Digital Dash: Google does IWD & more

1. Google shows up for International Women’s Day
2. 4 new features Instagram didn’t want you to know about yet
3. BlackBerry gets bitter, sues Facebook for basically everything
4. Coming to a Facebook near you: 4 features to watch out for
5. Washington state fights for net neutrality with passing of new law

1. Google shows up for International Women’s Day

I’m currently proving how great women are at multi-tasking by rounding up this week’s top digital news stories while simultaneously performing a word-perfect (slightly less pitch-perfect) rendition of Destiny’s Child’s Independent Woman.

You’ll read this Digital Dash update March 9th or sometime after, but it’s currently March 8th – International Women’s Day (IWD).

The office playlist, carefully curated over several months, was wiped first thing this morning to make way for a IWD-inspired women-only tracklist (that also features a couple of Post Malone songs because, well, our social media manager Beth loves him a lot).

Companies worldwide are also marking the occasion, and we felt Google’s celebratory update deserved a special shoutout.

A new option has been added to its management tool Google My Business, meaning a business listing can now be accompanied by a female symbol and ‘Women led’ tag.

It will appear alongside other badges that flag important business attributes to people searching. As you can see, these include things like ‘Trending’ and ‘Highly rated’.


Photo cred: Google

Facebook also showed its support for IWD in a few ways. One of the most interesting is a new Community Finder tool (part of the #SheMeansBusiness program) that will help female entrepreneurs connect with female-owned businesses in 23 countries.


Photo cred: Mashable

YouTube got in on the IWD action too, adding a dedicated video suggestion feed to its homepage that featured a pretty diverse range of female-oriented content.



2. 4 new features Instagram didn’t want you to know about yet

Now playing: Rich Girl, Gwen Stefani

Still multi-tasking. Ready to launch into Eve’s rap solo any second.

While I’m waiting, let me tell you about a bunch of new features that Instagram is testing right now, as initially reported by TheNextWeb.

Cinemagraphs: this is such a baby of a test that there aren’t any screenshots of the feature in action yet – but – the existence of a ‘Cinemagraph’ option can at least be proven thanks to some high-tech trickery from WABetaInfo. For those who don’t know, a cinemagraph is essentially a video transformed into a still image with only one element left in motion (e.g. waterfall). With Instagram being such a visual platform, this would be a really great addition.


Portrait mode: another nifty bit of detective work (reported to TechCrunch by Ishan Agarwal) has uncovered a ‘portrait shutter’ icon for the Stories camera, hidden within the Android Application Package (APK). This could enable users to create more professional-looking photos by automatically blurring out the background (just like the portrait mode on the iPhone 8 plus and iPhone X cameras).

IG_portrait mode

Starred conversations/messages: you could soon be able to mark a chat or individual message on Direct to make it easier to find later.

IG_starred messages

Data download: if rolled out, this would let you download all of your Instagram data (including photos, profile info and more).

IG_data download

3. BlackBerry gets bitter, sues Facebook for basically everything

Now playing: Don’t let go, En Vogue

I’m now swaying in my seat.

In other news, anyone remember BlackBerry? You were probably glued to yours for half a decade or so before you discovered Apple/Samsung and realised they were a billion times better.

Well BlackBerry is back… kind of. It’s back in the news at least, mainly because it’s suing Facebook and all of its associated messaging tools, including Messenger and WhatsApp, for infringing on its intellectual property.

Seven counts of infringement are being pursued in total covering various features and technologies, such as messaging security, UI, messaging, gaming and more. BlackBerry are even claiming ownership of the little red notification dot that tells you how many unread messages you have.

And Facebook’s general counsel Paul Gewal went full sass in a clapback even Chrissy Teigen woud be proud of, stating: ‘Blackberry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business. Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others. We intend to fight.’

Gotta have some pretty big berries to take on Facebook. Good luck with that.


4. Coming to a Facebook near you: 4 features to watch out for

Now playing: Back to black, Amy Winehouse

I’m feeling an intense urge to binge-listen to the entire album.

But first, back to Facebook.

In downtime between meetings with lawyers, the company has been busy testing out some new features.

Here’s the lowdown:

Voice Clips status updates: Facebook is on a massive engagement drive at the moment, and it might have just come up with a clever new way to get people talking. The company is currently testing Voice Clips as status updates with a small percentage of users in India.

Trip Consideration optimisation: as well as the ability to target people who look likely to travel soon based on their website behaviour, you can now optimise conversion ads for people who plan to travel based on their actions on Facebook and Instagram.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 08.36.14

Photo cred: Marketing Land

Broadcast Composer: Facebook is expanding its test of Messenger broadcasts to select businesses in the US, Mexico and Thailand. This will enable pages to reach everyone who has previously initiated a conversation (or segments of that group) without having to pay to do so.

Event auto-creation: when you publish a post about an event, Facebook could soon automatically set up an official event for you. Handy.


5. Washington state fights for net neutrality with passing of new law

Now playing: I’m every woman, Whitney Houston

Okay, that’s it. This playlist is staying for the whole month.

Enough talk about March though, let’s jump back to December 2017, when the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality regulations in the US (put in place to protect internet equality).

In a nutshell, this means that internet service providers (ISPs) are free to manipulate people’s access to the internet however they want, as long as they declare it.

This, unbelievably, includes tactics such as blocking or slowing down connection speeds to certain content, increasing them to other content (that’s beneficial to them) and creating paid ‘fast lanes’.

For those with a couple of minutes to spare, here’s net neutrality perfectly explained by Burger King. I kid you not.

A petition to save net neutrality has reached nearly 2.5 million, and this week, Washington became the first state to pass a law in support of the cause – prohibiting ISPs from blocking legal content, apps and services; as well as paid prioritisation and the slowing down of connection speeds.

What’s really interesting is that the FCC actually prohibited state laws from contradicting the repeal decision, so what could happen next is a flurry of lawsuits against Washington state from ISPs.