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Social Media Platforms That Thrived (or Died) in the Decade Past

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“You are what you share.” These famous words from Charles Leadbeater’s renowned book ‘We Think: The Power Of Mass Creativity’ are extremely apt in today’s times. Your personal and professional resume gain extra weightage, based on the number of followers, and the number of eyeballs your social posts get. The last decade in particular, has seen the evolution of social media in tonnes of growth spurts. It saw TikTok become a household name, and Tinder became the new way for people to find partners. While some social media platforms thrived in this Internet era, some stumbled off the shelf.

The increasingly competitive market space and the ingrained fleeting nature of social media forced some platforms to shut shop as well. The biggest shockers were Orkut, Google+, Yahoo Messenger, and Blackberry Messenger or BBM, as users fondly liked to it. In the face of the competition, these didn’t manage to grab their audience’s attention long enough and were forced to close down. As far as social media is concerned, this was the decade of WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok.

We have compiled a list of big social media networking platforms that debuted in and reigned in the last decade, and a list of platforms that succumbed under pressure. Some of the platforms that died saw significant highs at the beginning, only to be shut down years later. This list is filled with nostalgia, heartache, and is a nagging reminder to a massive life reality check – nothing lasts forever.

Instagram 

Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world right now. The image-sharing app was launched in 2010 by creators Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and was acquired by Facebook in 2012. It enjoys over one billion monthly active users, and has 500 million users who use Instagram Stories every day. The app was also the second most downloaded free app on the App Store in 2018 (2019 stats still not available). Instagram allows users to share photos and videos, lets you follow friends and influencers, and even post 24-hour snippets called Instagram Stories. Currently, Instagram competes with Snapchat and TikTok in the social networking space.

Snapchat 

Snapchat arrived at a time when Facebook and Twitter were already extremely popular, and Instagram was gaining momentum as well. Launched in 2011 by Evan Spiegel, the photo and video sharing app now enjoys 210 million daily active users (as of October 2019). Snapchat played on the idea of disappearing messages, something that wasn’t tapped into before. This feature has since been aped by Facebook in all of its properties – including WhatsApp and Instagram.

Telegram 

Telegram is essentially a WhatsApp alternative, and has grown quite a bit of fan following since its launch in 2013. As of March 2018, the app enjoys 200 million monthly active users, and Telegram gets new features regularly via updates. It competes directly with WhatsApp that has taken the instant messaging world by storm.

TikTok 

Having launched in 2017, TikTok is touted to be the fastest growing social media app out there. It has almost 500 million active users, and was the third most downloaded app in Q1 2019 with 188 million downloads. This is 70 percent growth from Q1 2018. The app looks to fill the void that Vine left, but it offers a lot more. Influencing creators on TikTok are considered celebrities, and it is well on its way to world domination. The latest data from App Annie suggests that TikTok is continuing its explosive growth around the world, with the insights company ranking TikTok just behind Instagram in terms of monthly active users through the third quarter of 2019.

Pinterest 

Founded in 2010, Pinterest offers online discovery of information in the form of images, GIFs, and videos. As of August 2019, the platform has reached 300 million active users. Over time, the platform has attracted over 200 billion Pinterest pins, and over 4 billion Pinterest boards. Interestingly the gender parity is quite large, and 70 percent of Pinterest users are females.

Over time, Pinterest has attracted over 200 billion Pinterest pins

Tinder

Tinder, a unique dating app, was welcomed with open arms. Launched in 2012, it has now become quite popular amongst teenagers. Recent user statistics are not known, but a 2018 report states that over 57 million people use Tinder around the world, out of which 4.1 million Tinder subscribers pay for a premium Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. Furthermore, Tinder is used in 190 countries, and is available in 40 languages.

Quora 

If you’re looking for answers, Quora is possibly the place to go to. From questions like ‘Which is the best way to learn programming?’ to questions like ‘Which is the best country to migrate from India and start a new life?’ – all of these are answered in detailed manner by varied users. This platform was launched in 2010, and is now a pool of some great answers. Quora’s userbase is constantly growing. It grew from 200 million monthly active users in 2017 to 300 million monthly active users in 2018.

quora main Quora

Quora was launched in 2010, and is now a pool of some great answers.

Facebook Messenger 

Facebook Messenger was introduced as a separate app by the social giant in 2011, forcing users to download the app from the app stores if they wished to continue chatting to their Facebook friends. While user base stats of the app are not known, Facebook last year introduced AI bots for businesses to chat with clients easily.

Mastodon 

Mastodon, an open source decentralised social networking platform, is fast gaining popularity. Touted to be an alternative to Twitter, the Mastodon community has grown to over 2.2 million people. Unlike Twitter, where one corporation has full control over the rules and regulations, any user can create their own server of Mastodon and manage it.

Twitch 

Twitch is a live video streaming platform that was launched in 2011 and is prominently used for gameplay streaming. It is particularly famous in the US, and as of 2018, it enjoys 2.2 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users. The platform is owned by Amazon. As of October 2019, Twitch owns 75.6 percent of the streaming market, and YouTube is second with 17.6 percent.

Periscope 

Periscope is also a live streaming app that was launched in 2015 by Twitter. The successor of Meerkat, Periscope has managed to stand its ground in a space where many have faltered. Twitter doesn’t reveal usage stats of Periscope.

Minds 

Minds was launched in 2015, and it essentially runs on the same principle as Mastodon. The open source network rewards its users with tokens for their contribution and engagement. As of March 2018, Minds has over 1.25 million registered users and 105,000 active users.

Helo 

Helo is a newly launched social media app made for the vernacular speaking audience. The app has seen a sharp rise since 2017, and it has 50 million active users in India alone. While traditional social media apps are available in the universal language of English, Helo tries to offer solace to the large vernacular speaking audience. The app supports 13 Indian languages.

ShareChat 

ShareChat follows the same principle as Helo, and taps into the vernacular speaking audience as well. The Indic language-based social network ShareChat app has been growing steadily over the last two years. Launched in 2015, the app is now touted to be India’s largest vernacular social media platform with nearly 60 million users. ShareChat has some big investors like Xiaomi and Twitter, and latest round of funding was led by the latter. The Bengaluru-based chat app startup is today valued at over $600 million.

WhatsApp

Wondering why WhatsApp is at the bottom of this list? Because, it was launched in the latter part of 2009 missing this decade by a few months. While this list is all about the social media platforms that launched and grew in this decade, we couldn’t leave out WhatsApp as its evolution began in this decade, changing the digital social landscape of today. The app became the world’s most popular messaging app in 2015, and as of February 2018, it enjoys more than 1.5 billion users worldwide.

whatsapp main Whatsapp

As of February 2018, WhatsApp enjoys more than 1.5 billion users worldwide.

Google+

Google+ was launched with a lot of promise in 2011, but succumbed to the competition from Facebook and others. The final nail on the coffin was a major security issue that was reportedly discovered, compelling Google to shut down Google+ in April this year. The company also claimed that its social platform wasn’t experiencing enough usage or engagement from its users with most sessions maxing out at 5 seconds.

Orkut 

Orkut was a household name in India in the latter part of the last decade, but the growing popularity of Facebook got users to migrate from Orkut, leaving it no option but to shut down in 2014. Owner Google said that other platforms had outpaced Orkut’s growth, and the website no longer exists. Google then pegged its hope on Google+, but sadly, that platform also fell off the shelf this year.

orkut main Orkut

Orkut was shut down in 2014 by Google
Photo Credit: TheNextWeb

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger also shut shop earlier in May this year, blaming the difficulty of bringing new users to BBM as one of the top reasons. BBM was one of the most loved instant messaging applications of its time, but its popularity dwindled as competing chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger gained momentum.

Vine

In 2016, Twitter announced that it was shutting down Vine, a popular video loop app that offered users the ability to make and share six second videos. The app couldn’t compete with the rising popularity of Instagram, and users who were once considered as Vine celebrities started posting videos on Instagram instead. Instagram can be considered as a big reason why Vine became obsolete.

Yahoo Messenger

If you’re a 90’s kid, there are high chances that you’ve used most of the apps mentioned on this grim list. While these apps don’t exist today, they were once an integral part of our online social life. Yahoo Messenger was once such instant messaging app that died last year. In its prime years, the service was the most used as it was an alternative to emails and SMS messaging. However, with the arrival of smartphones, Facebook, and eventually WhatsApp – Yahoo Messenger lost its steam and users started to switch.

Path 

Initially launched in November 2010, Path social platform served as personal journal of sorts that you could share with your family and friends. This platform gained over a million users once, but eventually died in 2018 due to lack of proper growth and increasing competition.

iTunes Ping 

Apple’s promising iTunes Ping social network failed to gain traction that it had hoped from the users. The music-based social network was launched in 2010, and was shut two years later. It is one of the biggest examples of Apple having difficulty in getting people to use its web-based services.

Meerkat

Meerkat, the once popular live-streaming app, closed in 2016. It was early on the scene by launching a live-streaming service ahead of Twitter and Facebook, but its fame was short-lived.

Yik Yak 

Yik Yak was an anonymous messaging app for college students that shut shop in 2017. The app rode to popularity after its launch in 2014, but soon became a breeding ground for hate speech, cyber bullying, discriminatory speech, and gun and bombing threat, all under the garb of anonymity. The company tried to bring in measures to curb the slur, while also maintaining anonymity, but it then started to lose user base, and had to wind down operations eventually.

Friendster 

Friendster was one of those social networks that helped kick off the social media era. It was founded in 2003, and soon lost credibility due to technology issues. There were problems in feature launches, and it soon drifted into irrelevance as Facebook gained momentum quickly. Interestingly, in the early days, Friendster investors reportedly had approached Facebook with an acquisition deal, which Mark Zuckerberg then refused. Zuckerberg later bought Friendster’s entire portfolio of social networking patents for reportedly $40 million. Friendster closed its doors on 2015.

Friends Reunited

Friends Reunited, another pioneer in the social media industry, announced that it would be winding down in 2016. The platform was launched in 2000, but couldn’t keep up with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In its closing announcement, the company’s founder Steve Pankhurst said, “It is clear that the site is no longer really used for the purpose it was built for … therefore, it is with a heavy heart, that we have decided to close the service down.”

Pheed 

Pheed was launched in 2012, and the social platform let you share texts, photos, and videos, just like the others. It managed to top the App Store charts in the social networking category in just a year after launch. Aimed at teenagers, it failed to gain the long-term momentum it hoped for. Pheed was sold to American Movil in March 2014, and in April 2016, Pheed was shut down and the technology was integrated to América Móvil platforms.

DailyBooth 

DailyBooth was a social network that allowed users to take a picture of them every day, and post it with a caption. The website would in turn generate a little flip book style video for its users. While the concept was intriguing, it never truly broke through to the mainstream, and had to close down in 2012.

Tbh app (Facebook-owned)

Tbh app, another anonymous social app, was launched in 2017, and in just a month it managed to rank number one in the US App Store. It was acquired by Facebook soon after, but its fame was extremely short-lived, as the social giant announced its discontinuation in July 2018 due to low usage.

Eons.com 

Eons.com was yet another social networking site founded in 2006, and this one tried to cater to the baby boomers and users over the age of 40. The site was shut down in 2012, after a business issue with the service provider was not resolved. To this date, the site remains shut.



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Facebook rolls out new tools for Group admins, including automated moderation aids – TechCrunch

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Facebook today introduced a new set of tools aimed at helping Facebook Group administrators get a better handle on their online communities and, potentially, help keep conversations from going off the rails. Among the more interesting new tools is a machine learning-powered feature that alerts admins to potentially unhealthy conversations taking place in their group. Another lets the admin slow down the pace of a heated conversation, by limiting how often group members can post.

Facebook Groups are today are significant reason why people continue to use the social network. Today, there are “tens of millions” of groups, that are managed by over 70 million active admins and moderators worldwide, Facebook says.

The company for years has been working to roll out better tools for these group owners, who often get overwhelmed by the administrative responsibilities that come with running an online community at scale. As a result, many admins give up the job and leave groups to run somewhat unmanaged — thus allowing them to turn into breeding grounds for misinformation, spam and abuse.

Facebook last fall tried to address this problem by rolling out new group policies to crack down on groups without an active admin, among other things. Of course, the company’s preference would be to keep groups running and growing by making them easier to operate.

That’s where today’s new set of features come in.

A new dashboard called Admin Home will centralize admin tools, settings and features in one place, as well as present “pro tips” that suggest other helpful tools tailored to the group’s needs.

Image Credits: Facebook

Another new Admin Assist feature will allow admins to automatically moderate comments in their groups by setting up criteria that can restrict comments and posts more proactively, instead of forcing admins to go back after the fact and delete them, which can be problematic — especially after a discussion has been underway and members are invested in the conversation.

For example, admins can now restrict people from posting if they haven’t had a Facebook account for very long or if they had recently violated the group’s rules. Admins can also automatically decline posts that contain specific promotional content (perhaps MLM links! Hooray!) and then share feedback with the author of the post automatically about why those posts aren’t allowed.

Admins can also take advantage of suggested preset criteria from Facebook to help with limiting spam and managing conflict.

Image Credits: Facebook

One notable update is a new moderation alert type dubbed “conflict alerts.” This feature, currently in testing, will notify admins when a potentially contentious or unhealthy conversation is taking place in the group, Facebook says. This would allow an admin to quickly take an action — like turning off comments, limiting who could comment, removing a post, or however else they would want to approach the situation.

Conflict alerts are powered by machine learning, Facebook explains. Its machine learning model looks at multiple signals, including reply time and comment volume to determine if engagement between users has or might lead to negative interactions, the company says.

This is sort of like an automated expansion on the Keyword Alerts feature many admins already use to look for certain topics that lead to contentious conversations.

Image Credits: Facebook

A related feature, also new, would allow admins to also limit how often specific members could comment, or how often comments could be added to posts admins select.

When enabled, members can leave 1 comment every 5 minutes. The idea here is that forcing users to pause and consider their words amid a heated debate could lead to more civilized conversations. We’ve seen this concept enacted on other social networks, as well — such as with Twitter’s nudges to read articles before retweeting, or those that flag potentially harmful replies, giving you a chance to re-edit your post.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook, however, has largely embraced engagement on its platform, even when it’s not leading to positive interactions or experiences. Though small, this particular feature is an admission that building a healthy online community means sometimes people shouldn’t be able to immediately react and comment with whatever thought first popped into their head.

Additionally, Facebook is testing tools that allow admins to temporarily limit activity from certain group members.

If used, admins will be able to determine how many posts (between 1 and 9 posts) per day a given member may share, and for how long that limit should be in effect for (every 12 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days, or 28 days). Admins will also be able to determine how many comments (between 1 and 30 comments, in 5 comment increments) per hour a given member may share, and for how long that limit should be in effect (also every 12 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days, or 28 days).

Along these same lines of building healthier communities, a new member summary feature will give admins an overview of each member’s activity on their group, allowing them to see how many times they’ve posted and commented, have had posts removed, or have been muted.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook doesn’t say how admins are to use this new tool, but one could imagine admins taking advantage of the detailed summary to do the occasional cleanup of their member base by removing bad actors who continually disrupt discussions. They could also use it to locate and elevate regulator contributors without violations to moderator roles, perhaps.

Admins will also be able to tag their group rules in comment sections, disallow certain post types (e.g. Polls or Events), and submit an appeal to Facebook to re-review decisions related to group violations, if in error.

Image Credits: Facebook

Of particular interest, though a bit buried amid the slew of other news, is the return of Chats, which was previously announced.

Facebook had abruptly removed Chat functionality back in 2019, possibly due to spam, some had speculated. (Facebook said it was product infrastructure.) As before, Chats can have up to 250 people, including active members and those who opted into notifications from the chats. Once this limit is reached, other members will not be able to engage with that specific chat room until existing active participants either leave the chat or opt out of notifications.

Now, Facebook group members can start, find and engage in Chats with others within Facebook Groups instead of using Messenger. Admins and moderators can also have their own chats.

Notably, this change follows on the heels of growth from messaging-based social networks, like IRL, a new unicorn (due to its $1.17B valuation), as well as the growth seen by other messaging apps, like Telegram, Signal and other alternative social networks.

Image Credits: Facebook

Along with this large set of new features, Facebook also made changes to some existing features, based on feedback from admins.

It’s now testing pinned comments and introduced a new “admin announcement” post type that notifies group members of the important news (if notifications are being received for that group).

Plus, admins will be able to share feedback when they decline group members.

Image Credits: Facebook

The changes are rolling out across Facebook Groups globally in the coming weeks.

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Spotify launches its live audio app and Clubhouse rival, Spotify Greenroom – TechCrunch

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In March, Spotify announced it was acquiring the company behind the sports-focused audio app Locker Room to help speed its entry into the live audio market. Today, the company is making good on that deal with the launch of Spotify Greenroom, a new mobile app that allows Spotify users worldwide to join or host live audio rooms, and optionally turn those conversations into podcasts. It’s also announcing a Creator Fund which will help to fuel the new app with more content in the future.

The Spotify Greenroom app itself is based on Locker Room’s existing code. In fact, Spotify tells us, current Locker Room users will see their app update to become the rebranded and redesigned Greenroom experience, starting today.

Where Locker Room had used a white-and-reddish orange color scheme, the new Greenroom app looks very much like an offshoot from Spotify, having adopted the same color palette, font and iconography.

To join the new app, Spotify users will sign in with their current Spotify account information. They’ll then be walked through an onboarding experience designed to connect them with their interests.

Image Credits: Spotify

For the time being, the process of finding audio programs to listen to relies primarily on users joining groups inside the app. That’s much like how Locker Room had operated, where its users would find and follow favorite sports teams. However, Greenroom’s groups are more general interest now, as it’s no longer only tied to sports.

In time, Spotify tells us the plan is for Greenroom to leverage Spotify’s personalization technology to better connect users to content they would want to hear. For example, it could send out notifications to users if a podcaster you already followed on Spotify went live on Spotify Greenroom. Or it could leverage its understanding of what sort of podcasts and music you listen to in order to make targeted recommendations. These are longer-term plans, however.

As for Spotify Greenroom’s feature set, it’s largely on par with other live audio offerings — including those from Clubhouse, Twitter (Spaces) and Facebook (Live Audio Rooms). Speakers in the room appear at the top of the screen as rounded profile icons, while listeners appear below as smaller icons. There are mute options, moderation controls, and the ability to bring listeners on stage during the live audio session. Rooms can host up to 1,000 people, and Spotify expects to scale that number up later on.

Image Credits: Spotify

Listeners can also virtually applaud speakers by giving them “gems” in the app — a feature that came over from Locker Room, too. The number of gems a speaker earned displays next to their profile image during a session. For now, there’s no monetary value associated with the gems, but that seems an obvious next step as Greenroom today offers no form of monetization.

It’s worth noting there are a few key differentiators between Spotify Greenroom and similar live audio apps. For starters, it offers a live text chat feature that the host can turn on or off whenever they choose. Hosts can also request the audio file of their live audio session after it wraps, which they can then edit to turn into a podcast episode.

Perhaps most importantly is that the live audio sessions are being recorded by Spotify itself. The company says this is for moderation purposes. If a user reports something in a Greenroom audio room, Spotify can go back to look into the matter, to determine what sort of actions may need to be taken. This is an area Clubhouse has struggled with, as its users have sometimes encountered toxicity and abuse in the app in real-time, including in troubling areas like racism and misogyny. Recently, Clubhouse said it had to shut down a number of rooms for antisemitism and hate speech, as well.

Spotify says the moderation of Spotify Greenroom will be handled by its existing content moderation team. Of course, how quickly Spotify will be able react to boot users or shut down live audio rooms that are in violation of its Code of Conduct remains to be seen.

While the app launching today is focused on user-generated live audio content, Spotify has larger plans for Greenroom. Later this summer, the company plans to make announcements around programmed content — something it says is a huge priority — alongside the launch of other new features. This will include programming related to music, culture, and entertainment, in addition the to sports content Locker Room was known for.

Image Credits: Spotify

The company also says it will be marketing Spotify Greenroom to artists through its Spotify for Artists channels, in hopes of seeding the app with more music-focused content. And it confirmed that monetization options for creators will come further down the road, too, but isn’t talking about what those may look like in specific detail for the moment.

In addition, Spotify is today announcing the Spotify Creator Fund, which will help audio creators in the U.S. generate revenue for their work. The company, however, declined to share any details on this front, either– like the size of fund, how much creators would receive, time frame for distributions, selection criteria or other factors. Instead, it’s only offering a sign-up form for those who may be interested in hearing more about this opportunity in the future. That may make it difficult for creators to weigh their options, when there are now so many.

Spotify Greenroom is live today on both iOS and Android across 135 markets around the world. That’s not quite the global footprint of Spotify itself, though, which is available in 178 markets. It’s also only available in the English language for the time being, but plans on expanding as it grows.

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Biden admin will share more info with online platforms on ‘front lines’ of domestic terror fight – TechCrunch

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The Biden administration is outlining new plans to combat domestic terrorism in light of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and social media companies have their own part to play.

The White House released a new national strategy on countering domestic terrorism Tuesday. The plan acknowledges the key role that online platforms play in bringing violent ideas into the mainstream, going as far as calling social media sites the “front lines” of the war on domestic terrorism.

“The widespread availability of domestic terrorist recruitment material online is a national security threat whose front lines are overwhelmingly private–sector online platforms, and we are committed to informing more effectively the escalating efforts by those platforms to secure those front lines,” the White House plan states.

The Biden administration committed to more information sharing with the tech sector to fight the tide of online extremism, part of a push to intervene well before extremists can organize violence. According to a fact sheet on the new domestic terror plan, the U.S. government will prioritize “increased information sharing with the technology sector,” specifically online platforms where extremism is incubated and organized.

“Continuing to enhance the domestic terrorism–related information offered to the private sector, especially the technology sector, will facilitate more robust efforts outside the government to counter terrorists’ abuse of Internet–based communications platforms to recruit others to engage in violence,” the White House plan states.

In remarks timed with the release of the domestic terror strategy, Attorney General Merrick Garland asserted that coordinating with the tech sector is “particularly important” for interrupting extremists who organize and recruit on online platforms and emphasized plans to share enhanced information on potential domestic terror threats.

In spite of the new initiatives, the Biden administration admits that that domestic terrorism recruitment material will inevitably remain available online, particularly on platforms that don’t prioritize its removal — like most social media platforms, prior to January 2021 — and on end-to-end encrypted apps, many of which saw an influx of users when social media companies cracked down on extremism in the U.S. earlier this year.

“Dealing with the supply is therefore necessary but not sufficient: we must address the demand too,” the White House plan states. “Today’s digital age requires an American population that can utilize essential aspects of Internet–based communications platforms while avoiding vulnerability to domestic terrorist recruitment and other harmful content.”

The Biden administration will also address vulnerability to online extremism through digital literacy programs, including “educational materials” and “skills–enhancing online games” designed to inoculate Americans against domestic extremism recruitment efforts, and presumably disinformation and misinformation more broadly.

The plan stops short of naming domestic terror elements like QAnon and the “Stop the Steal” movement specifically, though it acknowledges the range of ways domestic terror can manifest, from small informal groups to organized militias.

A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in March observed the elevated threat to the U.S. that domestic terrorism poses in 2021, noting that domestic extremists leverage mainstream social media sites to recruit new members, organize in-person events and share materials that can lead to violence.

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