Fact-Checking the "Facebook is Dying" Myth

Also: Bluesky is open to all... Google might disconnect your Search Console... and get ready for more fake "congrats" LinkedIn messages

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Fact-Checking the "Facebook is Dying" Myth

Also: Bluesky is open to all... Google might disconnect your Search Console... and get ready for more fake "congrats" LinkedIn messages

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Bluesky • Open for Business As Of Today

There are a lot of upstart platforms vying for the spot once held by Twitter: Mastodon, Threads, Spoutible… but one fairly high-profile platform was started at Twitter itself: Bluesky.

Bluesky was a kind of experimental project within Twitter — a kind of testing ground to see if they could build a different foundation for a microblogging network… a more decentralized one.

Once Twitter began to unravel and Bluesky was kicked out on its own, a new team there really ramped up development, and rather than being a complementary experiment to its parent, would go head-to-head to compete against it.

At first, Bluesky was hard to get into. It was in closed beta, and you had to track down someone who was already in and had invite codes. Even U.S. President Joe Biden for the longest time couldn’t get a code.

But that changes today, with the site leaving its beta status behind and opening the doors to anyone who wants an account.

It will be familiar to anyone who’s used Twitter, but with a few key differences:

1) You can choose your own algorithm — there’s a kind of free “store” of them. Just want to see posts from accounts you follow, but not their replies to anyone? Done. Want to only see posts in your feed that have 30 retweets? Done.

A screengrab of Bluesky's customizable feeds. 

2) You can also fine-tune the content moderation to your own preferences. You might be okay with seeing nudity, but don’t want to see anything violent. You can set that.

One big downside, though, is it’s chosen to go its own way with its networking protocol. While it is more decentralized that Twitter — which is, one giant server — the developers chose not to adopt ActivityPub, the network which has the most traction. Mastodon works on ActivityPub, Threads will soon, and there’s a whole bunch of other sites, like Reddit clones that work on that protocol.

Bluesky instead is developing its own protocol that no other social platforms are using.

Anyway, all that to say it’s open today if you want to check it out or place a stake down for your brand. It’s at https://bsky.social

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Microsoft Ads • Better Conversions and In-Markets

This week, Microsoft is rolling out Enhanced conversions in beta for advertisers in Americas and Europe, and will be rolling out to all markets in the coming weeks.

Enhanced conversions let you supplement existing conversion measurements by using customer first-party data, like email and phone number. This lets you:

  • Improve the accuracy of your conversion measurement

  • Track cross-device conversions, since this enables conversion attribution across multiple devices, providing a wider view of your customer journeys.

To get started, you’ll need to have online or offline conversion tracking setup and ready to receive conversions.

  • If you’re using online conversions, you’ll need to follow UI instructions to copy and paste a code snippet into their website, similar to instrumenting the UET tag snippet.

  • If you’re using offline conversions, you’ll need to follow the help page instructions to format and hash the user 1P data before uploading it onto the UI.

New targeting capabilities

There are also some new targeting options.

In US/CA, in-market audiences for company size and job titles are now available. This data comes from LinkedIn, which Microsoft owns.

In-market audiences are pre-set buckets of people that the ad platform believes are in the market for a specific product, like travel or a car.

These new options are available anywhere you can use In-market audiences today, which includes display, native, and connected TV.

Simpler campaign setup

They’ve simplified the campaign setup workflow a bit.

You can switch back to the old campaign creation view if you’d prefer, but you’ll get one of those “Please tell us why you hate our new process” forms, and most likely that option to revert to the old UI will go away soon.

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Domains • Google Search Console Disconnections

Google is fond of killing things. And yes, I’m still bitter that they shut down their RSS reader more than a decade ago.

They used to have a really good Domains manager where you could change your domain settings, update the nameservers, keep track of domain renewals, and all that.

They sold that business to Squarespace last year, and now anyone who had their domains hosted with Google will find that they’re now managed by Squarespace.

We’re also learning this week that you might be losing something else — Search Console verification.

Some people are getting emails saying they’re about to lose access to the tool.

I guess since Google won’t have those domains as tightly connected as they did before, some of these things which were helpfully automated are going to disconnect.

Apparently the fix is to use the DNS token verification method to authenticate your domain, which should reconnect things.

And to answer your next question, Google says no, this shuffling of deck chairs will not have any affect on your SEO.

LinkedIn • Get Ready for More Fake “Congrats”

LinkedIn is rolling out a new way for people to send you well-meaning but fully AI-generated congratulatory messages.

It’ll be in a new section of their app called “Catch Up” — the idea being that you’re catching up with your connections’ events, like when they finish a course, or get a new job, or — and this is true, if dystopian — just maintain their job for another year.

You can then send them an automatically generated message like “Congrats on your 3-year work anniversary.” You can also Like that catch-up message or start a DM thread from there.

To leave space in the app, they’re moving your connection requests, newsletter invitations, and recommended people to a new tab called “Grow.”

They are also releasing a GenAI tool that will write one of those “Hey, we’re not connected, but I see your business also has the letter G in it, and so we should be besties.”

Actually, it’s worse than that. The example they showed read: “I’m very interested in Microsoft’s mission to empower individuals and organizations to achieve more, as described in your company description.”

You can edit it if you want, though in my experience being on the receiving end these kinds of emails, the type of person who’d use this tech is either too lazy or sending too many messages to bother editing them.

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AI • Meta Will Start Labelling GenAI Images

This morning, Meta announced it will start labeling AI-generated images from tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. This comes after they started labelling content generated by their own tools.

The label looks like a little stamp that reads “Imagined With AI.”

Coming during a US election year that is expected to be contentious, Meta's decision is part of a larger effort within the tech industry to establish standards for labeling content created using generative AI models, which are capable of producing fake but realistic audio, images, and video from written prompts.

They can do this because there’s a few industry standards being adopted which place invisible watermarks on the images, that only special software can detect. The major players, like Google, OpenAI, Microsoft, Adobe, Midjourney, and Shutterstock are in various stages of using this tech.

This does mean it’ll be harder for the tech to identify and label images that come from nefarious tools, like those which generate porn.

And it does only cover images, and most people worried about election interference are worried about fake audio and video. Meta says they’re working on tools that will identify those as well.

regardless of the type of content, if you upload it to a Meta-owned property, the platform says you must label it yourself, or face penalties. What penalties? They haven’t said.

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Facebook • User Numbers Keep Climbing

Facebook, as you know, has been slowly losing users quarter after quarter.

But wait — do you know that? Or does it just seem that way?

Because as we mark the 20th anniversary of the site, its most recently released numbers show that actually the user base keeps growing, now counting more than 3 billion monthly active users.

To put that in perspective, the population of the entire world is around 8 billion, and with 1.4 billion people in China, where Meta’s apps are not available, and around 25% of the global population aged under 15 (you have to be 13 years old to sign up for Facebook), that suggests that the majority of people who can access Facebook actually do, on a regular basis.

What’s more, Facebook’s usage over time is actually increasing, in terms of the amount of monthly active users who log in daily.

What’s behind the increase in time spent on platform? Meta’s own numbers suggest its AI-generated content recommendations are actually working.

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