Facebook Wants Tweens' Attention, and They're Losing It [Content Made Simple]

Issue #240: YouTube bans anti-vaxx content, Amazon's wack robot, and more.

Facebook’s Effort to Attract Preteens Goes Beyond Instagram Kids, Documents Show



Facebook Inc. has come under increasing fire in recent days for its effect on young users and its efforts to create products for them. Inside the company, teams of employees have for years been laying plans to attract preteens that go beyond what is publicly known, spurred by fear that Facebook could lose a new generation of users critical to its future.

Internal Facebook documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the company formed a team to study preteens, set a three-year goal to create more products for them and commissioned strategy papers about the long-term business opportunities presented by these potential users. In one presentation, it contemplated whether there might be a way to engage children during play dates.


And we all thought the WSJ was done with the Facebook Files! This week, Facebook announced through a rare national television appearance on the TODAY show that they would be “pausing” the Instagram Kids project that had been the source of a lot of criticism even before the WSJ’s latest revelations. Facebook made it sound like the purpose of Instagram Kids was actually to protect children, not take advantage of their attention for ad revenues. The latest documents published by the WSJ suggest a different reality, in Facebook’s own words.

The most interesting part of that story is that Facebook seems to be baffled by why kids aren’t using Kids Messenger during play dates with one another. They literally say, “Is there a way to leverage playdates?” Here’s a tweet with that info:


Link #1: YouTube bans all anti-vaccine misinformation

YouTube, owned by Google, is the last major social media platform to ban anti-vaccine misinformation. Their ban goes beyond COVID-19 vaccines.

YouTube said on Wednesday that it was banning the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine activists from its platform, including those of Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as part of an effort to remove all content that falsely claims that approved vaccines are dangerous.

In a blog post, YouTube said it would remove videos claiming that vaccines do not reduce rates of transmission or contraction of disease, and content that includes misinformation on the makeup of the vaccines. Claims that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that the vaccines contain trackers, will also be removed.

Link #2: Leaked Documents Show How Amazon’s Astro Robot Tracks Everything You Do

I know this is a social media newsletter and this article isn’t really “social media” related, but it was too funny that I had to share it.

“Astro is terrible and will almost certainly throw itself down a flight of stairs if presented the opportunity. The person detection is unreliable at best, making the in-home security proposition laughable,” a source who worked on the project said. “The device feels fragile for something with an absurd cost. The mast has broken on several devices, locking itself in the extended or retracted position, and there's no way to ship it to Amazon when that happens.”

“They're also pushing it as an accessibility device but with the masts breaking and the possibility that at any given moment it'll commit suicide on a flight of stairs, it's, at best, absurdist nonsense and marketing and, at worst, potentially dangerous for anyone who'd actually rely on it for accessibility purposes,” the source said.

Link #3: Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong

This sounds like the proposal of a wacky Netflix show, but it’s real life. Misreporting online content statistics is real and very lucrative! Until you get caught…impersonating a Google executive on an investor call? Wild.

Ozy doesn’t rely on standard measurements of traffic, but the best known service, Comscore, shows nothing close to the company’s public claims. According to Comscore, Ozy reached nearly 2.5 million people during some months in 2018, but only 230,000 people in June 2021 and 479,000 in July. Mr. Watson called the Comscore numbers “incomplete,” noting they don’t include impressions on platforms ranging from social media to television and podcasts.

Other figures seem off, but are harder to verify. Ozy told Axios in January that the company’s newsletters had “more than 20 million subscribers.” By comparison, the Morning Brew, a successful newsletter-based business media company, says it has three million subscribers.


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