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It's only the middle of January, and we already have a few milestones to mention. First of all, happy belated birthday to Wikipedia, which turned 20 on Jan. 15. 🎉 Meanwhile, Instagram continues to be the top spot for celebrity baby bump pics (right, Bindi Irwin and Mandy Moore?). And Twitter introduced a new account for VP-elect Kamala Harris's other half, @secondgentleman

Phew, that already feels like a lot of social media news. But wait, there's more! Here are today's top stories:
  • WhatsApp delays privacy changes as users jump ship 
  • Instagram shares some do's and don'ts for Reels
  • LinkedIn offers a chance to swipe-up
  • And sea shanties are having a social media moment
This and more in today's e-newsletter. Read on ⬇️
 

 That's Private 

If you log into Apple's App Store, you might notice that two of the top three apps are messaging apps — Signal and Telegram. Signal, which boasts end-to-end encryption, and Telegram both received a crush of new users. In fact, Signal went down under the heavy load. So why the rush to download these apps? A big reason: WhatsApp's privacy policy.
 How it began 
It started earlier this month when the Facebook-owned messaging app informed its users that it would have to accept a new privacy policy by Feb. 8, or lose access to their accounts. WhatsApp's new privacy terms confirm that users can no longer opt out of a change originally introduced in 2016 that allowed it to share phone numbers and analytics data with Facebook. Alarm bells went off for users, who worried that the privacy updates made the service less secure. It didn't help that Elon Musk jumped into the fray with his own push on Signal (Musk is not a fan of Facebook in general). 
 
 WhatsApp tries to clarify 
Ever since the news broke about the privacy update, WhatsApp has been fighting to dispel misinformation about the privacy policy. In a recent blog post, it announced it was delaying the update until May 15 to give users time to review the changes, which it says do not impact personal messages. "The privacy and security of your personal messages and calls do not change. They are protected by end-to-end encryption, and WhatsApp and Facebook cannot read or listen to them." What is changing, it says, is the ability for businesses that use Facebook products to connect with customers, or for users to discover and shop from businesses using Facebook and Instagram.

 
 What this means for you 
Facebook has been very open about its desire to merge all of its properties, and has already started that process with Messenger and Instagram, which now share messaging capabilities. WhatsApp, which was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, is not yet connected to Messenger and Instagram. But who knows if that's coming, and what the privacy implications will be. What we do know is that the co-founders of WhatsApp both left Facebook over privacy concerns, according to the New York Times. Fun fact: WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is the executive chairman of the Signal Foundation, which created the Signal messaging app.
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 ICYMI 
 'Reely Good Reels' 
"Do have a WOW or LOL factor. Do have a fun surprise or twist. Don't use 'dated' references." These are just a few of the many do's and don'ts that Instagram recently shared to help guide users as they create content for Reels. The information — captioned 'Do's and Don'ts for reely good Reels' — was shared on Instagram's @creators account. Reels, a TikTok copycat, is only five months old, so it makes sense that creators might need some help understanding how to optimize them. But honestly, many people just use Reels to host TikTok's, so... On a related note, Business Insider recently reported that a leaked presentation to Creators talked about how often they should be posting for maximum success. I don't want to scoop the article, but based on what I've heard, it refers to using all of Instagram (The Grid, Stories, Reels and IGTV) multiple times a week. 😥
 LinkedIn takes a swipe 
Being able to add swipe-up links is the holy grail on Instagram — and only available to users with 10,000+ followers. Now, it looks like LinkedIn, which only launched its own version of Stories last fall, is jumping in on this feature, according to social media expert Matt Navarra. Navarra recently shared screenshots of LinkedIn's swipe-up option on Stories, which appears as a "See More" prompt. However, the swipe-up feature is only available to: (1) LinkedIn Pages; and (2) "Members who have at least 5,000 connections or followers and the Follow button as the primary action on their profile," according to LinkedIn. So, not much better than Instagram, but I guess it's something to reach for. 
 NEWS-LIKE 
🔴 How Mainstream Social Media Data Collection Compares With Alt-Tech Rivals [PC Mag]

🔴 Snapchat Wants You to Post. They're Willing to Pay Millions [NY Times]

🔴 Facebook is Blocking Events Near the White House Through Inauguration Day [The Verge]

🔴 Yeezy Sues Former Intern For Breaching NDA For Allegedly Sharing Confidential Photos [People.com]

 
 

 RESEARCH SAYS...


"Roughly four-in-ten American adults say they’ve personally experienced harassment online. These numbers are more staggering when we look at adults under 30 – 64% of them say they’ve faced such issues online and 48% say they’ve experienced at least one of the more severe types of harassment."

Pew Research Center
What We Have Learned About Online Harassment in 2020 and How it Has Changed 


 
 HAPPY-LIKE 
 Ahoy to this new trend! 
In case you missed it, sea shanties are having their moment on social media, thanks in large part to a TikTok trend where people overlay their audio onto other people's recordings. So what started with this video by TikTok user Nathan Evans singing a song called "The Wellerman" soon inspired a number of remixes. Several media outlets — from CBC News to The New Yorker — have picked up on this trend. Amanda Petrusich, a staff writer at The New Yorker, offers a few explanations for the popularity of the sea shanty. I like this one best:

"It seems possible that after nearly a year of solitude and collective self-banishment, and of crushing restrictions on travel and adventure, the chantey might be providing a brief glimpse into a different, more exciting way of life, a world of sea air and pirates and grog, of many people singing in unison, of being free to boldly take off for what Melville called the “true places,” the uncorrupted vistas that can’t be located on any map." ⚓️'s aweigh!

 
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