Apple's new iMessage store opens access to brands

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights.

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Facebook and Twitter join fight against fake news

Facebook and Twitter are joining forces with a network of more than 30 news and technology companies to tackle the problem of fake news, to improve the quality of information on social media. First Draft Coalition was formed in June 2015 and has now announced plans to introduce a voluntary code of practice, as well as establishing a platform where members can verify disputable news stories and promote news literacy among social media users. The managing director of the coalition Jenni Sargent said the platform will be launched at the end of October. She revealed that First Draft already works closely with Twitter and Facebook and so feels ‘uniquely positioned to coordinate efforts to facilitate real progress in tackling some of the key challenges facing journalists and their audiences’.

Channel 4 News, New York Times, the Telegraph, Washington Post and BuzzFeed have also signed up to the Google-backed initiative. Facebook’s journalism partnership manager Aine Kerr said the new platform will help it better support reporters who use the social network to find and distribute news more effectively. She revealed Facebook will showcase the tools, products and services it has created for journalists and will use the partner network to ‘ensure we are constantly learning about how to improve them based on feedback from newsrooms’.

As the world’s largest social network, Facebook has made a number of moves to curb misinformation on its platform. Last month it increased the use of automaton to choose the most-talked about ‘trending’ topics, as a way to diminish human bias. Twitter, which has established itself as a key medium for breaking news, moved quickly to remove posts from extremists following the Nice terror attack, receiving rare praise from a number of watchdog groups.

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IPC partners with Snapchat for first global Paralympic Live Story

Snapchat has continued its Rio 2016 coverage by making a partnership with the International Paralympic

Committee (IPC) for the world’s first global Paralympic Live Story .The compilation of Snaps submitted by fans, athletes and behind-the-scenes reporters will be curated by the social network into a short video and will feature footage from a series of sporting events to be showcased to millions of Snapchatters around the globe. Users will be able to contribute their own unique perspective of the event by contributing to the Live Story. IPC director of communications Craig Spence revealed the tie-up provides a ‘fantastic opportunity to reach new audiences with content that was previously not available for fans’. He continued: ‘We will allow them to be part of history and gain an insight into the lives of Paralympic athletes’.

The IPC offered the Snapchat team exclusive access to sporting events on 15 September, including athletics, road cycling and canoeing, which makes its Paralympic debut, giving fans the chance to be part of a moment in history. Snapchat’s director of partnerships Ben Schwerin said Live Stories will ‘capture what it feels like to experience the Games – from the triumphant win of athletes to the atmosphere in the crowd’.

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Nextdoor launches in the UK

A US social network which aims to bring neighbours closer together has expanded into the UK, as part of its push into Western Europe. Nextdoor aims to encourage social interaction between neighbours, for example sharing information on local services, as well as helping them to track crime in their area. The San-Francisco-based start-up’s CEO Nirav Tolia said the app is focusing on establishing accurate boundaries as it tries to sign up users. So far it has been piloted in 500 neighbourhoods across the UK and has already mapped out around 45% of the areas. However, Tolia noted that as the UK has 30,000 neighbourhoods, Nextdoor still has a lot more work to do. The US company started expanding internationally this year after establishing a presence in 90% of neighbourhoods in the top 10 US cities.

It launched into its first international market this February in the Netherlands, and if all goes well in the UK, hopes to further expand in 2017 and 2018. As the app is based on local area knowledge, Nextdoor has to first send people to the local region to understand its customs and cultures, meaning expansion is slower than just rolling-out a new language. After joining the platform users can upload their address details to connect with people living in their neighbourhood, and see updates and posts from these users

Tolia revealed that Brexit played a part in the decision to launch in the UK, believing the app will help people ‘weather the storm’. ‘Every neighbour, in every neighbourhood, would benefit from a platform that makes it easier to connect and communicate with people who live right next door’, the CEO said in a statement. The start-up is giving away free street parties to 30 neighbourhoods to celebrate its UK launch this weekend.

Twitter set to allow longer Tweets

Twitter is set to implement a major change to the way that tweets work. Beginning September 19th, Twitter will redefine exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit - with media attachments like still images and videos, along with polls and quoted tweets no longer being included in the count. This will yield users extra room for their text messages. Usernames placed at the beginning of replies will also no longer count towards the limit. The plans were first outlined in May, and now sources familiar with the social network’s business have pinpointed the date for a rollout. Twitter has only just introduced new features to its direct messages (DMs), including read receipts and live typing indicators, bringing the platform one step closer to rival messaging apps,such as iMessage from Apple and Facebook Messenger.

The company had previously considered dramatically extending the maximum length of tweets but Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was committed to the ‘beautiful constraint’ of the 140 limit. This new approach stays true to that concise feeling, while adding more convenience. ’

Apple's new iMessage store opens access to brands

Apple’s rollout of its iOS 10 update comes with a shot across Facebook’s bow as it opens a dedicated app store for messaging service iMessage. Apple may not have chatbots, as yet, but the iMessage store does have virtual stickers and new animated features which brands are taking advantage of. Disney, Burger King, Mario Bros., Toyota and Betty Boop are all launching their own branded stickers on Apple iMessage. The move means Apple is setting its sights on a messaging space which attracts at least 1.4 billion monthly users collectively worldwide. In the U.S. alone, half of all mobile phone users will be using mobile messaging by the end of 2016. Increasingly, brands are looking to apps like WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat and Line as opportunities to engage with their audiences on a one-on-one level.

Apple demonstrated the new store’s features at its WWDC developer conference in June, showing how you could create sticker packs for iMessage without having to code. Burger King is offering stickers representing different flavours of its chicken fries. Disney’s stickers were used to demonstrate how brands can easily make their own. And Toyota is extending its football-themed emoji app called FanMojis to iMessage.“The path to clear monetization will be a key factor in brands wanting to engage with it,” commented an agency account manager. “The cultural acceptance is there, the audience is there and the engagement is there. Brands just need to avoid pushing their brand message into the mix.”

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