Twitter’s rebrand to X largely criticised
YouTube is trialling AI-backed video summaries
The UK’s financial sector launches #ReachOut campaign
YouTube trials new AI feature: video summaries
YouTube has launched a new feature for a limited number of English-language videos: AI-powered video summaries.
YouTube is keen to point out that while the tool will be useful in summarising videos and helping viewers decide whether or not to click and view, they do not replace the video descriptions that uploaders draft themselves.
The feature is one of several AI-backed video summary tools that exist, though feedback on the accuracy of these video summary tools, including Clipnote and Scrivvy, has been mixed.
AI portrait generator app takes China by storm
The latest app to trend in China is Miaoya, a portrait generator that creates beautified avatars in different styles.
Users can upload 20 images of themselves and receive dozens of portraits, such as identification photos, traditional costume photos, Japanese-style campus-themed portraits and gown portraits generated by the app’s artificial intelligence.
Unprecedented consumer demand has overloaded servers, with some users waiting more than 24 hours for their portrait.
Privacy, however, remains an issue. The app’s original privacy agreement stated it could use the content “in any form, in any media or technology (now and in the future)”. However, the company later changed the agreement, saying that photos would only be used to create a digital image of the user.
Multiple generative AI apps have been removed from Apple’s China App Store, two weeks ahead of the country announcing new generative AI regulations set to take effect on August 15.
UK’s banking and finance trade association launches £5m #ReachOut campaign
UK Finance, the lobbying association for Britain’s banking and finance sector, will launch a £5m advertising campaign across out-of-home, TV, digital and radio to encourage Britons struggling with mortgage repayments to ‘reach out’ to their lenders.
The campaign launch comes off the back of a mortgage agreement between major lenders and the UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, aimed at helping struggling borrowers and coincides with increased public pressure on banks over increased mortgage rates.
Whilst ‘#ReachOut’ remains the key message from banks, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced criticism on Twitter and in the media this week after telling a caller on broadcast channel LBC who was struggling with mortgage payments to “talk to [their] bank” – indicating the campaign is not likely to insulate the PM from criticism that he’s not doing enough to solve the problem.
Twitter’s rebrand to X off to a bumpy start
On 23 July, Elon Musk cryptically announced that Twitter will be rebranding soon. What followed was a process as confusing as the preceding changes at the company following Musk’s acquisition.
The website still bears mentions of Twitter, not least the twitter.com domain name, and has maintained the identifiable blue colour scheme throughout.
An announced redirect from x.com to twitter.com also didn’t work as expected, while Apple initially declined renaming the app in its App Store from Twitter to X, as it didn’t meet minimum length requirements for names.
The chaotic rebrand follows an earlier move by Musk that saw Twitter placed under ownership of X Corp, and has been positioned as part of his ambitions to transform the social network into an everything app.
And it’s not just chaotic online: last week, the company was forced to remove a giant illuminated X on its San Francisco HQ after neighbour complaints.
Ye’s back…on Twitter
Twitter/X is stirring up more controversy as usual: the platform has lifted its ban on Kanye West, who has formally changed his name to Ye.
In late 2022, Ye was formally banned from Twitter after a sustained period of posting antisemitic content and conspiracies, prompting Elon Musk to tweet at the time: “I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”
It’s unclear why Ye has been allowed back on the platform as the company has not commented publicly.
Ye’s Twitter account currently has 31.6m followers but no tweets. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago and has spoken publicly about his mental health challenges.
New digital cross-border payments system in Southeast Asia heralds economic unity
Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand have introduced a cross-border payments system that aims to increase economic unity across the region.
Residents can now pay for goods and services in each other's countries using local currencies via a QR code-based system. The ambitious scheme will support a range of economic activities including cross-border trade settlements, investment, and remittance.
At the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in May, regional leaders pledged to expand regional payment links to all ten ASEAN members. Greater connectivity is considered crucial to reducing the region's reliance on external currencies like the U.S. dollar for cross-border transactions.
The move is expected to benefit micro enterprises, SMEs, and the ‘unbanked’ population. An anticipated rise in consumer spending could in turn strengthen tourism, it has been predicted.
YouTube Shorts adds new features in attempt to compete with TikTok
YouTube has introduced new creation tools for Shorts, its short-form video platform, to better compete with TikTok. These include options for remixing, effects, stickers, live streaming, and more.
A new "Collab" tool lets creators make split-screen Shorts with other YouTube videos or Shorts, making it easier to jump on trends and remix content.
A Q&A sticker allows creators to interact with their audience through comments. Creators can also reply to comments with Short videos.
YouTube is testing inserting live streams into the main Shorts feed, similar to TikTok. This could help live creators get discovered and open up monetisation.
Other new features aim to inspire creators by bundling audio, effects, and playlists. YouTube is also developing tools to turn horizontal videos into vertical Shorts more easily.
Shorts has seen rapid growth, with 2.5 billion logged-in monthly users now. YouTube is focused on improving creation tools and watch time to better compete with rivals like TikTok.
BBC joins Mastodon, making it the most prominent organisation to join
This distributed social network is seen as more aligned with the BBC's public service mission than centralised platforms like Twitter/X, however the platform remains a small player.
The move comes amid uncertainty about Twitter/X’s future viability for media organisations under Elon Musk's ownership. Musk has been critical of public broadcasters, and Twitter/X has previously mislabelled the BBC as state-owned media.
The experiment will run for 6 months after which the BBC will decide if it will continue investing in a fediverse presence.
With Mastodon, the BBC joins a network used by about 2 million active monthly users, however the network has yet to take off as a major contender to Twitter/X. This being said, with continued chaos at the social media giant and with Threads’ impact still unclear, there may still be room in this space for another social network.