social Media became the Wild Wild West of the Internet for several years – the big data ranchers gun-slinging for each other and hijacking stagecoaches full of personal info while there was no sheriff in town and the settlers weren’t paying attention.
Well … breaches, unethical data sales, bot accounts, political scrutiny, and the realization that the only folks colluding with overseas interests appear to be Facebook and Twitter themselves as they kept on grabbing cash and users (even fake ones) are resulting in a bit of increased scrutiny.
We’ll see what happens long term, but in the near term the big players are virtue-signaling like crazy and making both much-needed and perfunctory changes. Some of those are good, but all of us “white hat” users who try to follow the rules need to adapt and are feeling some pain.
The Problem With All That “Activity”
My initial sense of it is that Facebook and Twitter are rushing things. They would likely disagree, but in their haste to “do something” and spin a PR-infused haze of perceived virtuous activity, they devised and scheduled changes without really thinking about how the new rules impact the good guys out here in Electric Social Land. It kind of feels like they are trying to appear all touchie-feely concerned while still protecting their access to data and revenue streams.
That’s a tall order. And I have deep compassion for their positions. But they've spun, coded, and implemented without really thinking enough about all of us practitioners out here on the prairie. Who knows when this frenzy of pseudo-self-flagellation and butt-covering will end. And who knows if all of that activity will actually do what they say they want it to do. In other words, will these changes limit the spammers, fake account users, and bots? And – perhaps more importantly – will the changes reduce the social giants' blood lust for our personal data and their craven desire to sell our digital souls to every devil that passes by?
I doubt it. Instead, the lobbyists, spin-masters, and politicians are sharpening their knives to carve up their share of the lucre. But enough whining. If you are using social media for business, here’s what you need to know right now.
What’s Happening Now at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
This is a brief summary of the recent changes being made by Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and where we stand in protecting our customer’s social campaigns (hint: a lot of extra work has assured that all campaigns are running just fine).
In mid-March, Twitter updated their APIs and analytics to address spam posts on their platform. It is now against Twitter policy to use automated social media tools to send an identical – or substantially similar – Tweet to more than one Twitter feed. And – importantly – they also prevent identical or substantially similar Tweets from being sent to the same account via automation.
We understand what Twitter is trying to accomplish. But – like all corrective measure of this kind – there is some good and bad that came with the changes, and professionals like us using social management and efficiency tools noticed that certain legitimate social media practices were disrupted (time zone re-posting, content libraries, etc.).
This required a lot of additional work on our part – completely rebuilding Twitter content libraries, changing our processes, and much more. Things like this are a pain, but we also learned a lot. If you are on a monthly social media plan with us, this is part of the service (no additional charge).
Here is a blog post from Twitter describing the majority of their recent changes:
Facebook, and Thus Instagram
Faced with significant pressure to improve privacy and data protection, Facebook is updating and deprecating APIs. Some of those old APIs were – in our semi-technical opinion – old, out of date, and insecure. So, some of these housekeeping changes are desperately needed. But if you are a developer, you know that this can be a real headache because it inevitably breaks things best left unbroken.
We have taken steps to ensure that this does not impact the social content flow or content libraries of our customers. If you are on a monthly plan with us, this is part of the service (no additional charge).
Here is the recent Facebook notification.
This is still a fluid environment ripe for more panic code changes, regulation, and government over-reach. As I write this, he of the “get mine and giggle” – Mark Zuckerberg – is testifying before the US Congress and … well, all I am hearing is a lot of clichéd PR-spinning-words that deftly avoid saying anything meaningful at all. Gee, he sounds just like every other weasely corporate exec caught with his hand in the cookie jar – which is probably the greatest insult possible for a modern elitist tech titan. But I digress.
Looking carefully, I can see drops of greedy drool forming on the mouths of the congressional oversight committee members in charge of technological ignorance. We see governmental action as much a risk to our freedom and privacy as the sticky fingers of social media’s big data rustlers. We will try to keep our sense of humor about it all while keeping our customers and friends updated and their campaigns running effectively when changes occur.
If you are a customer of Art of the Message, please be patient if a few hiccups occur along the way. Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading.