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TECH CRUNCH - Damus, the first mobile app to leverage the decentralized social networking protocol, which is known as Nostr, has been published on the App Store. The new app is the latest of many Twitter rivals to emerge following Elon Musk's takeover. Damus is not a venture-backed startup but an experiment in decentralized social networking.
TECH CRUNCH - Snapchat+ Program now has ~2M paid subscribers. Snap noted that the paid plan, which costs $3.99 a month, is a part of "diversifying" its revenue pipelines. Snapchat+ offers users features like the ability to pin someone as their #1 friend; priority in replies to Snap Sta; and see "the general direction of travel for where friends have moved recently."
TECH CRUNCH - Meta is starting to test closed spaces called "members-only worlds" in Horizon Worlds, its social VR experience. The company has begun a limited alpha test to allow creators to grow and moderate their communities. Meta has selected a small group of creators to build and obtain feedback about members-only worlds.
THE VERGE - Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the Instagram co-founders who departed Facebook in 2018, have formed a new venture to explore ideas for next-generation social apps. Their first product is Artifact, a personalized news feed that uses machine learning to understand interests and will soon let users discuss those articles with friends. The app uses algorithmic predictions, which Kevin Systrom sees as 'the future of social.'
SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY - Pinterest has announced a new partnership with publisher Condé Nast which will see the lifestyle brand share exclusive content to the platform, including new video activations around major events, like New York Fashion Week. Pinterest says that Vogue and Architectural Digest will produce ~160 exclusive videos 'aligned with Pinterest’s key seasonal and cultural moments', including Fashion Month in Feb, Wedding Season, Summer, and Back to School activations.
TECH CRUNCH - Meta is killing off yet another project from its in-house R&D group, the NPE Team, following the company's sizable layoffs in Nov, impacting 13% of its workforce. The latest experiment to be wound down is the social to-do list app called Move, launched last spring, which allowed users to earn points for completing tasks on either their personal or group to-do lists. These points, in turn, could be used to customize an alpaca avatar with accessories.
CNET - TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has agreed to testify before a US House of Representatives panel on Mar 23. The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that it will discuss the heavily scrutinized app's consumer privacy and data security, the app's influence on children, and the app's relationship with the Chinese government through parent company ByteDance.
TECH CRUNCH - Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced that the social network is launching its text update Notes feature across Europe and Japan. Notes are short posts of up to 60 characters that include just text and emojis and appear above the profile photo. Users can then type out the note itself, after which it will appear at the top of friends' inboxes for 24 hours.
GEEKWIRE - Paul Maritz, a figure from Microsoft's heyday who went on to lead VMware and other tech companies, has emerged as a major investor in True, a messaging and social networking app that promises to make privacy paramount for its users. The company has raised ~$18M to date from Maritz and other investors, enough to give it a long runway at its current scale. True CEO, Bret Cox, said that True plans to make money through a subscription model that will allow creators to run virtual storefronts to sell products on the platform.
TECH IN ASIA - Bondee, a social app from Metadream, is looking to shake things up, creating quite a bit of online buzz across Southeast Asia. Launched in Jan 17 in select countries in Asia, Bondee has already racked up ~1M downloads on Google Play. Bondeeoffers users 3D avatars, rooms to decorate, and activities with friends.
NEW YORK TIMES - Truth Social, the social network started by Trump, has struggled to attract large brands. Ads from major brands are nonexistent on the site. Instead, the ads on Truth Social are for alternative medicine, diet pills, gun accessories and Trump-themed trinkets. Truth Social raised ~$37M, mainly from Republican political donors, but it is burning through ~$1.7M each month.
TECH CRUNCH - TikTok has quietly expanded its DM settings to give users a choice of who they want to receive messages from. The options are now: everyone, suggested friends, mutual followers, people you've sent messages to, or no one.
SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY - Snapchat has launched a new promotional campaign that leans into the uniqueness of its viral AR trends, with a showcase of bizarre effects, as a means to present people with a different perspective on the real world. The campaign is expected to grab attention, and with 72% of active Snapchat users already engaging with AR elements in the app every day, there's a lot of interest in these types of weirdo activations that provide a new way of seeing the familiar.