Showing all posts tagged: social networks

Twitter 2.0 is not a start-up much as Elon Musk likes to believe it

25 November 2022

Tegan Jones, writing at Crikey, on Twitter owner Elon Musk’s… vision of the social media service being some sort of start-up, as of the minute he assumed control. Twitter was established in 2006, so we might be a little passed the development phase of the operation by now, no?

So no, Musk isn’t asking more of his remaining employees simply to improve the platform or make up for past financial woes. And it’s certainly not about overcoming the odds to build something together to change the world, which is oftentimes the north star of young start-ups. These employees are being asked, and in some cases coerced due to lack of options, to dedicate their lives to pay off a billionaire’s offensively large debt on a vanity project he didn’t even want. That is not start-up culture.

Despite Musk’s philanthropy, his wealth and privilege has bestowed him with a singular outlook of the world. While it’s unlikely he has much in the way of home duties, or family obligations — at least that’s the impression created — he could easily afford to outsource them anyway. Other Twitter employees are unlikely to be so fortunate. Instead, they’re simply expected to be hard core, and work until all hours of the night. Or be fired. Awesome.

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Seth Godin: Mastodon is a federation not a corporation

21 November 2022

Inconvenient. Difficult. Different. Resilient. Social network Mastodon — viewed by some as a Twitter alternative — as seen by American author, entrepreneur, and master of short-form blogging, Seth Godin:

It’s a network in the real internet sense of the word. It’s not just a network of users, it’s a network of servers as well. No one owns it. Like email, it’s a set of principles and rules, not a place. A federation is different than a corporation. It might not be as shiny, but it’s far more resilient. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get started in ten seconds. This leads to less initial stickiness. It means that the people who get through the learning curve are more likely to be committed and perhaps generous.

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Reports of the death of social media are greatly exaggerated maybe

14 November 2022

Ian Bogost writing for The Atlantic:

It’s over. Facebook is in decline, Twitter in chaos. Mark Zuckerberg’s empire has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in value and laid off 11,000 people, with its ad business in peril and its metaverse fantasy in irons. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has caused advertisers to pull spending and power users to shun the platform (or at least to tweet a lot about doing so). It’s never felt more plausible that the age of social media might end — and soon.

The question is, what do we do next, if we don’t have social media? Go back to meaningful face-to-face interactions? What do content producers, who enjoy self-publishing do? Print a zine? I’m not sure that social media is about to disappear, even if some of the bigger players are having some trouble. Still, Bogost makes some salient points.

As I’ve written before on this subject, people just aren’t meant to talk to one another this much. They shouldn’t have that much to say, they shouldn’t expect to receive such a large audience for that expression, and they shouldn’t suppose a right to comment or rejoinder for every thought or notion either.

People have been over-talking since people could first talk. Ditto expecting a large audience for their rants. Social media only amplified the voice of these over-talkers. On the upside, anyone we don’t want to listen to can easily be ignored, blocked. Try doing that to an over-talker you don’t want to listen to at a family gathering.

Social media might not be about to roll over and die, but it is at a turning point. Yet as Twitter’s implosion shows, people are not quite ready to walk away from connecting online. Membership of Twitter alternative, Mastodon, has spiked in recent weeks. Billing itself as a social network, rather than a social media service, it has become a sanctuary for people seeking a place where they can hear themselves think.

Presently there are few brands, and — better still — influencers, and possibly over-talkers, on Mastodon. That some servers, or instances, forbid commercial accounts, helps in this regard. Instances are either owner funded, or member supported, meaning they don’t need advertising revenue to survive. Perhaps this means there’ll be more signal and less noise, but only time will tell.

If social media is about content creation and publishing to the widest possible audience, then social networking is about forging more meaningful connections with those in your network. No doubt some will welcome the demise of certain social media channels, but if the migration to Mastodon is any indication, people are still looking to connect online with others, both known and unknown. Or maybe a whole lot of us simply want to be part of the next (sort of) big thing. Only time will tell.

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Shlee admin of Aus Social Mastodon instance on radio RRR

10 November 2022

Shlee, admin and founder of the Aus.Social instance, of which I am a member, spoke on Melbourne based radio station Triple R, last night.

He was joined on the weekly Byte Into IT segment by Aurynn Shaw, founder of New Zealand based Mastodon instance, Cloud Island. Listen here to their chat with hosts Vanessa Toholka, Warren Davies, and Laura Summers.

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Mastodon clocking up some impressive milestones

8 November 2022

Eugen Rochko, creator of microblogging platform and social network Masterdon, highlights some recent milestones:

Hey, so, we’ve hit 1,028,362 monthly active users across the network today. 1,124 new Mastodon servers since Oct 27, and 489,003 new users. That’s pretty cool.

I think Mastodon is easier to use than it is to understand. What perhaps confuses many would-be Mastodon members is the federated structure of the social network. Whereas Twitter is centralised, Masterdon is a collection of thousands of individual servers, called instances. Each one is owner operated so to speak, and each has their own rules, and terms of use.

New members can pick and chose an instance best suiting their needs. Masthead, for example, caters for people with an interest in the journalism and blogging space. But if that’s not your thing, there’s bound to be one that is. Here’s a tool to help you find an instance you might like. You also have the option to create your own instance, if you want.

I ended up joining Aus.Social as it more of a general interest space, with, obviously, an Australian leaning. That said though anyone, anywhere, is free to join if they want. The federated timeline is also accessible, meaning everything happening across the entire so-called fediverse, is there to be seen and interacted with, making Mastodon more like the classic Twitter experience.

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Why destroy Instagram when Meta could clone TikTok instead?

22 September 2022
TikTok app on smartphone, photo by Antonbe

Image courtesy of Antonbe.

Why is Meta so intent on mutating photo-sharing app Instagram (IG) into their answer to riotously popular video-sharing service TikTok, when that obviously is not the answer?

Instagram and TikTok are fundamentally different, but Meta doesn’t seem to know that.

Why doesn’t Meta opt to reinvent the wheel instead? Why not simply build their own version of TikTok? With the design talent and engineering resources Mata have at their disposal, they could do so instantly. And by leveraging their almost three billion Facebook members, and over one billion IG users, it wouldn’t take long for a clone to achieve critical mass.

But Meta appears to be reluctant to foist another app on users. They are apparently already overloaded with the likes of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and of course, IG. Their only choice then is to butcher IG beyond recognition. Even if the reaction of IG users suggests that’s a bad idea.

How long will it take Meta to see the light here? Build your own standalone video-sharing service app which we can choose, or not choose, to use, and leave IG the way it was.

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Australian consumer watchdog to investigate Instagram

18 August 2022

Instagram’s recent efforts to mimic TikTok have not only angered users, but have also raised the hackles of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, who think the conduct of Instagram owner Meta might be stifling competition:

Australia’s consumer watchdog will examine whether social media behemoth Meta is throttling a potential competitor and entrenching its dominance by aping TikTok’s signature features on its own services, Facebook and Instagram. The next phase of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s long-running digital platform services inquiry will also consider the reverse scenario: whether the emergence of new platforms such as Chinese-owned TikTok and daily post app BeReal is reducing Meta’s power.

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Alternatives to Instagram: what about Flickr?

1 August 2022
Smartphone filming, photo by Pexels

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Has Instagram (IG) jumped the shark? You’d be forgiven for thinking as much, following the stir-up caused by the latest (in a long of line of) changes to the popular Facebook owned photo and video sharing service. Long story short, IG wants to become more like TikTok. Whether their users like it or not. If you’re a content creator, this might be good news. If you’re a user, maybe not so much, especially perhaps if you’ve been using IG since the early days.

The IG of 2011, when I joined, and the IG of 2022, are worlds apart. Checking my IG feed the other week, I couldn’t see a single photo from the people — many of whom I know personally — I follow. Instead the feed was littered with “recommendations”, content IG seems to think I “might like”. But reposted memes? Footage of some influencer I’ve never heard of walking into an elevator? Cats and dogs doing funny things? I wouldn’t mind, if I wanted to see that sort of “content”. Otherwise, no thanks.

After pressing many x buttons, and silencing one recommendation after another, some normality was restored to my IG feed. But to keep up with the people I choose to follow, I often need to go directly to their IG page to see their latest posts. In doing this, I’ve found photos I’d not seen earlier, when previously they’d appeared in the main feed.

But recommendations, intended to “help you discover new and interesting things on Instagram that you may not know exist”, are here to stay, says Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, at Facebook/Meta. Recommendations “help creators reach more people”, and making them part of the IG feed, rather than lurking behind the explore tab, is necessary as IG “needs to evolve because the world is changing quickly.”

Mosseri is correct. The world is changing quickly. Video sharing app TikTok is encroaching on IG’s market share. Quickly, I might add. And this calls for drastic action. The solution appears to be, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Even if that means dragging a whole heap of IG users with no interest in TikTok, into a TikTok-like realm.

Accordingly, more video can be expected to feature in IG feeds, and precedence is now being given to creators, over users who just want to share photos with their friends. Like it or not, more content, in the form of recommendations, and other “interesting things”, you neither know nor care about, are coming your way.

That’s all well and good for the creators. Strictly speaking, I’m a creator. You wouldn’t be reading this if I wasn’t. But if you’re not an IG creator, and not interested in content from people you don’t know, what options do you have? If you’re looking elsewhere for an alternative free-of-cost, ease of use, IG copy, you’ll be disappointed. Even if an IG clone rose to prominence, it would likely follow IG’s path sooner or later. We might find a desert oasis far from the dark shadow IG casts, but not for long, alas.

Smartphone taking photo, by Yuliya Harbachova

Image courtesy of Yuliya Harbachova.

One possibility though may be Flickr, but there are a number of caveats.

Founded in 2004 by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, Flickr shared a trajectory similar to IG, being bought by a much larger company, Yahoo!, about a year after launching. One of the earliest online photo-sharing services, Flickr’s been around so long it pre-dates smartphones (as we know them) and smartphone apps. Like IG, the photos and videos you post to Flickr appear in a feed, which friends and followers can like and comment on. Unlike IG, you only see content from the people you chose to follow.

After early success though, Flickr suffered a near death experience several years ago. They were saved, virtually at the last minute, when California based image sharing company, SmugMug, bought them. Since then Flickr’s fortunes have been on the up. But does that make Flickr right for you?

For one thing, Flickr comes at a cost. While a free, ad supported tier, is available, members can only post two hundred photos or videos. To take advantage of Flickr’s full features, including, among other things, unlimited media uploads, you need a paid membership. A one-year plan costs about US$80. If you buy a two-year membership, the annual cost comes in at about US$72 per year. This works out to about US$1.45 a week, not even the price of a decent cup of coffee.

It’s worth noting the membership fee is not as expensive as it might seem. In a way, paid subscriptions can protect members. Should the company take a direction that upsets subscribers, they risk many leaving, and taking their money with them. Subscription free IG users meanwhile have no such leverage. You’re unlikely then to hear Flickr declaring the world is changing quickly, and they therefore must push tacky memes, and surely scintillating video clips of some self-indulgent influencer, upon you.

In that sense, Flickr is less a social network, and, while everyone is of course welcome, more a community of professional, and semi-serious amateur, photographers. Another difference is the size of the Flickr community compared to Instagram’s. IG is said to boast over a billion users. Short wonder content creators have an interest in the platform, and IG wishes to aggressively promote their work. Flickr, meanwhile, according to Photutorial, presently has 112 million members.

Chances are many people you know won’t be existing Flickr members, so you’d need to get your friends onboard, if you want to escape IG’s clutches. But if you’re looking for a place where you’ll only see content from people you chose, then Flickr might be worth taking a closer look at. Another option to consider is 500px. Like Flickr, it offers a free membership plan, allowing seven photos a week to be uploaded, to a maximum of two-thousand per account.

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