How the Facebook babies became the TikTok teens

As Facebook turns 20, the babies who once pervaded its news feed barely use the platform now.
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Updated 02 February 2024

How the Facebook babies became the TikTok teens

  • As Facebook turns 20, so are many of the toddlers who pervaded its news feed

DUBAI: “My parents like photography and when the digital age came, they shifted from photobooks to Facebook,” 23-year-old Dubai resident Alexandra Morata told Arab News.

Morata, like many her age and younger, grew up to find out that their parents had been posting pictures of them — including of their awkward teenage years — on Facebook.

The phenomenon was so common that there is a term for it: sharenting.

A paper written by child development experts defines sharenting as “the practice of parents, caregivers or relatives sharing information about their children (underage) online, typically on some online platforms.”

A massive 80 percent of children had an online presence before they were 2 years old, according to a 2010 study by online security firm AVG.

The presence of baby pictures on the news feed was seemingly so pervasive that in 2013 a browser extension called was created to auto-detect baby images and replace them with others, including of cats.

As Facebook turns 20, the babies who once pervaded its news feed barely use the platform now.

Teenagers spent nearly two hours on TikTok every day, compared to just one minute on Facebook and 16 minutes on Instagram, according to a 2022 study.

Morata and Aily Prasetyo, 24, both said they have shifted to other platforms like Instagram and TikTok partly due to their friends not being on Facebook anymore, and also because “Facebook was so populated with … old people,” said Prasetyo.

“Facebook is a platform for millennials and baby boomers while TikTok is more for a younger audience and is known for its emphasis on authentic videos rather than ones that are overly sales oriented,” Nimrah Khan, founder of digital marketing agency Kollab Digital, told Arab News.

Those considered Generation Z are overwhelmingly embracing TikTok. It was the top platform of choice for Gen Zs overtaking YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, according to a study last year by research firm YPulse.

Globally, seven of the top 10 countries for TikTok, by reach, are in the Middle East North Africa region, according to “Social Media in the Middle East 2022: A Year in Review” published by the University of Oregon-UNESCO Crossings Institute.

TikTok even overtook online giant Google in 2021 as the most popular website of the year, according to internet security company Cloudflare.

Khan has a warning though: “TikTok’s algorithmic recommendations can expose users, including teenagers, to inappropriate content or potential privacy risks based on their browsing history and interactions on the platform.”

Still, many youngsters remain open to sharing their lives online because they, in large part, understand the security risks of living a digital life.

Morata, for example, said that she does not have any privacy concerns around the pictures her parents shared of her childhood because they had private profiles. The conversations around online safety have made her more aware of the risks, and so, she is careful with her accounts, she added.

Social media “can be detrimental to mental health,” but it has become such a common topic of conversation that most older teens are aware of what is fake and what is not, especially as influencers have started becoming more authentic, said Prasetyo.

Despite that awareness, social media platforms can have dangerous effects on youngsters’ mental health.

Cam Barrett, who is now in her early twenties had her personal life — from bath photos to the fact that she was adopted — shared publicly on Facebook by her mother. It is a habit she inculcated too, sharing much of her life publicly, when she opened a Twitter account, she told The Atlantic.

But last year, Barrett was among the people who advocated for children’s internet privacy.

“Today is the first time that I’ve introduced myself with my legal name in three years because I’m terrified to share my name because the digital footprint I had no control over ... exists,” she said testifying in front of the Washington State House last year.

The testimony was to support a bill that aims to ensure that children who are heavily featured in influencers’ online content have a right to financial compensation for their work and to maintain their privacy.

“I know firsthand what it’s like to not have a choice in the digital footprint you didn’t create that follows you around for the rest of your life with no option for it to be removed,” Barrett said.

The bill is the brainchild of Chris McCarty, a student at the University of Washington, who was inspired by the 2020 case of Huxley Stauffer, a toddler with special needs adopted from China by family vloggers Myka and James Stauffer.

The couple made and monetized extensive content about Huxley and his adoption, before giving him up because they realized they were not equipped to take care of him.

In 2021, whistleblower and former product manager at Facebook, Frances Haugen, leaked thousands of internal documents detailing how the company knew its apps helped spread divisive content and harmed the mental health of some young users.

Top bosses from all major social media companies have been called on for answers by lawmakers around the world.

On Wednesday this week, CEOs from Meta, TikTok, and other companies were grilled by US lawmakers over the dangers that children and teens face using social media platforms.

“They’re responsible for many of the dangers our children face online,” said US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and chair of the committee, during his opening remarks.

He added: “Their design choices, their failures to adequately invest in trust and safety, their constant pursuit of engagement and profit over basic safety have all put our kids and grandkids at risk.”

The hearing marked TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s second appearance before the US Congress, since March 2023, when he was questioned about the growing influence of TikTok on young people’s mental health, among other concerns.


Dutch prosecutors studying complaint against’s Israeli settlement listings

Updated 59 min 33 sec ago

Dutch prosecutors studying complaint against’s Israeli settlement listings

AMSTERDAM: Dutch prosecutors are looking into a criminal complaint against over its listing of rental properties in Israeli settlements, they said on Thursday.
Dutch non-profit organization SOMO said it had filed the complaint with the Dutch public prosecutor in November, together with three other human rights groups, but had not gone public with it before.
In their complaint the groups accuse of “profiting from war crimes by facilitating the rental of vacation homes on land stolen from the indigenous Palestinian population.”
Prosecutors were studying the complaint, but could not give a timeline for a decision on possible further steps, spokesperson Brechje van de Moosdijk said.
Booking in a response said it disagreed with the allegations and that there are no laws prohibiting listings in Israeli settlements, while a range of US state laws would prohibit divesting from the region.
“Legal action has been taken against other companies that have tried to withdraw their activities, and we would expect the same to happen in our case,” a spokesperson for the company said.
SOMO said its research had shown that Booking’s platform offered up to 70 listings for properties in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank between 2021 and 2023.
It argued that revenues acquired from renting out those properties are “proceeds of criminal activities,” and that by booking these proceeds in the Netherlands the company is violating Dutch anti-money laundering rules.
The settlements built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war are deemed illegal by most countries, including the Netherlands. Their presence is one of the fundamental issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians seek to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as their capital. Israeli settlers cite Jewish historic connections to the land.

News Corp. makes deal to let OpenAI use its content

Updated 23 May 2024

News Corp. makes deal to let OpenAI use its content

  • ChatGPT’s creator is also in the process of signing content licensing agreements with media outlets

NEW YORK: News Corp. on Wednesday announced a deal to let ChatGPT-maker OpenAI use content from its publications in artificial intelligence products.
OpenAI will get access to current and archived content from News Corp. properties including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, and The New York Post, according to a joint release.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal cited sources close to the company as saying it was valued at more than $250 million over five years and included credits for News Corp. using OpenAI technology.
Authors, artists, and news groups have been accusing OpenAI and its rivals in the generative artificial intelligence market of using copyrighted content for training models without asking permission or paying.
Generative AI models are trained on mountains of data in the effort to get software to think the way people do.
“This landmark accord is not an end, but the beginning of a beautiful friendship in which we are jointly committed to creating and delivering insight and integrity instantaneously,” News Corp. chief executive Robert Thomson said.
OpenAI gets permission to display News Corp. content in response to queries by users of its technology, according to terms of the deal.
“Our partnership with News Corp. is a proud moment for journalism and technology,” Open AI CEO Sam Altman said in the release.
“Together, we are setting the foundation for a future where AI deeply respects, enhances, and upholds the standards of world-class journalism.”
ChatGPT’s creator is also in the process of signing content licensing agreements with media outlets — including the Associated Press, Germany’s Axel Springer Group (publisher of tabloid Bild), French daily Le Monde and Spanish conglomerate Prisa Media — to enrich its models.
The announcement of the agreement with News Corp. comes on the heels of a new controversy, after actress Scarlett Johansson accused OpenAI of copying her voice for a new voice assistant without her permission.
Altman has apologized and announced the suspension of the voice, called “Sky.”

Antisemitism group posts fake news about politician after Ireland recognizes Palestinian state

Updated 23 May 2024

Antisemitism group posts fake news about politician after Ireland recognizes Palestinian state

  • Stop Antisemitism puts message on X claiming Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin’s daughter was kidnapped and raped in Gaza on Oct. 7; later admits this ‘did not actually occur’
  • Blatant disinformation outrages users; some suggest such posts only provoke antisemitism, others say comments about rape should not be made lightly

DUBAI: US-based organization Stop Antisemitism posted a message on social media platform X on Wednesday that appeared to state Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin’s daughter, Aoibhe Martin, had been kidnapped and raped by Hamas in Gaza on Oct. 7 and that now “he is rewarding his daughter’s rapists with a state of their own.”

The organization added another post, more than an hour later, in which it said the initial post “is for illustrative purposes only” and the events it described “did not actually occur.”



The blatant use of disinformation outraged many X users, with some suggesting that such posts serve only to increase incidents of antisemitism. Others said comments about rape should not be made lightly and that there was nothing “illustrative” about the post.


Critics say that disinformation and fake news has greatly increased on X since Elon Musk bought the platform in April 2022. In the past two years, the company has shed thousands of jobs, many of them related to content moderation.

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova last year accused X of being the social media platform with the highest ratio of fake news, and urged Musk to comply with EU laws designed to combat disinformation.

In April, X’s own artificial intelligence chatbot Grok generated a fake headline that stated: “Iran Strikes Tel Aviv with Heavy Missiles.” It was promoted on the main X feed.

In the 48 hours following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, misinformation was rampant on the platform. One video that claimed to show Israeli generals captured by a Hamas fighter was actually footage of separatists detained in Azerbaijan. Another clip showing an airplane being shot down was accompanied by the hashtag #PalestineUnderAttack when it was really footage taken from the video game Arma 3. The former video was viewed more than 1.7 million times in two days, the latter more than 500,000 times.

Earlier on Wednesday, Martin had announced in a video message posted on X that the Irish government will formally recognize the State of Palestine on May 28.

“The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, peace, dignity and statehood must be vindicated,” he added. “It is our conviction that the two-state solution remains the only viable option to secure a just and lasting peace that fulfills these rights for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

He added that recognition of Palestine as a state did not mean the legitimization of Hamas.

“Recognition does not involve recognition of a government, it’s recognition of a state,” he told Irish radio program The Pat Kenny Show.

Martin had not responded to Stop Antisemitism’s post on X at the time of writing.

Spotify spotlights Khaleeji music in New York’s Times Square

Updated 23 May 2024

Spotify spotlights Khaleeji music in New York’s Times Square

  • Saudi artist Sultan Al-Murshed and Iraqi artist Aseel Hameem have been selected as Spotify’s RADAR Arabia and EQUAL Arabia artists for May

DUBAI: Spotify is spotlighting Saudi artist Sultan Al-Murshed and Iraqi artist Aseel Hameem, who have been selected as Spotify’s RADAR Arabia and EQUAL Arabia artists for May, in New York’s Times Square.

“We continue to be committed to showcasing and celebrating genres and creators reflecting different spectrums of Arabic music,” said Nada Elmeri, Spotify’s Artist and Label Partnerships Manager for the Gulf Region at Spotify MENA.

This month was dedicated to celebrating Khaleeji Pop — a genre “that has played a pivotal role in our childhood memories yet continues to resonate with young listeners and is met with a lot of loyalty from fans across different generations,” Elmeri told Arab News.

Al-Murshed, a rising star from Saudi Arabia, was selected as this month’s RADAR Arabia artist for winning listeners over with his melodies and vocals.

His debut single “Wala Ghaltah,” released in 2022, has amassed over 1 million streams on Spotify. Over the last month or so, his streams have increased by 73 percent and fans have saved his music 97 percent more over the same period.

He also worked with renowned DJ and producer R3HAB and Big Bo in 2022 for the official Gamers8 anthem, “Challenge.”

This month’s EQUAL Arabia artist is Aseel Hameem, daughter of renowned Iraqi musician Kareem Hameem, who began her musical journey when she was a young girl. Her talent was evident quickly garnering her the nickname “The Guitar of Iraq.”

Despite her Iraqi roots, Hameem has mastered singing in the Saudi and Khaleeji dialects, gaining substantial support in Saudi Arabia. Her most popular hits include “Shkad Helw” and “Al Mafrod” with the latter garnering over 14 million streams on Spotify.

Her latest release, “Mostafz Alnas,” has resonated with audiences in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Germany, and the US, Spotify said.

Throughout May, Spotify is running a promotional campaign to boost Hameem’s work including editorial placements and social media support.

Both Al-Murshed and Hameem were featured on a billboard in New York City’s Times Square as well as on the covers of the RADAR Arabia and EQUAL Arabia playlists on Spotify this month.

“To spotlight the (Khaleeji Pop) genre in an impactful way, we featured two Khaleeji artists across different career journeys,” said Elmeri.

Al-Murshed “represents the new wave of the genre” while Hameem “has been a force over the years with her presence visible on our Saudi Wrapped lists,” she added.

RADAR Arabia and EQUAL Arabia are Spotify’s global music programs aimed at supporting emerging artists and female artists respectively.

Advocacy groups make fresh appeal to ICJ to allow international media access to Gaza

Updated 23 May 2024

Advocacy groups make fresh appeal to ICJ to allow international media access to Gaza

  • Foreign journalists have been prevented from entering Gaza since beginning of the conflict, except under Israeli army supervision
  • Group of nine signatories issued statement in support of South Africa’s request arguing ban could hamper future accountability

LONDON: Media advocacy groups have made a fresh appeal to the International Court of Justice to allow unimpeded media access to Gaza.

The request, signed by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, ARTICLE 19, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, and five other media advocacy groups, was made following South Africa’s demand for the court to order Israel to facilitate access for international journalists to the Gaza Strip.

“Despite the valiant efforts of Palestinian journalists who continue reporting despite a daily struggle to survive, Israel’s censorious actions make it nearly impossible to comprehensively, continuously and independently document what is happening on the ground in Gaza and risk significantly hampering future accountability efforts,” the signatories said in a statement issued in support of South Africa’s demand.

The statement noted that journalists, independent human rights investigators, fact-finding missions, and the International Criminal Court still do not have access to Gaza, prohibiting the effective preservation and retention of evidence of potential war crimes. 

The signatories highlighted recent media suppression by Israeli authorities towards Al Jazeera in May and the Associated Press this week, coupled with the conditions under which local journalists operate, making unrestricted media access to the Gaza Strip ever more “urgent and vital.”

CPJ Director of Advocacy and Communications Gypsy Guillen Kaiser said in a statement: “Any censorship of developments in Gaza creates an information void ripe for propaganda and mis- and disinformation that has consequences for public accountability and people’s lives.”

Since the beginning of the conflict, Israeli authorities have implemented a near-total ban on foreign media entering Gaza.

Despite repeated appeals, only a few exceptions have been made for certain networks and journalists, and even then, only under the direct supervision of the Israeli military.

Experts argue that this approach has forced international media to rely heavily on overburdened Palestinian journalists and risk significantly hampering future accountability efforts.

“Journalists have historically played a critical role in contemporaneously investigating and preserving the evidence of war crimes in genocides and other atrocities,” read the letter, adding that in January, the ICJ issued an order to Israel requesting authorities to “take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts.

“Israel’s continuing assault on journalists, freedom of expression and people’s right to access information violates international human rights and humanitarian law,” added ARTICLE 19 Senior Director for Law and Policy Barbora Bukovska.

“It defies the ICJ’s January order for evidence to be preserved as the conflict continues and will hinder accountability efforts. It is therefore vital that the ICJ is crystal clear this time around that Israel’s actions must stop.”