Social Media Rundown: Twitter Fights Bots; Facebook Shows Decline in Europe; Gab is the Fringe Forum of Choice for Extremists

The top social media stories of the week focus on two familiar social networking giants (Facebook and Twitter) and one that is likely only familiar to a few (Gab). For the unfamiliar, Gab is a fringe social networking site that promises a guarantee of free speech, no matter how offensive. Robert D. Bowers, the suspect who allegedly opened fire on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh grew a large following on Gab — where he had a verified account — by sharing a steady stream of anti-Semitic statements.

As the major social media companies make important changes in their platforms to curtail the spread of fake news and limit hate speech by banning users who violate their self-set community standards, new platforms like Gab will continue to crop up. When extremists are banned from one social networking site, they usually just move to another platform, which is often a fringe forum, “where there is far less content to counter many of the false conspiracy claims that people being radicalized are likely to see.”

On that note, Twitter is busy making it easier to report fake accounts; although I remain skeptical that adding the reporting option “the account tweeting this is fake” will have much of an impact. Meanwhile, despite its good intentions, the Twitter Midterms Page was flooded with hyperpartisan and false news shortly after launch.

Be sure to check out the two charts below to see how ubiquitous Facebook has become. And don’t skip the learn section for an inside look at the social media strategy of the Financial Times and how to combine email and social ads for better conversions.

Social Media News:

  • Twitter Now Lets You Report Accounts That You Suspect Are Bots (The Verge). In Twitter’s ongoing fight against spammers and fake accounts, you can now select “it’s suspicious or spam” on a tweet to see the option “the account tweeting this is fake.”
  • Zuckerberg Says the Future Is Sharing via 100b Messages & 1b Stories/Day (TechCrunch). Stories are where the majority of Facebook sharing growth is happening, and Facebook Stories are gaining momentum after a slow and buggy start. Look no further than these stats to see just how popular Messenger has become:
Facebook Messenger is now the company's most popular product with 1.3 billion monthly active users and 10 billion messages sent each month.
Facebook Messenger is becoming more and more popular with 1.3 billion people using the service each month.
  • Twitter Just Launched a Midterms Page and It’s Already Surfacing Trolls and False, Hyperpartisan News (BuzzFeed News). Just hours into its rollout, the ‘latest’ tab on the Midterms Page was promoting hyperpartisan and false news, as well as tweets from seemingly automated accounts.
  • The Pittsburgh Suspect Lived in the Web’s Darkest Corners (The Atlantic). Robert Bowers was an avid user of Gab, a social network popular among white nationalists and the alt-right. Gab allows users to say pretty much anything they want. The social networking site’s maximalist approach to free speech has made it the de facto home of extremist figures who have been banned from mainstream social networks for making threats, inciting violence, or promoting racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic ideas.


  • Inside the Social Media Strategy at the Financial Times (Simon Owens via Medium). The Financial Times is projected to hit 1 million paying digital subscribers by next year, and has done so while maintaining a hard paywall. According to FT’s head of social media, their strategy is not all that different than if they were operating without a paywall. “Putting this stuff on social in a compelling way, a shareable way, in a way people like and want to engage with, is a good practice for us. It gets our journalism out in front of more people than it would otherwise. And also, it helps us reach audiences we wouldn’t otherwise.”
  • How to Combine Facebook Ads and Email Marketing for Better Conversions (Social Media Examiner). Read on to learn how to use Facebook ads with email marketing to improve conversions in three steps.

Chart of the Week:

Facebook’s User Base Is Declining in Europe, and That Ought to Terrify Its American Bosses (BusinessInsider). Facebook has more users in Europe than it does in the US. The downshift comes after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal and the implementation of GDPR.

Facebook Monthly Active Users in Europe has shown a decline in the first three quarter of 2018.
Monthly Active Users on Facebook has shown a drop in growth in Europe for the first time in the company’s history.

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