There’s been a whole lot of ruckus happening this year in the vast, seemingly endless virtual world of social media. I’m not talking about the billions upon trillions of content being circulated throughout the colossal and ever-so-efficient Internet machine (most of it being dog videos and dank memes, like my Facebook feed). I’m talking about the war of which the social media titans fight amongst each other.
The social media supergiants (the big dogs) including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter, have been battling for supremacy for years on end, and 2016 is just one of the many significant chapters for the fast-paced social media industry.
Here’s a quick snapshot of Australia’s usage of social media platforms in 2016 (based on telephone surveys of 800 Australians nationally), from the awesome people at Sensis:
The past few months have seen a buttload of news filled with both good and bad things. So, for your visual enlightenment, I’ve compiled and summarised most of the interesting things that have been happening:
- Fake News: We’ve all heard about the global epidemic of fake news that spiralled out of control as of the 2016 US Presidential Election, and most of us have probably also heard that Facebook’s Trending News section was stripped of human employees and left to be taken care of by artificial intelligence. Well, put them together and you get accusations that some fake news on Facebook’s trending section influenced the election results by circulating false news stories about either side of the election. Mark Zuckerberg denied any political sway it might have caused.
- Facebook VR: As Facebook owns Oculus and their renowned virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift, they’re obviously looking to branch into the virtual reality industry and not only that, but revolutionise it by integrating it with the social aspect that Facebook is so used to. Check out the 7-minute video that Mark Zuckerberg himself stars in, showcasing what Facebook’s plans for VR really are.
- Fundraisers: This year they introduced a Fundraisers tool which allows fundraisers to create a campaign page showing how much is needed, what the cause is for, and includes the ability to donate as well as share the campaign with others on Facebook. They also recently expanded the tool to involve the “donate” button in live videos.
- Facebook Live Video + Audio: Live Video arrived back in April of 2016 and has been a game-changer for most businesses and content creators globally. In 2017, they will be adding a 360-degree option to the Live Video feature — which sounds fricken awesome! Live Audio launched just recently launched in December and can prove to have a lot of potential for a number of different types of users. including:
- Celebrities holding Q&As
- Authors live-reading their book
- Podcasters finding a new channel of distribution
- Radio stations broadcasting their programs
- News anchors broadcasting from disaster zones
- Musicians broadcasting concerts or studio sessions
- Rooms: Facebook have also integrated public chat rooms of up to 200 people or more on certain topics in their Messenger app, hoping to encourage communal conversation and togetherness.
- Group video-calling: In Messenger, users can now video call with multiple people not only on desktop, but on mobile — which is awesome for small businesses and teams on-the-go.
- A Facebook Phone?: Reports from cnet.com suggest that Facebook’s mysterious new division, called Building 8, is working on a mobile phone. Three men who used to work for Project Ara (the modular phone), now work in the so-called Building 8. Even though Mark Zuckerberg has stated that the division is focusing on “augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important areas”, this still doesn’t deny the opportunity for a Facebook phone — obviously nothing like the failed 2013 one.
- Stories: Earlier throughout the year, Instagram introduced their Stories feature allowing users to update their following with pictures and videos that can be viewed in a subsequent order and expire after 24 hours. Well, sounds
similar toexactly like Snapchat’s Story feature…
- Live-Streaming: They also introduced a live-streaming option to the Stories feature. Ok, now they’ve just adopted the same feature from their parent-platform Facebook.
- Stickers: Twitter announced #Stickers back in June. Instagram implements a similar feature in December… What the hell Instagram?!
- Acquisition: In early December, Microsoft ceased speculation by completing a $26.2 billion US ($36.5 billion AUD) deal to acquire LinkedIn. They also revealed plans to integrate LinkedIn with Microsoft Office and Outlook. This can only mean a whole lot more of interesting things to come.
- Snap Inc.: Snapchat created a parent company called Snap Inc. in a similar fashion that Google created Alphabet Inc. Snap Inc. has now considered itself a camera company and holds two child companies — Snapchat and Spectacles.
- Spectacles: Snap Inc. is in the process of unveiling to the world a brand of camera glasses that link straight to your Snapchat. Perfect for influencers and social media moguls, Spectacles film exactly what you see at the click of a button and allow you to post that directly to your Snapchat, providing the opportunity for hands-free filming.
- On-demand geofilters: you can now personalise and purchase your own Snapchat geofilters for whatever the occasion.
- Partnership with Foursquare: The deal to access Foursquare’s location database of over 87 million real-life places came in November.
- IPO: Snap Inc. filed for Initial Public Offering (IPO) in November, valuing somewhere between $20-25 billion US (~$28-35 billion AUD).
- Vine’s repurposing: The popular looping video app Vine was announced to be closed (breaking millions of hearts), but that was all before it was announced to live on through being integrated into the Twitter app, as Vine Camera.
- Harassment issue: Twitter has yet to address worldwide concerns of the platform becoming infamous for online harassment and bullying after Ghostbusters (reboot) star Leslie Jones threatened to quit Twitter if they don’t reform the comments system.
- Go live: Twitter announced live-streaming of popular events on Twitter which, unlike other streaming sites, played alongside a real-time feed of tweets showing anything to do with the events (e.g. @wimbledon or #wimbledon).
- Stickers: Seemingly adopting Snapchat’s idea of putting emojis on a post, Twitter introduced #Stickers, which allows users to put stickers on their photos — some stickers link to locations and hashtags.
- Failed acquisitions: Twitter interested but failed to be acquired by potential suitors, including Alphabet Inc. Salesforce.com, and Disney.
- Layoffs and departures: The company laid off 9% of its global staff after its ninth quarter of declining growth, and its share price has fallen 45% in the past year (reported in October). So far this year, Twitter lost top executives such as CTO Adam Messinger, VP of product Josh McFarland, and COO Adam Bain.
Image credits: Madebyoliver | Flaticons