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Creator Weekly: European Digital Markets act, YouTube Tips, Meet Video Effects

It’s finally starting to feel like the holidays are done and the new year has begun. I can’t believe we’re already three weeks into January!

This week there is news for European Google users, plus tips for YouTubers, updates for video calls, social media and more.

Top news and updates this week
  • European users get more choices on Google (thank the Digital Markets Act).
  • Tips for YouTubers to kick off 2024.
  • Twitch bans Drops farming.
  • Live streamers can apply for Live Studio access on TikTok.
  • Follow Bluesky profiles in your favorite RSS feed reader.
  • Check your privacy settings for X video and audio calls.
  • Google Meet lets you use combined AR and background effects and adjust your lighting and audio.
  • You can now join a Meet meeting anonymously from the Meet mobile app.
  • Gmail is making it easier to unsubscribe to bulk mailings.
  • There are interesting articles on the death of Ello, writing about OnlyFans as part of the creator economy, and Adobe and copyright.
Read on for details and additional updates!

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European Users Get More Choices on Google

If you are in Europe you should soon start to see some changes in Search and other Google products, as Google works to comply with the European Digital Markets Act, which goes into effect in March.

The services covered by the new policy include Google Play, Google Maps, Google Shopping, Google Search, YouTube, Android mobile, Google Chrome and Google’s advertising services.

The changes Google announced include:
  • Choose which of the affected Google services are linked and share data with each other. For example, if YouTube and Search are not linked services, you will get less personalized recommendations in the YouTube “What to watch” and Google “Discover” feeds. Note that this is not related to third party apps, just Google services within your account.
  • In the Google Search results page you will see more results from comparison sites when searching for something to buy, hotels or restaurants. Some features, like Google Flights, will be removed.
  • It will be easier to switch your default search engine or browser on Android or in Chrome.
  • In addition to data export with Google Takeout (which is available to everyone), Google is testing a Data Portability API for developers.
Google is making these changes because it has been designated one of six “Gatekeeper” companies.

The other companies affected are Amazon (Marketplace, Amazon ads), Apple (AppStore, iOS, Safari), ByteDance (TikTok), Meta (Facebook Marketplace, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Meta Ads), and Microsoft (LinkedIn, Windows). Expect more announcements of changes as the March deadline approaches.

Video Creator and Live Streaming Updates

Are you looking forward to trying YouTube’s thumbnail A/B testing tool? It’s still undergoing testing, and there’s no set launch date (yet). YouTube Creator Liaison Rene Richie wrote “[The testing] will continue until the team feels like the product is delivering what it needs to for creators, and then it’ll start moving into launch mode.”

Richie also shared some useful tips for thinking about how YouTube helps viewers find your videos and what to consider in making a compelling video (it’s not just the thumbnail). Combine that with the 6 suggested ways to grow your channel to inspire some experimentation. I’m using it to think about new things I’d like to try this year.

Watch this! A number of long-time YouTube creators have announced that they are stepping back, scaling down, or taking a break from creating. There has been a lot of discussion of why that is, and Marques Brownlee’s take (and octopus analogy) resonated with me. It’s worth watching even if you aren’t a YouTube creator, because I think there is a universal truth to feeling like you need to always be “growing”, which requires you to either take on more tasks you don’t enjoy or become a manager. Find your hearts.

YouTube is restructuring its creator management teams. Teams will be more localized, and there will be separate teams supporting creators and users/viewers. Despite about 100 roles being eliminated, YouTube expects to be able to support more creators this way.

Twitch has explicitly banned Drops farming. Tubefilter has an explainer, but basically games offer in-game rewards for watching related livestream content. The system can be gamed by creators who broadcast still images or rebroadcast old content instead of live game play. More from Twitch about Drops. Streamers who violate the policy could have content removed or their account suspended.

If you are a live streamer on any platform, you can apply for LIVE Studio access on TikTok. Previously 1000 followers were required. They say “your application will be evaluated based on the influence you have and the quality of your live content on other platforms."

Web Publishers and Search

John Mueller’s SEO Office Hours on the Google Search Central channel addressed the age-old question “What should I do with my old site?” when you launch a new website. The answer: clean up the old site, redirect the old site URLs to the new site for at least a year, and, if you can, remove the old site.

Social Media

You can now follow Bluesky profiles in your favorite RSS feed reader. The feed links are discoverable, which means you can enter the profile URL and feed reader apps should be able to find the feed for you.

X launched audio and video calls in the Android app. You need to be a paid subscriber to call someone, but non-subscribers can receive calls. Set who can call you in your X Settings > Privacy & Safety > Direct Messages. You can limit audio and video calls to people in your address book, people you follow and/or verified users.

If you are using X odds are pretty good that you have seen a post by Mr. Beast sharing a video he uploaded directly to the platform (link to reporting at Social Media Today). The management at X really wants this to be successful (“better than YouTube!”) and the video post has clearly been boosted. I’ve seen the post in my own feed multiple times. That is apparently because videos with pre-roll ads are boosted like an ad, automatically. It’s hard to know what the numbers mean, because a post view is counted every time someone scrolls past it (I’ve probably given it 10 “views” by doing that). More discussion at Mashable.

Read this! Do you remember Ello? It launched back in 2014 and was hyped as a Facebook-killer. It did find a niche among artists and designers. It died a quiet death in 2023. Andy Baio at took a look at its history, and how his own concern at the time it launched that it’s dependence on venture capital funding might cause its demise has played out. Read it here.

A downside to using Reddit, rather than a different forum platform is if a subreddit only has one moderator, and that mod is inactive for a few weeks, new mods can take over the community. Barry Schwarz reports on the r/SEO community being taken over by mods with new-ish accounts that also moderate crypto and investment communities.

More AI Updates

Read (or listen) to this! Nilay Patel at The Verge interviewed Adobe’s general counsel Dana Rao about their failed acquisition of Figma, European regulations, and, what I’m particularly interested in, AI and copyright. They are championing a sort of right to publicity combined with anti-impersonation laws that would protect the style of an artist. They have set up the Content Authenticity Initiative and are thinking about how deepfakes can be detected. It’s long, but interesting.

You can take a photo (or upload an image) to the Google mobile app to search and get an AI-powered answer with “multisearch”. Learn more.

Meta announced their long-term goals for AI: “our long term vision is to build general intelligence, open source it responsibly, and make it widely available so everyone can benefit.”

Communication and Collaboration

Gmail is making the Unsubscribe button more prominent on messages from bulk senders. They are also making clearer the difference between “Report Spam” and “Unsubscribe”, which should hopefully result in fewer legitimate mailers from being blacklisted because they were reported incorrectly as spam.

For more fun at meetings (or personal video calls) in Google Meet, you can now combine background effects with AR effects.

For a more professional look in Google Meet you can use Studio Lighting to adjust lighting position, brightness and color. Studio Sound automatically improves your audio. Both Studio Lighting and Sound require Google Workspace with Duet AI on eligible devices. (If you are signed up for Google Workspace Labs you can try out the less fancy AI-powered Studio Look to improve video quality.)

If you allow anonymous guests to join your Google Meet meeting, they can now join from the Meet mobile app. Previously it was not possible to use the app unless signed in to a Google Account.

Google Chat is enabling message starring in the mobile app. This was rolled out on desktop last fall. You can find all your starred messages from the Chat shortcuts (which include the Home feed and @mentions list).

WhatsApp Channels now have voice notes and polls to boost engagement.

More Reading

Flickr Commons is 16 years old. It is a huge collection of historical photos from over 100 cultural institutions in 24 countries. The images are shared as “no known copyright restrictions”, in part because the legal rights can be difficult to ascertain. Check out highlighted photos on Flickr Explore.

Music reviews site Pitchfork is being merged into GQ. Casey Newton writes about how platforms like Spotify killed Pitchfork.

Read this! Nieman Storyboard interviewed reporter Drew Harwell who wrote about OnlyFans and the creator economy for The Washington Post. That story is annotated with his comments, and I found it interesting how he framed the story to emphasize that it is a business and the storytelling decisions he made.

Google is launching Circle to Search on the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 on January 31. This lets you search for items or text in a photo or video (including Shorts) by circling or scribbling on the item. See how that will work.

That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get the January 13 edition here.

Image via Canva. Free for commercial use, no attribution required.