The Social Short 2020: Week 24

Computer-Generated Crowds to Revive Sports on TV

As sports gradually return to our TV screens after being brought to a sudden halt by the coronavirus pandemic, sports fans can’t help but notice that empty silent arenas are ruining the experience. But last week, La Liga, the Spanish football division, returned to action with a local game between Seville clubs Real Betis and Sevilla FC that felt real and exciting, despite the small live audience.

La Liga worked in collaboration with EA Sports, who piped in reactive crowd noises, while Norwegian broadcasting tech company Vizrt provided visuals to give the impression of a live audience. The first seats of the arena were blanketed with a visual effect, that if you’re looking at the pitch, gave the illusion of a 1990s FIFA game crowd. The computer-generated background noises shifted in volume with the action, adding an emotive layer to it and making the experience as genuine as can be in a COVID-19 recovering world.



(Image creds: The Verge)


WhatsApp Launches Payments

Since Monday, Brazilian users of the Facebook-owned instant messaging application WhatsApp can pay directly through the app, using Facebook pay. Payments are commission-free, except for businesses, who will need to pay a processing fee to receive payments. The new functionality is very user-friendly. It consists of linking your WhatsApp account to your credit or debit card and then paying through a PIN, fingertip or face recognition.

The messaging service has been used informally for commercial purposes since day one. With the launch of WhatsApp Business, which links businesses’ Facebook pages to their WhatsApp accounts, and now with payments, the platform is taking a true commercial plunge.

The payment functionality is being tested in Brazil first and will be rolled out internationally, to eventually become available to 2 billion users worldwide.



(Image creds: TechCrunch)


EU Urges Tech Giants to Report Coronavirus Fake News

 The European Union has officially requested that US tech giants provide monthly reports containing ‘detailed data’ on the way that they are fighting fake news related to the coronavirus on their platforms.

The EU wants to ensure that misinformation surrounding the virus doesn’t prolong the pandemic. The anti-vaccine movement is particularly worrying, as it has an outsized influence online and could hinder the efforts of the states to reopen if and when a Covid-19 vaccine emerges.

While the EU cannot legally require tech giants to comply, the usual suspects, Google, Facebook and Twitter, have officially announced their willingness to cooperate. “We’re committed to the Code of Practice and to our work together to find new and creative ways to continue the fight against disinformation,” says Matt Brittin, president of Google EMEA.



(Image creds: BBC News)


Snapchat To Revamp Its Navigation

At its Snap Partner Summit last week, Snapchat announced a new and simplified design for an enhanced user experience. The new navigation takes the form of an action bar at the bottom with good old icons to navigate different parts of the app. These include Snap Map, DMs, a clearer posting interface, the old ‘Discover tab’ now called ‘Stories’, and a new banner called ‘Happening Now’ with a curated selection of stories based on your interests.



Snap Map allows users to view the location of their friends (those who enabled it) in real-time and helps find local businesses. Not only are the new map functionalities positioning Snapchat as a serious competitor of Google Maps, but it’s also opening up new advertising revenue opportunities for the platform.



The new navigation is meant to simplify the user experience and make sure the most popular features are visible. It’s less elegant than the seamless swiping, but it gains in efficiency. With it, the social network is hoping to make the app attractive to more users.


(Images creds: TechCrunch)


Finally, for our previous #SocialShort, click here.