Five on Friday: Subpoenas, Social Media and the Supreme Court

Featuring Google, Facebook, Twitter, PYMNTS, Recurly and Zenesys

As we wrap up the first week of Subscription Show, we continue our editorial coverage of the latest subscription and payments news. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, a Senate panel votes to subpoena the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and PYMNTS reports on the latest subscription trends. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on possible changes to media ownership restrictions, Twitter warns users to read articles and tweets before retweeting, and Zenesys shares the best times to post to social media in a handy infographic.

Senate Commerce Committee Votes to Subpoena CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee voted to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter regarding the liability immunity they have from being sued over user posts, reports Politico. The committee was referring to the protection provided by the 1996 Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, which protects internet platforms and gives them a broad berth with which to monitor content.

Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, “I fear that Section 230’s sweeping liability protections for Big Tech are stifling the true diversity of political discourse on the internet.”

Wicker also said this is not a partisan issue, though senators from several jurisdictions were opposed to the timing. Several, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), said they felt the hearing requesting the subpoenas should have waited until after the election.  

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“On the eve of a momentous and highly charged election, it is imperative that this committee of jurisdiction and the American people receive a full accounting from the heads of these companies about their content moderation practices,” Wicker said.

This issue comes at the same time the House Judiciary Committee released its findings of a 16-month antitrust investigation into the actions of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, keeping tech giants in the hotseat. The federal government has a bone to pick with the successful tech companies, and it is becoming part of some candidates’ political platforms.

PYMNTS: COVID’s Impact on Subscription Trends

In a joint report, PYMTS and Recurly share consumer subscription trends through the pandemic. The 19-page report shares key findings, the impact of the pandemic on consumer employment and the effect of COVID-19 on subscription services. Here are highlights for the report’s key findings:

  • 22% of consumers have signed up for new streaming services since the start of the pandemic.
  • 62.7% of streaming subscribers are using those services more than they did prior to COVID-19.
  • The subscription industry has added 15 million subscribers and 96 million subscriptions since late February/early March.
  • As of July, the average consumer has 2.9 subscriptions compared to 2.6 in February.
  • Education subscriptions have doubled from 10 million to 20 million between February and July.
  • Digital media subscriptions increased from 10 million to 25 million during the same time period.
  • Free trials remain popular customer acquisition strategies. They are most successful when the free trial period is a month long, particularly for retail products, digital media and streaming services.
  • 31% of customers on free trials are likely to become paid subscribers at the end of the free trial.
  • Some subscription companies have offered the option to pause subscriptions during the pandemic. This could improve retention once the pandemic is over.

For more specific details and research insights, visit PYMNTS.com to request a copy of the free report.

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Twitter’s “Retweet Responsibly” Campaign Sees Success

In June, we reported that Twitter was testing a reminder to users to read articles before retweeting them. Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey asked his 4.7 million followers if they’d read the article they had planned to share with their followers. The test met with mixed reactions from users, but Twitter is moving ahead with its plans.

“We wanted to test a way to improve the health of a conversation as it gets started. And to see if reminding people to read an article before they share it leads to a more informed discussion,” Twitter’s support team said.

TechCrunch reports that the Twitter experiment worked so well that the social media platform wants to roll it out to all users “very soon.” According to Twitter, users opened articles before retweeting them 40% more often when seeing the prompt, 33% more people are opening articles before sharing them, and some people who read the articles didn’t share them after reading them. The goal for this particular test is to have better informed discussions and less sharing of questionable material.

“It’s easy for articles to go viral on Twitter. At times, this can be great for sharing information, but can also be detrimental for discourse, especially if people haven’t read what they’re Tweeting,” Twitter Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie said.

A month away from the presidential election, this seems like a good time to roll out such a feature across the social media site. While Twitter – nor its users – can never stop the spread of misinformation or disinformation, trying to have a positive impact is at least noble.

Social media platform Twitter wants users to retweet responsibly.
Social media platform Twitter wants users to retweet responsibly. Image: Twitter

Supreme Court to Weigh In on Relevance of Media Ownership Restrictions

Two related cases – National Association of Broadcasters v. Prometheus Radio Project and Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project – are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The cases challenge a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that blocked FCC changes to media ownership rules that are part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In question are rules about not allowing cross ownership of TV stations and newspapers or TV and radio stations in the new market. The FCC argues the internet has made those rules obsolete.

“The court’s decisions have frozen in place decades-old ownership restrictions that have long outlived their competitive usefulness in light of dramatic upheavals in the media markets,” wrote the U.S. Solicitor General in the FCC’s petition to the Supreme Court.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, the FCC has modified or eliminated a number of rules about media ownership restrictions, but the 3rd Circuit vacated those changes. The Prometheus Radio Project, a nonprofit that advocates for community radio stations, wants the Supreme Court to stay out of the matter and let the 3rd Circuit’s ruling stand. The Supreme Court added the matter to its current term which began last week.

The Best Times to Post to Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & YouTube

Whether you are promoting your company’s auto-ship pet supply options or the latest monthly subscription box, social media is one of the best ways to promote your subscription products. But you can’t just slap up random posts and hope they stick. You need to be strategic about the platforms you use, your target audience, imagery, content and, of course, timing. To help take the mystery out of when to post and where, Zenesys has shared this wonderful infographic.

For example, Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays are the best days to post to Instagram, and the best times are during the 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. lunch hour and after work between 7 and 9 p.m. On Facebook, you’ll want to skip Tuesdays, and Saturdays and Sundays are a “no go” on LinkedIn. Thank you to Zenesys for permission to reprint this great infographic.

Zenesys shares the best times to post on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
The best times to post on social media reprinted with permission from Zenesys. Original available here: https://www.zenesys.com/infographics/the-best-time-to-post-on-social-media