It’s a tale of two social titans on this week’s Mediatwits podcast. On Tuesday, select users were able to test out Twitter’s new dedicated news tab. An algorithm is used to determine which news stories are featured in the experimental feature. The tech company has struggled to attract more users lately and the “Featured News” tab may be an attempt to make the service easier to use. Whether or not the new service becomes permanent remains to be seen. But we can be fairly certain Facebook’s going to keep its native video service. The feature has come a long way since it originally launched as a test feature in late 2013. Often, the same video will get more views and faster on Facebook than on YouTube. But not everyone is happy about FB video. Earlier this week, Hank Green, a popular YouTube creator, wrote a scathing piece criticizing Facebook’s practices, including pirated video and how it counts brief views that are auto-played for viewers. Our special guests this week are Lauren Johnson of Adweek, Erin Griffith of Fortune, Selena Larson of the Daily Dot and regular Andrew Lih of American University. MediaShift’s Mark Glaser will host, with Jefferson Yen producing.
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Mark Glaser is executive editor and publisher of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is an award-winning writer and accidental entrepreneur, who has taken MediaShift from a one-person blog to a growing media company with events such as Collab/Space workshops and weekend hackathons; the weekly “Mediatwits” podcast; and digital trainings, DigitalEd, in partnership with top journalism schools. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.
Andrew Lih is a new media journalist and associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication. He is the author of “The Wikipedia Revolution” (Hyperion 2009, Aurum UK 2009) and is a noted expert on online collaboration and journalism. He is a veteran of AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1994 created the first online city guide for New York City (www.ny.com). Follow him on Twitter @fuzheado.
Lauren Johnson is a staff writer at Adweek, covering how brands and agencies use mobile, social media and emerging platforms for marketing. Find her @laurenjohnson
Erin Griffith is a writer for Fortune, where she covers technology and startups. She regularly appears on Tech Debate, a Fortune video show, and Fortune Live. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Salon, Cosmopolitan and BBC.com. Griffith joined Fortune in 2014. Previously, she worked as a staff writer at Adweek, PandoDaily, peHUB and Mergermarket. She is on Twitter @Eringriffith.
Selena Larson is a technology reporter at the Daily Dot based in San Francisco. She writes about diversity in tech, culture, social media, and the different ways technology is changing and shaping industries like education, healthcare, and the arts. She tweets @selenalarson
To understand how important Twitter has become for publishers, you have to look at one number from a report by Triggertrap CEO Haje Jan Kamps: 24.6 percent. The single largest group of verified accounts on the social media service is journalists. Journalists and news organizations are also the most active users on Twitter according to the same report. But for regular users of Twitter, it can be difficult to find trustworthy sources of information, so the experimental news tab (on iOS and Android apps for some people) is a way to point out important news stories of the moment. However, some users feel it’s not necessary and weighs heavily with legacy media stories, while others are comparing the feature to trending news on Facebook. For now, it’s just an experiment so time will tell how much power it might have over referrals to news publishers.
Meanwhile, Facebook has been pushing hard into video, taking YouTube on head-to head. However, publishers of video content are already seeing some potential downsides right now on Facebook. As Hank Green writes on Medium, the company’s native video policies allow people to rip off videos from around the web and upload to Facebook — but it’s hard for publishers to remove “freebooted” content. Green cites a statistic from an Ogilvy and Tubular Labs report which found that in the first quarter of 2015 nearly 75 percent of Facebook’s most popular videos were pirated from others. The social giant will likely kill this type of content in the future by changing either its policy or algorithm the same way they eliminated social games and “clickbait” headlines in its News Feed. The problem is that publishers will see others benefit from their content going viral while Facebook continues to rake in advertising dollars. Plus, if Facebook continues to count views that are less than 30 seconds (YouTube only counts views that are this long), then it will put it at odds with a movement toward more meaningful metrics.
What’s the potential for Twitter’s news tab? Can it be influential in pushing traffic to publishers? And what will Facebook do to improve the native video issues for publishers? Can it stem the tide of freebooting and work toward better metrics?
Jefferson Yen is the producer for the Mediatwits Podcast. His work has been on KPCC Southern California Public Radio and KRTS Marfa Public Radio. You can follow him @jeffersontyen.