The Weekly Download – August 7, 2020

Welcome back to The Weekly Download! 

On today’s agenda: Instagram launches its own TikTok competitor, Reels, Twitter faces big privacy fines, Canadians shy away from new COVID Alert tracing app, plus – could a ban on TikTok really be on the horizon? We’re finishing the news roundup off with some “moody” Friday Fun that’s sure to put a smile on your face!

Instagram Launches TikTok Competitor Reels in North America

Noticed that your Instagram app is looking a little different these days? Instagram’s TikTok clone, Reels, finally made its debut in North America this week. Reels has many of the same features TikTok users have come to know and love built directly within the Instagram app. 

Users can create short videos up to 15 seconds in length and have access to editing tools such as a timer, countdown clock, and other camera effects. There’s also a library of licensed music and user-recorded audio. For now, Reels will live within the Explore page.

Following TikTok’s viral success, it’s no surprise that other social media giants have wondered how they can capitalize on the popularity of short-form video (without the intense political scrutiny and drama – more on that later).

According to Instagram, users have been waiting for this type of content on the app. In the past month, 45 percent of videos uploaded to Instagram’s feed were 15 seconds or less. Instagram hopes that Reels help to enable “the next generation of content creators.”

TikTok Has Until September 15 to Find a US Buyer

After speaking out about his plan to ban the app on American soil, the President said TikTok has until September 15 to find a US buyer. According to reports, Microsoft is at the forefront of a potential deal.

Some have wondered about the legality of his threats to prevent the app from operating in the US. While the thought of a ban seems somewhat outlandish, the US certainly wouldn’t be the first country to block TikTok, following suit of Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. TikTok, owned by Beijing-based company Byte Dance, has come under intense scrutiny as a potential national security threat because of its Chinese ties. 

When approached for comments about the President’s ultimatum, a TikTok spokesperson said that the company has over 100 million American users and plans on doing business in the US for “many years to come.”

Twitter Could Face Big Privacy Fines for Privacy Flub

After making a rather large privacy infringement mistake using two-factor authentication data, Twitter could be in for some costly fines.

Last October, the company announced that it may have “inadvertently” used phone numbers submitted by some users for two-factor authentication purposes for advertising. The social media network said that email and phone numbers added for additional security somehow ended up in its Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences advertising systems.

Some people weren’t buying it:

While accidents can happen, instances like this are sure to breed mistrust for Twitter users who are turning to two-factor authentication for an additional layer of security. 

Now, almost one year later, the company might end up on the receiving end of up to $250 million in fines for the massive oversight. According to Twitter, beyond undermining the trust of users, the incident could have violated the Federal Trade Commission’s 2011 consent order — an agreement that required the social media network to protect non-public consumer information.

The penalties are still up in the air for now, but Twitter estimates a “probable loss in this matter” between $150 to $250 million.

Less Than 4% of Canadians Have Downloaded the COVID Tracing App

Just 1.3 million people – roughly 3.4 percent of Canadians – have downloaded the Canada-wide COVID tracing app which launched on August 3. 

Some have cited privacy concerns for not downloading the app (although the app’s privacy protections are more robust than Facebook’s), while others have faced roadblocks due to dated hardware. Canadians have worried that the app’s incompatibility with older devices will mean that older and poorer groups will be left out.

Experts say that at least 60 percent of Canadians must download the app in order for it to be effective against the spread of the pandemic. 

According to Canada’s top public health doctor, the app isn’t supposed to be a comprehensive solution to the pandemic or contact tracing efforts, but rather a helpful tool – especially for “extremely relevant” target groups like young adults.

Have you downloaded the COVID Alert app?

Friday Fun

2020 Got Me Like…

Have you seen the latest meme taking Instagram by storm? The 2020 Challenge meme, initially inspired by some of Reese Witherspoon’s iconic roles, is a month-by-month look at the year so far.

Referred to as a “mood calendar,” the meme looks at January to September and starts out hopeful, optimistic, and inspired and… Well, you know how things go from there.

What would your 2020 mood calendar look like?

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site