Weekly Buzz: Legal Action Against Meta Alleges Harmful Practices Targeting Young Users

Weekly Buzz - October 27, 2023

Happy Friday, and welcome back to the Weekly Buzz. After a bit of a break, we’re back! And we have lots of updates from the digital marketing world to share with you.

On today’s agenda: Meta finds itself at the centre of a new lawsuit alleging harmful practices against young users, the latest on Threads and the app’s future, doubts arise over reports from Twitter/X regarding its user base, Friday Fun, and more.

Let’s dive in!

States take Meta to court, alleging harmful practices targeting young users

A coalition of 41 states, led by Colorado and California, has filed a lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Messenger. The lawsuit alleges that Meta used deceptive tactics to engage children and teenagers on its platforms, exposing them to potentially harmful content.

The legal action claims that Meta intentionally addicted young users with features like “infinite scroll” and excessive notifications. Additionally, it accuses Meta of marketing its products to individuals under 13, violating company policies and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal data without proper consent.

The lawsuit also criticizes Meta for its lack of transparency regarding research findings on the impact of its platforms on young users. It suggests that Meta’s pursuit of profit may come at the expense of the psychological and emotional well-being of young individuals.

This lawsuit follows a nationwide investigation into Meta’s practices, examining Instagram’s approach to young consumers and the potential health effects of its usage. It’s part of a broader trend of legal action against Big Tech’s influence on younger generations, with TikTok recently facing a similar lawsuit in Utah for alleged manipulative tactics targeting teenagers.

Meta’s Threads aims for growth but reports fewer daily active users

This week, Meta disclosed that its text-based social network, Threads, currently has fewer than 100 million monthly users, just three months after its launch. During an earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg expressed satisfaction with Threads’ progress, foreseeing the possibility of reaching one billion users at the current growth rate in the next few years.

It’s worth noting that monthly active users can be a misleading metric for engagement. Even a single use within a month qualifies as an active user. In comparison, Threads’ rival, X (formerly Twitter), boasts nearly 550 million monthly active users, as shared by Elon Musk. Earlier this month, X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, revealed the platform has 245 million daily active users—but more on that later.

While Meta didn’t disclose Threads’ daily active user numbers, it reportedly has approximately five times fewer daily active users than when it launched in July. Threads initially garnered 100 million sign-ups within a week of launch but has since faced declining engagement.

To boost Threads’ engagement, Meta has introduced sought-after features such as post search, a web version, an edit button, and accessible account switching. Future updates, including the addition of trending posts and the ability to delete Instagram accounts from Threads, are in development. However, Threads remains unavailable in the EU, with no timeline mentioned for its launch.

Meta has also experimented with methods like showcasing suggested Threads posts on Instagram and Facebook and is considering enabling users to share Threads posts directly to their Instagram stories.

For now, the primary challenge for Threads is to increase engagement and become a hub for real-time events, including pop culture moments and sports, as it strives to empower creators and offer an alternative to existing platforms.

Are you active on Threads? Let us know!

Doubts arise over Twitter/X’s reported user numbers amidst decline

Questions are emerging regarding the accuracy of Twitter/X’s reported user metrics, raising concerns about the platform’s actual user base and recent performance. An analysis by Apptopia, tracking over 100,000 mobile app users, indicates that Twitter/X currently boasts approximately 121 million daily active users, notably lower than the 253 million reported by Twitter/X itself.

Since Elon Musk acquired the platform in October 2022, it has reportedly seen a 13% drop in daily active users, a decline that accelerated with its rebranding from Twitter to X.

Despite this decline, those still using the app appear to be just as engaged, with no significant reduction in average time spent. Interestingly, the introduction of Threads, another platform under the Meta umbrella, has not directly contributed to Twitter/X’s decline.

The accuracy of Twitter/X’s user metrics has been a subject of debate, notably Elon Musk’s claims of reaching “record highs” in usage since his takeover. Musk’s statements regarding bot presence have also raised questions, as he suggested that 20% of users were bots yet later implied their removal.

Given these uncertainties, the reported 550 million monthly active users figure by X is now under scrutiny. Typically, daily versus monthly user statistics on social platforms are multiplied by around 1.8x. Applying this logic to the newly reported daily users suggests X may have approximately 223 million monthly active users, considerably lower than the reported figure.

Furthermore, Apptopia’s analysis indicates a widening gap between daily and monthly users, potentially positioning X’s actual audience behind major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest in terms of active users. These findings cast doubt on X’s reported numbers and highlight the need for further clarity regarding its user base.

Instagram tests polls in comments to boost user engagement

Instagram is currently testing a new feature that allows selected users to include interactive polls within the comment sections of feed posts and Reels clips. This addition expands Instagram’s poll options beyond Stories and direct messages (DMs).

The platform has been experimenting with this feature for about six months, with different iterations spotted during testing by some users. Polls have been popular in various forms and apps due to their simplicity, making it easy for viewers to share their opinions and engage with content.

For brands and creators, polls can be a valuable tool to gather feedback and increase engagement rates. The straightforward response format can lead to higher interactions and positive signals for Instagram’s algorithm.

Instagram’s chief, Adam Mosseri, mentioned that this feature is currently in “a small test” phase, while Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that it will roll out to all users soon.

This addition provides users with a new way to interact with content, and it will be intriguing to observe how people incorporate these polls within their comment sections to enhance engagement and gather insights.

Friday Fun

Actual footage of us running into the weekend like:

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site