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Facebook to Face Heavy Fines for Allowing Young Users to Sign-Up to Its Platforms Under Proposed Australian Law

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The Australian Government will consider a new bill that would force social media companies to obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16, of face hefty fines if caught.

Which seems largely impossible to enforce effectively, but the draft legislation outlines that social media apps would be required to “take all reasonable steps to determine users’ ages and prioritize children’s interests when collecting data”.

That leaves a lot of wriggle room, as ‘reasonable’ in this context seems fairly broad. But nevertheless, the new enforcement initiative could boost Australia’s social media regulations, and make it one of the most stringent regions for age control in the world, if enacted.

As per Reuters:

“The new law would raise penalties for any breaches of the code, with fines of either 10% of the company’s domestic annual turnover, three times the financial benefit of the breach or A$10 million ($7.5 million). The current maximum fine is A$2.1 million.”

The move comes in the wake of recent reports, based on Facebook’s own research, which show that Instagram can have significant mental health impacts for young users, a finding which various other independent studies have also deduced.

Facebook has refuted such claims, noting that the research referred to was only based on responses from 40 users, and was not be used as a broadly indicative measure. But still, amid the broader narrative that Facebook prioritizes growth, often above all else, it’s not a great look for The Social Network, and it could see more regulatory initiatives like this gain more momentum over the coming months.

Which could have a big impact on how Facebook, and social media platforms more broadly, operate. If social apps are forced to implement more stringent measures, under threat of such heavy fines, each will need to reassess the viability of their apps in these markets, which could even see some removed from certain regions.

To be clear, neither Facebook nor any other platform hasn’t gone this far as yet, but Facebook did deactivate news Pages entirely on its platform earlier in the year, in response to another Australian Government initiative, and if the regulations around what “take all reasonable steps” means in this context actually add more complexity to enforcement efforts than they’re worth, we could, again, see some companies considering the removal certain elements to avoid any risk.

In a broader sense, it’ll also be interesting to see the actual details of the Australian proposal, and how they may be applied in other regions. Governments and regulators around the world are now looking at Facebook, and its impacts, with the latest insights into its effects now available for all to see.

Will that lead to stricter regulation?

I mean, the real question is ‘what’s the alternative?’ It’s one thing to say ‘Facebook’s bad, someone should do something about it’, and another to actually enact effective rules.

Which, again, is why proposals like this are interesting, in that they put Facebook’s policies and processes to the test. And while most of these pushes end up petering out or merging into a less impactful settlement, the momentum does seem to be swaying more heavily against The Social Network in such decisions.

Original Source: socialmediatoday.com

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Twitter Shares New Insights Into Holiday Shopping Trends [Infographic]

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The data shows that people are planning earlier, while fashion-related topics are high on the agenda.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

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TikTok Announces Fundraising Initiatives for Giving Tuesday, $7m in Direct Donations for Mission-Driven Organizations

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TikTok will run a series of live-streams throughout December to highlight various charitable groups and causes.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

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Instagram Launches Live Test of Longer Videos in Stories

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After it was spotted in testing last month, Instagram has now officially launched a live test of 60-second videos in Stories, which will mean that longer video clips will no longer be split into 15-second segments, and played across various Stories frames.

As noted, last month, app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi shared this message, stored in the back-end code of the app, which is now being displayed to some users in the live environment.

We asked Instagram about the update, and it provided this statement:

The ability to create longer Stories posts comes highly requested by our community. We’re excited to be testing 60-second Stories so that people can create and view Stories with fewer interruptions.” 

Instagram says that the option is currently being tested with a small group of users, with a view to providing more creative freedom, and further integrating the app’s various video options to streamline its creative tools and functions.

Which, really, is the key focus. Back in January, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri flagged a coming consolidation of the app’s video products, with a view to better facilitating creation, and scaling back the platform’s various tools. That started with the merging of its video feed posts into a single format early last month, along with the retirement of the IGTV brand.  

As Mosseri explained to Decoder:

“We’re looking about how we can – not just with IGTV, but across all of Instagram – simplify and consolidate ideas, because last year we placed a lot of new bets. I think this year we have to go back to our focus on simplicity and craft.”

The re-thinking of its approach has been largely influenced by TikTok, which has become the most popular social app among young users, overtaking Instagram as the cool place to be.

Part of TikTok’s core appeal is simplicity – on TikTok, you open to a full-screen feed of video clips and live-streams, with all of it combined into one, optimized, focused listing, tailored to each individual user.

Instagram is far more segmented, with Reels in a separate feed, and Stories in its own section. That could be restricting optimal take-up, which is why Instagram’s now looking to bring all of these elements together, which will also, eventually, enable it to showcase the best of each aspect in a single, more-engaging stream.

The expansion to 60-second video clips in Stories is another step in this gradual merging, which, at some stage, will likely see the app open to a full-screen feed of Stories, feed posts and Reels, all in one, enabling IG, like TikTok, to use the full breadth of uploaded content to maximize user engagement.

It’s still a way off that next stage, but longer videos will mean that users can now post full Reels to Stories, for example, essentially merging the two functions automatically. Then it’s just determining how it shifts from the traditional feed to a more Stories/Reels aligned one instead.

That’s a bigger step, and a more fundamental change for the app. But as part of Meta’s broader focus on winning back younger users, you can bet that it’s coming, and likely sooner, rather than later.

Which is why this new test is a significant step. It’s limited for now, but you can expect to see longer Stories videos coming to your Instagram app sometime soon.

Article: socialmediatoday.com

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