Although the end of the decade is near, digital news isn't slowing as it approaches the 2019 finish line. Social media platforms are ramping up as the fourth quarter kicks into gear, and businesses begin to roll out products and services for the year's busiest shopping season. PLANOLY's Social Sphere column is here to pick out the highlights from the clutter. This week the usual players are up to their old tricks. Pinterest is rolling out an updated Pin format, and Twitter is working on letting you follow specific topics. Without further delay, let's dig into the happenings throughout the Social Sphere:
Artificial Intelligence is, as expected, among the most discussed technologies entering the new decade. A fixture in several industries, AI will play a much more significant role in social media in 2020. Facebook is currently working on a new process for its facial recognition system. This initiative will allow users to confirm their identity by uploading a video selfie. The new feature will guide users through body positioning and head angling, which allows Facebook to gather a full record of your likeness. The function may be a slippery slope of sorts because Facebook is currently in the midst of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over past facial recognition practices through Facebook AI Research (FAIR).
Remember Tumblr? They're in the news with the week with the introduction of a new group messaging feature. The update is meant to service a communication need, one that allows users to speak directly with greater ease. This "group chat" function simplifies user dialogue and should eliminate roundabout methods like replying on re-blogs. The "group chats" are public spaces, meaning that anyone can find and read them, though only approved members can send messages.
Like Facebook and its FB News rollout, Twitter is doing amping up its news features. They've taken things a step further by allowing you to focus on only the news - or trends - that matter to you. Following months of testing, Twitter is finally rolling out its Topics option. This feature allows users to follow particular topics that will appear in a curated feed. This move by Twitter is primarily meant to boost engagement and generate greater interest in Tweet Discovery.
Shopify's got mail. The Canadian-based e-commerce platform is branching out beyond the traditional parameters with the unveiling of Shopify Email. Labeled by Shopify Director of Product for Marketing Technology Michael Perry as "the first email product designed for e-commerce." This valuable tool will allow brands to place company assets, product descriptions, and more right into their email. Shopify will also allow them to track user behavior. For instance, if the email persuades a shopper to add an item to their cart or purchase an item, those metrics will be available to the brand.
Although the format is subtle, some Pinterest users have seen an update to the Pin format. The most considerable distinction is seen through spacing, providing a cleaner layout that corresponds with the budding Pinterest business profile format debuted last month. In the new future, brands on Pinterest will be able to tinker with images and video in the header section. They can also look forward to a "Shop" tab.
There aren't many success stories bigger than TikTok in 2019. According to a recent report in the New York Times, the Gen-Z cherished platform was downloaded 750 million times in 2019. Compare that to Instagram's 450 million, Youtube's 300 million, and Snapchat's 275 million, it's tangibly clear that TikTok is heading into 2020 with more wins than many of its contemporaries.
2019 might as well have been the year of the data attack. Hackers have been relentless over the past 12 months, making some companies and platforms take cautionary steps. Instagram is working to better secure user data by limited third-party applications. Any application you've authorized to access your Instagram account over the years will be required to undergo this new protection process. This security applies to all apps: editing software, online dating, publications, and other social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter have provided similar tools over the years to limit the access of third-party applications on their platform. Instagram's new security feature will take approximately six months to reach all existing users. The future we imagined decades ago, where flying cars littered the starry skies and personal robotics managed every household chore, hasn't quite come into fruition. Yet, as we are closer to 2020, social media artificial intelligence and digital failsafe security are triggering indicators that we are making significant strides. Stay tuned for another installment of the PLANOLY Social Sphere series next Friday.