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Twitter’s manipulated media policy will remove harmful tweets & voter suppression, label others – TechCrunch



Twitter today is announcing the official version of its “deepfake” and manipulated media policy, which largely involves labeling tweets and warning users of manipulated, deceptively altered or fabricated media — not, in most cases, removing them. Tweets containing manipulated or synthetic media will only be removed if they’re likely to cause harm, the company says.

However, Twitter’s definition of “harm” goes beyond physical harm, like threats to a person’s or group’s physical safety or the risk of mass violence or civil unrest. Also included in the definition of “harm” are any threats to the privacy or the ability of a person or group to freely express themselves or participate in civic events.

That means the policy covers things like stalking, unwanted or obsessive attention and targeted content containing tropes, epithets or material intended to silence someone. And notably, given the impending U.S. presidential election, it also includes voter suppression or intimidation.

An initial draft of Twitter’s policy was first announced in November. At the time, Twitter said it would place a notice next to tweets sharing synthetic and manipulated media, warn users before they shared those tweets and include informational links explaining why the media was believed to be manipulated. This, essentially, is now confirmed as the official policy but is spelled out in more detail.

Twitter says it collected user feedback ahead of crafting the new policy using the hashtag #TwitterPolicyFeedback and gathered more than 6,500 responses as a result. The company prides itself on engaging its community when making policy decisions, but given Twitter’s slow to flat user growth over the years, it may want to try consulting with people who have so far refused to join Twitter. This would give Twitter a wider understanding as to why so many have opted out and how that intersects with its policy decisions.

The company also says it consulted with a global group of civil society and academic experts, such as Witness, the U.K.-based Reuters Institute and researchers at New York University.

Based on feedback, Twitter found that a majority of users (70%) wanted Twitter to take action on misleading and altered media, but only 55% wanted all media of this sort removed. Dissenters, as expected, cited concerns over free expression. Most users (90%) only wanted manipulated media considered harmful to be removed. A majority (75+%) also wanted Twitter to take further action on the accounts sharing this sort of media.

Unlike Facebook’s deepfake policy, which ignores disingenuous doctoring like cuts and splices to videos and out-of-context clips, Twitter’s policy isn’t limited to a specific technology, such as AI-enabled deepfakes. It’s much broader.

“Things like selected editing or cropping or slowing down or overdubbing, or manipulation of subtitles would all be forms of manipulated media that we would consider under this policy,” confirmed Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter.

“Our goal in making these assessments is to understand whether someone on Twitter who’s just scrolling through their timeline has enough information to understand whether the media being shared in a tweet is or isn’t what it claims to be,” he explained.

The policy utilizes three tests to decide how Twitter will take action on manipulated media. It first confirms the media itself is synthetic or manipulated. It then assesses if the media is being shared in a deceptive manner. And finally, it evaluates the potential for harm.

Media is considered deceptive if it could result in confusing others or leading to misunderstandings, or if it tries to deceive people about its origin — like media that claims it’s depicting reality, but is not.

This is where the policy gets a little messy, as Twitter will have to examine the further context of this media, including not only the tweet’s text, but also the media’s metadata, the Twitter’s user’s profile information, including websites linked in the profile that are sharing the media, or websites linked in the tweet itself. This sort of analysis can take time and isn’t easily automated.

If the media is determined also to cause serious harm, as described above, it will be removed.

Twitter, though, has left itself a lot of wiggle room in crafting the policy, using words like “may” and “likely” to indicate its course of action in each scenario. (See rubric below).

For example, manipulated media “may be” labeled, and manipulated and deceptive content is “likely to be” labeled. Manipulated, deceptive and harmful content is “very likely” to be removed. This sort of wording gives Twitter leeway to make policy exceptions, without actually breaking policy as it would if it used stronger language like “will be removed” or “will be labeled.”

That said, Twitter’s manipulated media policy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Some of the worst types of manipulated media, like non-consensual nudity, were already banned by the Twitter Rules. The new policy, then, isn’t the only thing that will be considered when Twitter makes a decision.

Today, Twitter is also detailing how manipulated media will be labeled. In the case where the media isn’t removed because it doesn’t “cause harm,” Twitter will add a warning label to the tweet along with a link to additional explanations and clarifications, via a landing page that offers more context.

A fact-checking component will also be a part of this system, led by Twitter’s curation team. In the case of misleading tweets, Twitter aims to present facts from news organizations, experts and others who are talking about what’s happening directly in line with the misleading tweets.

Twitter will also show a warning label to people before they retweet or like the tweet, may reduce the visibility of a tweet and may prevent it from being recommended.

One drawback to Twitter’s publish-in-public platform is that tweets can go viral and spread very quickly, while Twitter’s ability to enforce its policy can lag behind. Twitter isn’t proactively scouring its network for misinformation in most cases — it’s relying on its users reporting tweets for review.

And that can take time. Twitter has been criticized over the years for its failures to respond to harassment and abuse, despite policies to the contrary, and its struggle to remove bad actors. In other words, Twitter’s intentions with regard to manipulated media may be spelled out in this new policy, but Twitter’s real-world actions may still be found lacking. Time will tell.

“Twitter’s mission is to serve the public conversation. As part of that, we want to encourage healthy participation in that conversation. Things that distort or distract from what’s happening threaten the integrity of information on Twitter,” said Twitter VP of Trust & Safety, Del Harvey. “Our goal is really to provide people with more context around certain types of media they come across on Twitter and to ensure they’re able to make informed decisions around what they’re seeing,” she added.

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5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing – TechCrunch



If I told you a decade ago that a spin bike would be a social community, you’d have had a good laugh. But that’s precisely what Peloton is: A spin bike with a social community where the instructors are the influencers.

Peloton is just one example of how social is being integrated into every aspect of the customer experience in an increasingly digital world. Whether it’s considering a new restaurant to check out, a movie to see or a product to buy, most people look at reviews before making a final decision. They want social proof as an indicator of quality and relevance.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust. Indeed, social validation is what social platforms are built on, so it’s a significant component of how we derive relevance online — and the deeper integration of social is changing the dynamic between brands and digital creators.

The shifting economy of creator monetization

Brand sponsorships are the holy grail for creators hoping to monetize their online influence. According to an eMarketer report, brand partnerships are still the No. 1 source of revenue for most digital creators.

However, digital creators have a lot more monetization options to choose from, thanks to Patreon, affiliate platforms, paid content platforms and platform revenue sharing, making it easier to earn a living without relying so heavily on brand sponsorships.

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As a result, creators are diversifying their revenue streams, which, for some creators, allows them to be more selective about the brands they work with. What’s more, creators aren’t reliant on just one channel or one form of revenue.

YouTube creators probably have the most diversified revenue, often combining brand sponsorships, subscription models, affiliate deals, tipping/donations, their line of branded products and revenue share. However, it’s important to note that not all monetization options apply to every creator. But with so many options to choose from, making a living as a digital creator is more accessible than ever.

Here are a few of the ways online creators can monetize their content:

Ad revenue sharing: Advertising is the most traditional form of revenue for online creators. With this model, ads are injected into and around the creator’s content, and they make a certain percentage of revenue based on impressions. However, the revenue split can vary based on the platform, and some platforms have a specific threshold creators must hit before they can participate in ad revenue sharing.

Affiliate marketing: Similar to advertising or a brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is an agreement for a share of revenue based on products sold. This kind of arrangement generally works best when the creator has a blog, website or YouTube account. Affiliate links allow the influencer to proactively choose the products they want to talk about and earn from, rather than having to wait for a brand deal to come their way.

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Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels, rolls out ads worldwide – TechCrunch



Instagram Reels are getting ads. The company announced today it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform and TikTok rival, Reels, to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads will be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

The company had previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber, and others.

Instagram tells us the ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore, and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company couldn’t say how often a user might see a Reels ad, noting that the number of ads a viewer may encounter will vary based on how they use Instagram. But the company is monitoring user sentiment around ads themselves, and the overall commercially of Reels, it says.

Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likey assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.

While vertical video has already shown the potential for driving consumers to e-commerce shopping sites, Instagram hasn’t yet taken advantage of Reels ads to drive users to its built-in Instagram Shops, though that seems like a natural next step as it attempts to tie the different parts of its app together.

But perhaps ahead of that step, Instagram needs to make Reels a more compelling destination — something other TikTok rivals, which now include both Snap and YouTube — have done by funding creator content directly. Instagram, meanwhile, had made offers to select TikTok stars directly.

The launch of Instagram Reels ads follows news of TikTok’s climbing ad prices. Bloomberg reported this month that TikTok is now asking for more than $1.4 million for a home page takeover ad in the U.S., as of the third quarter, which will jump to $1.8 million by Q4 and more than $2 million on a holiday. Though the company is still building its ads team and advertisers haven’t yet allocated large portions of their video budget to the app, that tends to follow user growth — and TikTok now has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Both apps, Instagram and TikTok, now have over a billion monthly active users on a global basis, though Reels is only a part of the larger Instagram platform. For comparison, Instagram Stories is used by some 500 million users, which demonstrates Instagram’s ability to drive traffic to different areas of its app. Instagram declined to share how many users Reels has as of today.

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Twine raises $3.3M to add networking features to virtual events – TechCrunch



Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester, and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.

The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub, and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding Partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.

The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders —  Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau, and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.

Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.

The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under Covid lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.

So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up live streams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.

“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.

By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up-and-running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.

“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience– and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.

Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.

The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.

Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.

“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.

Image Credits: twine

Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.

Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.

Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.

“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hoppin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”

Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.

But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.

With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements, and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.

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