September 12, 2018 · 8:00 pm

The Major Social Media Updates in August That You Need to Know About

Take a look at the most noteworthy updates to social media in August.

By Kelly Johnson

This past August, three major social media networks released updates and posted announcements about their platforms to improve the user experience and increase transparency. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Instagram Wants You to Know Who You’re Following

In the last half of the month, Instagram introduced a new feature called “About This Account” to the platform.

About This Account allows users to view information about profiles with large audiences. Here’s how it works: A user who is following an Instagram account with a large community, like 500,000 followers, can tap the ellipses in the top right-hand corner of a profile and they’ll see the typical menu selection.

At the top of that menu is “About This Account.” The information here will show the date joined, the country where the account is based, any ads currently running on Instagram and former usernames.

The goal of About this Account is to increase transparency into accounts with large communities and ensure that the profile is an “authentic presence of a notable public figure, celebrity, global brand or entity.

This is currently in Beta but will roll out to all users soon.

Additionally, Instagram also rolled out a new feature that lets you know when your friends are active in the app.

You may have noticed that when you’re using Instagram, you’ll see a green dot next to your friends’ usernames with the text “Active Now.”

This also works when you’re in the DM portion of Instagram. Now you can know which friends are online and engage in more real-time conversations.

Twitter Takes Issue With Ads

Twitter announced in late August that they’ll increase transparency for ads shown on the platform.

The micro-blogging network released its US-specific Issue Ads Policy and certification process that will give users more information about “individuals or organizations promoting issue ads.”

Issue ads include advertisements that are about or refer to an election or political candidate, or to national legislative issues.

According to Twitter: “Examples of legislative issues of national importance include topics such as abortion, civil rights, climate change, guns, healthcare, immigration, national security, social security, taxes, and trade. These are the top-level issues we are considering under this policy, and we expect this list to evolve over time.”

Only news organizations are exempt from this policy. However, if you or your organization wants to run an issue add, you’ll have to be certified. Twitter created a certification process that verifies an advertiser which requires that interested parties fill out an application.

Moving forward, users will be able to see who paid for ads. The name of the organization or advertiser, as well as the issue being promoted, will appear at the top of the tweet.

Facebook Boots Bad Actors

After launching an investigation in July into accounts that could be suspect, Facebook purged nearly 700 accounts that were deemed bad actors. Here’s their statement about their findings:

“Today we removed multiple Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia. These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them. However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.

“We ban this kind of behavior because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. And while we’re making progress rooting out this abuse, as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well funded. We constantly have to improve to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies. Their collaboration was critical to our investigation since no one company can fight this on their own.”

According to the Facebook, their investigation found that many of the accounts were linked to “Liberty Front Press” — which was determined to be connected to Iranian state-run media — and many of the posts from this “media” agency were political in nature and referenced the U.S., U.K. and Middle East.

Liberty Front Press media not only published content but also ran ads on Facebook.

Facebook is continuing to investigate and remove bad actors like this group and is working “closely with U.S. law enforcement.”

Check Sensai’s blog for more news about social media platform updates, social media best practices and more.