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If we've come to expect anything in 2020, it's that it was only a matter a time before the skies turned blood red. But in all seriousness, we are thinking of everyone on the U.S. West Coast dealing with the wildfires, and hope you are staying safe.

In today's e-newsletter we talk about a different type of fire, which is also very serious — the ability of social media companies to bring out the worst in human nature. Meanwhile, it looks like Oracle won the TikTok bid, Instagram tests a new home screen navigation, and Facebook goes back to school. Let's do this ⬇️

 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 must-watch documentary, "The Social Dilemma." The film 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.  
 Ethically speaking... 
The documentary started streaming on Netflix on Sept. 9. And while none of the social media companies have responded directly to the claims in the film, Instagram and parent company Facebook recently issued an update on their equity work. It includes the creation of a new Equity Team, updated company-wide policies on hate and harassment, and prioritizing the removal of content that violates its policy on hate. Instagram also also expanded its sources of verification to include more Black, LGBTQ+ and LatinX media. Meanwhile, TikTok provided an update on its Transparency and Accountability Centers

 FB engineer taps out 
The FB equity update comes as another employee — this time an engineer — resigns over ethical concerns. “I’m quitting because I can no longer stomach contributing to an organization that is profiting off hate in the U.S. and globally,” Ashok Chandwaney wrote in a 1,300-word internal memo, according to the Washington Post. Facebook denied the accusations. And in a recent interview with “Axios on HBO,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that people are angry and that is why they act the way they do on the app. But even an internal study showed that the company helped to polarize views.

 The solution 
This is a lot to take in, but it's not all doom and gloom. The final message in "The Social Dilemma" is that positive change will come. In the meantime, here are some 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
Managing social media is hard enough — staying up-to-date shouldn't be. Level up your social media knowledge in minutes a week. Sign up for our newsletter today!
 ICYMI  
 Oracle reportedly wins TikTok bid 
The future of TikTok’s U.S. operations is getting a bit clearer. Microsoft said in a statement Sunday that TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, "let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft." Oracle had a competing bid, and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company has been selected as a “trusted tech partner.” That’s a bit different than purchasing the company outright. Either way, ByteDance has until Sept. 20 to sell off its U.S. operations, as per President Trump’s executive order. Meanwhile, TikTok has been doing its best to send out messages of positivity, while also trying to pull back the curtain on how it does what it does. Last week, TikTok provided more details about its algorithm
 Instagram tests new nav  
The next time you log into Instagram, you might notice that the options in the bottom of the home screen look a little bit different. That's because Instagram is testing adding Shops and Reels (launched over the last few months) to the navigation. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced the test on Twitter, saying "These changes reflect shifts we’re seeing from people, both in how they use the product but also how they push the culture forward on Instagram: rise of creators, explosion of video, acceleration of online video." Uh, yeah, you created those changes, BTW 🙄.
Instagram tests new home screen for Shop and Reels
 FB goes back to school 
Facebook has never been one to waste an opportunity to grab attention, and this latest feature is aimed directly at U.S. college students (who will largely be online this semester). Facebook Campus is a "college-only space designed to help students connect with fellow classmates over shared interests." (As opposed to other social media?) It's in a dedicated section of the Facebook app, and students who want to access it have to create a campus profile. The new space has its own dedicated News Feed, Directory and Chat Rooms. Students will also be served up Groups and Events. It's currently only available to a select group of colleges in the U.S., but if it proves popular, you just know it's going global (get ready, higher education marketers). BTW, Facebook got its start on college campuses, and we know how that turned out.
 NEWS-LIKE 
🔴 QAnon Has Found an Audience Among Wellness Influencers — and New Users, Says Reporter [CBC News]

🔴 Chinese Embassy Calls for Twitter Inquiry After Porn Clip Like [BBC News]

🔴 Facebook May Be Ordered To Change Data Practices in Europe [New York Times]

🔴 Few Americans are Confident in Tech Companies to Prevent Misuse of Their Platforms in the 2020 Election [Pew Research]

🔴 TikTok's New Boss Takes Over a Very Hot Seat [The Wall Street Journal]
DICTIONARY-LIKE

CamelCase — A naming convention where words are compounded (or joined together), and instead of being separated by spaces are separated by capitalizing the first letter in each new word.

Tip: Using CamelCase in your hashtags makes your social media posts more accessible. For example: #FirstDayOfFall. This helps screen readers distinguish the words from each other. When you only use lowercase letters, hashtags are read as just one long word. 

 
 HAPPY-LIKE  
Ok, this isn't strictly about social media, and technically it is an ad. But we're a huge fan of this commercial and watching Ryan Reynolds show some love to beloved comedian Rick Moranis 🇨🇦. This is just what we need in 2020, and it looks like Ryan Reynolds thinks so too.
Ryan Reynolds and Rick Moranis in ad
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