What a difference a day makes. In just 24 hours, two new features on two social media platforms have created quite the kerfuffle. Let's recap, shall we?
Twitter Changes Blocking Policy — Twice
On Thursday, Twitter announced that it was changing its blocking feature, which allows you to preventing a user from following you or interacting with your tweets. Previously, if you didn't want someone to follow you, you blocked them. Then Twitter decided to change it so that blocked users wouldn't show up in your Twitter feed, but could still see your profile and Tweets. That didn't go over so well.
And for good reason. With the old policy, the person being blocked would know they were being blocked. The new policy would make it so blockees, so to speak, have no idea they've been blocked. Twitter claimed it was to protect victims of harassment or other online stalking by removing the confrontation — but in essence it seemed to make it pretty easy for harassers to engage with their victims.
Well, the people have spoken. As of this morning, Twitter announced reverted the change "after receiving feedback from many users."
Twitter Lets Users DM Photos
The uprising over its blocking policy almost overshadowed Twitter's other big news this week. On Tuesday, it released an update to its mobile app. Now you can send images in direct messages as opposed to just text. Perhaps this was in anticipation of the Instagram news or a response to Snapchat's popularity or it's another experiment.
Adding photos to the DM was just one of the new functionality appearing in the app update: iOs users also have the ability to swipe between various timelines and can receive new in-app notifications that let them know when other users send a DM or favorite, retweet or reply to a tweet. Android users can enable mobile notifications for specific users by tapping the star on their profile.
Instagram users can now send photos and video messages directly to their friends. Instagram Direct, as it is called, is meant to help users streamline the moments they capture more meaningfully. The new feature is built into the existing app, so the only things users need to do is specify whether a given image or video should be posted to all followers or directly to a specific user or group.
After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it and monitor your recipients' comments, just like before.
At first, users seemed unsure as to why this feature was necessary. But in a way, it's surprising that this never existed before. Facebook has private messages. Twitter has direct messaging. By combining photo and video sharing with instant messaging, users now have a smarter option to share photos — one that allows them to be a little more private.
Google Begins Testing Plus Post Ads
Not to be outdone by Facebook's promoted posts or Twitter's sponsored tweets, Google is testing a new type of monetization for Google Plus called Plus Post ads. The company will let select brands, like Toyota and Ritz crackers, turn Google Plus content into display ads. According to Google, Plus Post ads:
allow a brand to take a piece of their public Google+ content, like a photo, video or even a Hangout, and with a few clicks, turn it into a display ad that can run across the more than 2 million sites in the Google Display Network. This lets brands think of the entire web as their social stream."
By allowing advertisers to start conversations right from the ad, consumers will be able to engage directly with the advertiser. They can reshare videos, leave comments or questions or even join a live Hangout. Google expects these conversations to "create a valuable community around a brand where people can talk with each other and with the brand itself."
Considering that Google is making it so that Google Plus is the center of all engagement, requiring users to connect to their Google Plus account before commenting on YouTube videos, for example, these Plus Post ads are bound to give brands more than just engagement. You can bet that advertisers will be able to glean vast amounts of information about consumers as a result.