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The Latest Social News for Winter 2018

People love a bit of drama don’t they? They love it even more when it’s real life – a true story which is barely believable but fits into their views; or massively opposing their views. Even if the true story isn’t true. But hey, let’s not let that stop us from showing we were right all along.

I say ‘we’, but I don’t actually mean me or you – the fact you’re reading this shows you possess a fair dollop of social savvy, and are hopefully able to filter out the bizarre truth from the blatant lie, like 90% of the world’s population.

The thing is, and it’s a huge shame, some social media users are not as well-informed or as keen to learn more about a story as we are (maybe they should read more social media updates). This means a blatant untruth which slots nicely into someone’s preconceived ideas or even prejudices can escalate like Christmas hype in late November.

We see this on Facebook a lot, an untruth flying around and getting more and more momentum despite attempts from those in the know to point out it’s not true. It’s like the lies about Anchor Butter, clashes at immigration and many others shown to be false. But that didn’t stop those (and many posts like them) being shared around a massive part of the internet. Indeed the imagery in that border patrol story is now 8 years old, but keeps getting reused.

“But, Damien, this is old news” I hear you say, “this is supposed to be an update…? Social ’News’ for Winter 2018?”

And yes you’re right – so the ‘news’ part is that Facebook has said they’ll be clamping down on sensationalist headlines and posts, rather than the excited algorithm getting all excited and excitedly getting millions of anger-philic users excited too. The graphs in this article kinda explain it – basically as a post gets more controversial, the algorithm will begin to hide it away as it suspects it must be a bit controversial, rather than amplifying it.

Will it work? Hopefully, and damaging lies will now get hidden under a rug rather than given the red carpet treatment.

In other news, let’s talk about sexy gifs. And that means Tumblr. Tumblr has announced it will be getting rid of all adult content on its platform with effect from Monday 17th December. It has had issues recently with people uploading illegal ‘adult’ content which might well be aimed at adults, but not necessarily feature adults…

To make sure it never gets accused of enabling child pornography it’s simply getting rid of all ‘adult’ content on there. Including the legal stuff.

They feel this is a necessary step as it’s impossible for the platform to decide what is unlawful and only remove that (very small percentage of) content and leave the legal titillations.

But, with a lot of reports of users saying Tumblr is their ‘go-to’ to secretly find the things that tickle their fancy – all perfectly legal stuff, it’ll be a blow to Tumblr for sure. One report shows that 54% of users are female and enjoy the teasing gifs, and that over half of all users see pornography on there.

Will the site survive if it gets rid of a big chunk of its content? Some people are saying it’s the end of Tumblr, but I don’t think it will hurt it too much. The ‘teasy’ gifs will still be allowed, but not ones actually depicting the act of sex – it’s only anatomically-brazen, in yer face imagery that gets disallowed, essentially making its content similar to Instagram. And that’s doing ok for itself.

Talking of tease – let’s chat about the clickbaitiest of all networks – YouTube. A YouTube thumbnail nowadays seems to have more luminous-fonted barely-believable headlines on it than those bottom-of-the page ads that say stuff like “See how this Wisbech teenager makes $50,000 a week from his bedroom”.


YouTube and others like Reddit, WordPress, Medium etc. are trying to make a big noise about ‘Article 13’, a new EU directive which is set to become law in the near future (which will probably end up being 2021 once all the finer details are decided upon).

I’m not much of a lawyer, which I think is clear from my haphazard writing, but I’ll try to give you a taster of what it means.

Essentially, it’s intended to be a law to protect the copyright of a creator, to stop their work being claimed or used by other people as their own. Which is a good thing – in principle.

The reason YouTube and the other networks are panicking is that their current method of making this happen (software like Content ID) will not be effective enough. Currently, if you upload a video to YouTube the software checks it over automatically. If it appears to have copyrighted content in there it’ll flag it up, and the uploader will need to prove they can use it.

This current system is ok, but relies on the original creator having actively advised Content ID (or equivalent) about their new work. It might be a song, or a gif, video, TV clips etc.

This works ok-ish – but the new Article 13 will mean that the onus is no longer on the uploader to prove themselves and on the creator to tell Content ID etc it created something – and there will be no period of grace where you prove it’s your own work. As soon as something’s uploaded, YouTube (or whichever platform) will be legally liable for showing copyrighted content. So they will simply not allow anything to be uploaded, just in case.

What the networks are doing is getting users (mostly those creating content) to rally around with a hashtag #SaveYourInternet – to put pressure on those wording the Article 13 law to bear in mind that, by trying to protect creators, they will in fact stop them from being able to upload their work.

Here’s a nice little infographic that helped me get my head around a few bits –

So, there you go, if you see #SaveYourInternet banded around on social media you now know what it’s all about.

And, finally, if you see someone moaning about Tumblr ‘not working properly’ on Monday 17th December, you know what that’s about too.