Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed:
the big news of the week is the Trump Administration may order Bytedance to sell TikTok, with Microsoft rumored to be interested in acquiring the company. Although a deal is on hold pending clarity on the White House position on a Microsoft-TikTok acquisition. It’s reported TikTok is valued at US$50B.
- twitter is surveying random users to gauge interest on potential features of a twitter subscription plan. Ideas include custom colors, social listening tools, to an ad-free twitter experience.
- Facebook’s NPE team has a new experiment called e.gg. It’s currently available via invitation, and it’s web-only. e.gg’s about page claims it’s a throwback to the earlier days of the internet. e.gg has already been hit with concerns about intellectual property infringement.
- off the back of the news last week about the TikTok US creator fund, TikTok Europe has launched a creator fund. The TikTok European creator fund is valued at £54million or approx US$70MM.
- the battle for TikTok creators is heating up, though, with reports that Facebook is paying TikTok creators to encourage them to move to Instagram Reels.
- Facebook is officially launching music videos on the platform in the US only this weekend. The content has been licensed from all of the major labels.
- Alphabet (Google’s parent company) Q2 overall revenue came in at US$31.6B (PDF link). Alphabet’s total revenue was actually down YoY, for the first time, by 2% YouTube revenue came in at US$3.81B.
- Q2 Earnings for Facebook saw ad revenue grow to US$18.7B. Monthly and Daily Active User Numbers increased (PDF link) in all markets. The earnings call did reference the boycott (PDF link, pp20), but in a follow-up call (PDF link, pp 6-7), the company downplayed the impact and emphasized the relatively small contribution of AdAge 100 advertisers to revenues.
- Amazon’s Q2 earnings show advertising revenue (reported as other in the results PDF link)) came in at about US$4.2B (up 41%).
- the Q2 earnings of Pinterest saw revenue grow to US$272MM. The big news is Monthly Active Users grew 39% (PDF link) YoY to 416MM. Driven, in part, by people seeking inspiration during the peak of COVID lockdowns.
- as part of Comcast’s Q2 earnings report, PeacockTV numbers were shared, with the company reporting 10MM sign-ups (PDF link) There are no details on how this splits between free and paid tiers or those who get it for free as part of Xfinity.
The House Judiciary Committee into “Online Platforms and Market Power” held their hearing on Wednesday. If you want to watch the full 5.5hour hearing, it’s available on YouTube. It’s worth watching or at least reading the opening statement for the Chair, David Cicilline, that aimed to set the tone of the hearing.
Each participating company issued prepared remarks. Politico has each of them available (they’re also available as PDF’s on the hearing website).
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s opening statement
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ opening statement
- Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai’s opening statement
- Apple CEO Tim Cook’s opening statement
TikTok, who was not part of the hearing, issued a statement of their own from their US CEO, Kevin Mayer, calling for algorithmic transparency, the importance of innovation, and stating that TikTok had no political agenda.
The hearing itself did meander between serious concerns about competition with allegations about platform bias and censorship. Broadly though, there was evidence of research and understanding of the issues. Pramila Jayapal asked some probing questions of Amazon. If you’re interested, some of the exhibits the Committee has been able to obtain from the companies and shared (scroll down the page) make for good reading such as this one on the Instagram acquisition (PDF link). As CNBC notes, Congress has the goods on each of the platforms.
Finally, because covering this topic would take a whole newsletter, if you want a good overview of the hearing, Casey Newton has a great write up.
FACEBOOK AD BOYCOTT
- as July comes to an end, there’s a great chart from LumaPartners that helps visualize the number of ad boycott participants.
- there were expectations that the antitrust hearings would touch on the ad boycott, but that didn’t play out in a meaningful way.
- the boycott organizers have noted that while Facebook made some concessions, there is work to be done and that it is their expectation is that the boycott will evolve into a movement. They also ran an ad in the LA Times outlining their closing thoughts.
- Facebook published what steps they are taking in response to the boycott. This PDF document from Facebook is the most useful, with pp5 detailing a timeline of what Facebook will do and, in their own words, be held accountable for delivering.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- a bipartisan coalition of Senators has written to the FTC seeking a privacy investigation (PDF link) into allegations of “widespread privacy violations by companies in the advertising technology (adtech) industries”.
- twitter released more details on the security incident and how the attack was performed (allegedly masterminded by a 17-year-old from Florida). The whole twitter incident is a reminder of how important it is to do anti-phishing training and treat every link with a heavy dose of skepticism.
- if you still trust me, I promise I won’t do that to you again…
- twitter has updated its policy on how it treats external links. This includes warning notices on links that violate twitter policies, potentially blocking links, to suspension of accounts that link to objectionable content.
- the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and JICWEBS (the UK Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards) have agreed to merge.
Stay safe and have a great week.
PS. NASA is taking registrations to send your name to Mars for 2026, sign up here.