It’s been a busy week at SHIFT with a ton of product launches, candidate interviews, client visits and planning for our upcoming Summer Fun outing. But we still found time to stay current on the news. Here are some of the stories that our B2B tech teams have been talking about this week:

To block or not to block

Social media and the First Amendment were front and center this week, particularly in Washington, D.C., where the Trump Administration hosted a “social media summit,” designed to discuss the role social platforms play in society, but – ironically – without a single major social platform (aside from…). The Daily Beast reported the summit was a headache even before it began.

Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, two lawsuits may have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era. On one side, a federal appeals court ruled this week that President Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking his critics on Twitter. Because he uses the platform to conduct government business, the court ruled, he can’t exclude Americans from reading his posts just because he doesn’t agree with them.

Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing similar criticism; two lawsuits filed accuse her of blocking people on Twitter due to their opposing political stances. What’s interesting is that both politicians favor their personal Twitter accounts over their official government handles (which have significantly fewer followers) to discuss policy with the public. While the result of @AOC’s suit is still pending, the outcome of Trump’s case may be a harbinger.

Will the impact of these suits be felt in the private sector, where rules are different? It’s too early to tell, but Twitter has become a critical platform for consumer/brand engagement, the lengths to which free speech can be legally stretched is of paramount concern.

Instagram says be best

Earlier this week, Instagram rolled out new features to protect its users from bullying and harassment – and potentially prevent it from happening at all. The first to roll out is an AI-fueled filter trained to detect potentially offensive comments. When one is identified, a pop up asks, “Are you sure you want to post this?” and points the poster toward Instagram’s policy on offensive comments and bullying.

Still in the testing phase, the second feature will enable users to restrict other users from accessing their profiles. Once blocked, comments from that user will not be visible to the public. Blocked users also will not be able to know whether a user that has restricted him or her is online, or if the blockee has read a message from them.

Bullying and harassment are nothing new to Instagram – or to social media as a whole. And Instagram has for years attempted to address the issue by flagging offensive comments, filtering comments that denigrated the way a person looked or carried threats. “We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves,” Instagram’s Adam Mosseri stated in a blog post. “These tools are grounded in a deep understanding of how people bully each other and how they respond to bullying on Instagram, but they’re only two steps on a longer path.”

Snapchat adds creator shows

On Wednesday, Snap announced a new content series coming to Snapchat – Creator Shows – featuring a number of celebrities (Serena Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Hart) and influencers (Emma Chamberlain, Loren Grey and Rickey Thompson). Creator Shows will align along themes including beauty, fashion, gadgets and more, and will be three- to five-minute, first-person vertical videos, located on the Discover page.

Snapchat is the latest social network to sign partnerships with online influencers and their audiences. Instagram recently launched IGTV for the same purpose, and Facebook reportedly is developing a program that would allow its creators to monetize their video content.

Related pro tip

Does your company have a social media policy for employees? If not, check out SHIFT’s set of guidelines for employee participation on social platforms.

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