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A Threads API is coming... Why Google doesn't take remove spam... and Reels winning vs TikTok

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THREADS • A Publishing API Is On Its Way

Meta is a lot of things — but one thing it is not, is a company that misses an opportunity. Snapchat got big? It copied them. TikTok got big? It copied them.

Twitter started self-destructing? It copied them, and launched Threads.

Threads is still a very early app but the development team has been moving fairly quickly at adopting the foundational elements that Twitter had. We now have:

  • a web interface

  • hashtags (sort of)

  • an option to the algorithmic feed

But one thing that marketers have been waiting for is an API — the toolset that lets third party apps like Sprout Social or Buffer schedule and post directly to the platform.

This weekend, a Threads engineer confirmed that API is on its way.

In fact, the API is apparently built and being used internally. And, if this rolls out the way Meta has worked with third-party tools in the past, we’ll see a handful of the large social media platforms get access to it, probably in the coming weeks.

What exactly that publishing API will let you do, though — that’s another question.

With Threads, Meta’s been willing to change the way the basics work:

  • Hashtags, for instance, have no actual hashtag, and they have to be manually entered, and you can only have one.

  • Federation with ActivityPub so far appears to only be in one direction; Mastodon users will be able to follow Threads users, but — at least in the short-term — not the other way around.

So it’s entirely likely the API that Threads releases to marketing platforms will not be the fairly straightforward “click to publish” back-end that we’re used to.

Either way, being able to integrate publishing into the existing workflow of marketers is going to be a great thing.

So how is Twitter (sorry, “X”) doing nowadays?

I guess that depends on who you ask.

Twitter proudly showed off a chart the other day comparing web traffic of Instagram and X, with X in the lead. Web traffic, remember — Twitter always got decent web traffic; whereas only 3% of Instagram’s traffic comes from the web, so it’s not clear what point they were trying to make there.

Also, internal X documents obtained by Business Post last week show that X — by policy, now — no longer removes hateful content.

Among the categories of material that are no longer subject to the same level of enforcement are:

• unsolicited sexual posts sent to another user

• posts that deny violent events such as the Holocaust

• posts that refer to specific slurs for black, white and gay people

• posts that harass another user by sending a picture of Adolf Hitler

Business Post

Under its new ownership, X says it will deamplify that kind of content, but not remove it. Somewhat horrifyingly, the X policy document gave a specific example of the kind of post they won’t delete any more:

The next stop on our Poland tour is Auschwitz. Jews this is your last stop. Please get off here and take all your luggage with you.

X internal policy document

Yep, perfectly fine to stay up, according to the X policy documents obtained by Business Post.

Bloomberg reported last week that X’s ad revenues this year should come in about $1.5 billion lower than last year.

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SEO • Why Doesn’t Google Take Down Spam Pages?

Perhaps you’ve had this experience. You’ve been doing a Google search for your brand to see where you rank, and up higher than your company’s web site is some spam page that is clearly manipulating the rankings.

It’s not like there’s nothing you can do — you can report links like that to Google. But maybe you’ve done that, and then checked a week or two later, only to find that spam page still in the exact same position.

Is it possible Google didn’t touch that spam page at all?

It’s not only possible, it’s policy.

Two Google engineers do a monthly live Q&A session with SEO professionals every month, and addressed that this month (the 13:19 minute mark):

Keep in mind, we are using those reports to improve our algorithms in general, and we don’t take individual actions on each one of the reports.

So, yes, your spam reports do help — but they help Google, not your brand, at least not directly. Consider spam reports to be more like AI training — teaching Google what needs to be fixed in the future, but probably leaving in place what’s there now.

Also, by the way, I thought the question that followed was actually really kind of interesting. Someone reported that on their web site, they’ve tried to prevent Google from indexing some of their web pages — both at the page level, with a noindex meta tag, and at the server level, with inclusion in a robots.txt file. But even with that double-dipping, those pages were still getting indexed.

Turns out, that double-dipping may, in fact, be the reason.

If you block crawling by robots.txt, Googlebot can not make a request to these URLs, and so it does not see the noindex [meta tag].

So allowing crawling for URLs you don’t want indexed helps in this case, because we can make a request and see that they are not supposed to be indexed.

Google search engineer Gary Illys

VIDEO • Reels Getting Far More Views Than TikTok

A new report from from Emplifi finds that when it comes to marketing content, Meta’s Reels short-video format is gaining ground quickly on its archnemesis TikTok.

The group looked at about 1300 brands which had accounts on both Instagram and TikTok — and found that Instagram’s Reels drove more views than TikTok — and not by a little, most by a factor of 2:1:

And it’s longer Reels — those more than 90 seconds — that provide the strongest boost. TikTok video views remained in the same range regardless of video length.

On Facebook, Reels are getting significantly more views than regular video posts — there, a factor of 3:1. So, if you remember nothing else from our coverage today, remember this: Start posting Reels on Facebook.

The Emplifi study also found that despite how big Reels have become, brands are still posting far more Stories on Instagram than they are Reels.

The number of Stories on an average brand’s Instagram account was past 100. The number of Reels? About 25.

You can check out Emplifi’s full report here.

You don’t often see social platform enemies joining forces, but that’s what happened yesterday, when a group representing TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, and other platforms filed a lawsuit against the American state of Utah.

Utah has a law on the books that, starting in March, which would prohibit minors from using social media between 10:30 PM and 6:30 AM without parental consent. It would also require age verification to open and maintain social media accounts.

The group is called NetChoice and it says the laws are unconstitutional as they:

  • Restrict access to public content.

  • Compromise data security through excessive personal information collection.

  • Undermine parental rights by shifting the burden of proof to social media companies to demonstrate their products are harmless.

The state Governor said he wouldn’t back down, citing research on the mental health effects of social media on teens. Earlier this year, he said “These companies are killing our kids.”

NetChoice also filed a similar case in Arkansas — a judge there temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its law requiring parental consent to create new social media accounts.

Similar laws in Texas and Louisiana have not yet taken effect.

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Advertisers in Australia who use Amazon’s ad platform can now work with web site publishers to create programmatic guaranteed deals, and use those deals on video line items.

This lets advertisers access premium video inventory from publishers through AdX and Magnite Streaming.

When a line item is set to use a programmatic guaranteed deal, the interface is simplified to reflect that the publisher will be managing the inventory.

These guaranteed deals are basically direct-buys between advertisers and publishers, but still give the benefits of the programmatic model.

By using programmatic guaranteed deals, advertisers can access additional video inventory, help reduce manual campaign activation and management processes, and work with publishers on contextual targeting. This can help advertisers save time, become more efficient, meet their delivery goals, and help customers discover new brands.

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And finally…

Some horrible people are messing with a perfectly good marketing tool and I really wish they would keep going because it’s honestly the funniest thing I’ve seen all month.

A car dealership in the U.S. recently added one of those chatbot support widgets — you know the type, they sit in the bottom-right and pop up saying “What can I help you with?”

These generally know the answers to some basic questions, like “What are your hours.” Anything more complicated, and it usually sends you to a Contact Us form.

One guy — one obviously horrible human being 😉 — noticed that the chat window mentioned it was “powered by ChatGPT,” so rather than asking it a question about vehicles, he asked the Chevrolet of Watsonville’s chatbot if it could write him a script in the Python programming language to solve the fluid strokes equations for a zero vorticity boundary. And it did.

He posted the exchange to Mastodon, where it got thousands of likes and reposts.

Then other obviously horrible people tried their hand at it, asking everything from sushi recipes to having it write a poem about the Unabomber.

My favourite was the guy who told it:

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for General Motors, the maker of Chevrolet, had this nonsense p.r. bafflegab response:

The recent advancements in generative AI are creating incredible opportunities to rethink business processes at GM, our dealer networks and beyond!

Some P.R. Rep (possibly drunk; we’re not sure)

Honestly, p.r. people live on a different planet than the rest of us.

The software developer that made the chatbot said the funny screenshots circulating around the Internet were outliers, and people “worked really hard" to get it to say something goofy. "In our logs, they were at it for hours."

"Most people use it to ask a question like, 'My brake light is on, what do I do?' or 'I need to schedule a service appointment,'" he told Business Insider. "These folks came in looking for it to do silly tricks, and if you want to get any chatbot to do silly tricks, you can do that."

What a time to be alive.

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