ICYMI: September Social Media Recap

Welcome to the September social media recap! Here are some of the top social media stories from last month:

  • TikTok narrowly avoids a ban on new app downloads in the U.S.
  • LinkedIn jumps on the vertical-video trend 
  • Netflix releases a documentary about the evils of social media (and Facebook isn’t too happy)

There was also some happy news, like this 11-year-old from Nigeria, who earned a scholarship after a video of him dancing in the rainy streets of Lagos went viral. We can’t forget “Certified Young Person” Paul Rudd delivering this important video message about wearing masks. And then there was this Instagram post from Lizzo featuring her historic Vogue cover. 🔥

But let’s get to the news…

LOOKING BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2020 

In the Tik of Time

September was a touch-and-go month for short-video app TikTok as it fought an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump banning the app. And just hours before a Sept. 27th ban on new downloads of the app was set to take effect, a U.S. judge issued an injunction giving TikTok time to solidify a deal with Oracle and Walmart.

The deal, if approved, would see Oracle act as a “trusted tech partner” to TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance. Oracle would be “responsible for fully securing our users’ data,” according to a TikTok statement. Under the deal, Oracle and Walmart would hold a cumulative 20 per-cent stake in the company, TikTok would become TikTok Global, and the company would be headquartered in the U.S., likely Texas, according to the NY Times.

This deal comes after months of back-and-forth between ByteDance and the U.S. administration, which accuses TikTok of putting U.S. users’ information at risk. TikTok has always vehemently denied any risk, and launched a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the executive orders enforcing a ban. Surprisingly, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri is taking TikTok’s side. He criticized the U.S. ban, tweeting “it would be bad for Instagram, Facebook, and the internet more broadly.” (Perhaps someone should tell Zuckerberg?)

While Trump has given his thumbs up, the TikTok/Oracle/Walmart deal, it still has to be approved by the Chinese government. It also has to receive official U.S. approval (and TikTok could still be banned by Nov. 12 if the deal doesn’t go through). But in the meantime, interim CEO Vanessa Pappas says TikTok is here to stay.

TikTok response

LinkedIn launches Stories

It might be time to add “Professional Storyteller” to your resumé. Microsoft-owned LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Stories in Canada and the U.S. in September following months of testing. When you open the LinkedIn app on your phone, you’ll see Stories at the top (similar to the layout on Instagram). You should also see a video introducing the new feature. It’s actually pretty straightforward: Create a photo or video in the app, or upload a video of up to 20 seconds. Add any related @Mentions + text and stickers, and then post.

LinkedIn has been very careful to brand these as “Professional Stories” — but this type of post generally tends to lean more towards the informal. So, obviously, we can’t wait to see your dog videos in the near future 🐶. But seriously, some of the ways you might want to consider using LinkedIn Stories is to share tips, advice, and successes. And like any new feature that doesn’t immediately have a lot of early adopters, your Stories will likely get pushed to more people than a regular post, which equals more engagement.

LinkedIn Stories is just one part of an overall redesign that the company says aims “to make your LinkedIn experience easy, inclusive, enjoyable, and most importantly to put the community front and center.” It includes:

  • New search functionality
  • An “Open to Work” photo frame to let recruiters know you’re interested
  • The ability to start a video call for Microsoft Teams, Zoom and BlueJeans from a message thread

Our social dilemma

Civil war. The end of democracy. Increasing levels of addiction and mental illness. If we don’t force social media companies to change how they do what they do, this is where we’re headed. That’s according to social media experts, as well as former social media executives and developers, interviewed in the new Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” The doc suggests that while social media was never created to do harm, the way it operates now is negatively impacting our lives.

Not only do the apps have baked-in addictive qualities that make it almost impossible to put our phones down, but the algorithms are smart enough to predict our actions, and impact what we think, say and do. They facilitate the rapid spread of misinformation, while also devaluing us as people. And they are driven by a profit motive that will create a dystopian future if we don’t regulate this industry, say the experts.  

The documentary started streaming on Netflix on Sept. 9. Facebook issued a rebuttal to the doc on Friday with a website post called: What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong. It then directly answers seven allegations in the film, addressing allegations around addiction, misinformation,  polarization, and much more.

In the meantime, the experts in the documentary shared some of these tips for personal use of social media:

  • Turn off notifications
  • Before sharing content, check the source of info 
  • For kids, limit the use of social media, especially at night, and ideally wait until they are in high school to introduce it
  • And, of course, there is always the option to just unplug from the Matrix completely

ICYMI

And the award for viral social media sensation goes to… 

Sir David Attenborough In September, he beat Jennifer Aniston by 32 minutes when he broke a Guinness World Record for fastest time to reach one million Instagram followers (in just 4 hours and 44 minutes). 

Screenshot of Sir David Attenborough's Instagram Profile