Vincent Varney, 10 Jun 2019

The week in social: Facebook Avatars, YouTube bans, and Minecraft IRL

Facebook takes on Bitmoji with Avatars

If you resemble neither the round, yellow emoji fellow nor Pusheen, you’re in luck – Facebook is introducing customizable Avatars that can be used as stickers in comments and private messages. As with Snapchat’s Bitmoji, users can adjust their Avatars to best match their own appearances, and Facebook has made efforts to ensure the options allow for diverse representations. The feature is currently only available in Australia and will roll globally at a later date.

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Read more at TechCrunch

YouTube widens ban on hate speech

Google is expanding its efforts to combat hate speech and misinformation on YouTube in series of policy of changes. Content that aims to justify discrimination or deny events such as a Holocaust are now outright prohibited, while channels that repeatedly violate YouTube’s guidelines will be suspended from monetization. Furthermore, the streaming platform announced it will bring its program to increase the reach of authoritative voices to more countries after being piloted in the U.S. in January.

Read more at the Official YouTube Blog

At long last, iMessage will add profile pictures

During its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed that the next major update to iOS will allow users to give themselves profile pictures in iMessage (please let the record state that the year is 2019). The long-awaited change will mean that iPhone users won’t need to manually upload images for each of their contacts – instead, you’ll be able to select your own photo, Memoji, or Animoji to associate with your account, which will be automatically visible to anyone you chat with.

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Read more at TechCrunch

Minecraft lets users collaboratively build IRL

Microsoft is bringing its virtual Lego box into the real world with an upcoming smartphone game called Minecraft Earth. In an onstage demo at WWDC, the company showed off the ability to build digital structures that appear IRL thanks to augmented reality. The app takes clear inspiration from Pokémon Go, placing a heavy emphasis on collaboration and interacting with other players – users can build together and take photos of each other inside their creations. It’s set for a beta release in the coming months.

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Read more at Engadget

Instagram officially brings “branded content” ads to the masses

In a recent announcement, Instagram said it’s now letting brands turn posts from creator accounts into paid ads. Sound familiar? The social network has been toying with this idea for sometime, having started tests in 2018 and unleashing it more widely back in March, but the ad format is now openly available to all businesses. When an influencer’s content is turned into a ‘branded content’ ad, it’ll appear in the feeds of those who don’t follow the influencer and sport a “Paid Partnership with…” tag.

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Read more at Instagram’s Business Blog