This Week in Social Media: 12/17-12/21

This week in social mediaWith online developments occurring everyday, social media and its application is constantly evolving. To help you stay up to date with the growing number of updates in the social media world, we’ve selected 5 things to keep an eye on this week in social media:

1. Instagram New Privacy Settings

Since Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram in April 2012, little has been done to merge the two social networks. Announced earlier this week, however, Instagram will adopt some of Facebook’s terms of service in their updated 2013 terms of use. The most troubling part of the new Terms of Use, effective January 16, is the following:

To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.

Put bluntly by BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan, you’re officially for sale on Instagram: “In a larger sense, Instagram (or Facebook on behalf of Instagram) has asked for, and effectively given itself, free reign to do with your data as it pleases, into perpetuity. Wisely, it did so at a time when Instagram still feels small and personal. A time when people still trusted it. There’s an adage that’s basically a cliche in tech now: If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

Instagram later released a statement clarifying concerns, stating, “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.” You can read the full statement here.

2. Facebook Launches “Nearby”

While Facebook has been dominating the social media market since it’s launch back in 2004, it has yet to catch up to Foursquare and Yelp when it comes to location-based check-ins and reviews. That might change after Facebook’s announcement of “Nearly.” As reported by Forbes,

Facebook has had the ability for people to check-in to locations for some time, but has not made all the data that it has been gathering available to users until now.

People on Facebook can also now rate the businesses on a five star rating system or Like the business. Facebook says the recommendations of nearby businesses will become more personalized over time as people (and their friends) rate, recommend and check-in to places.

3. Google+ iOS App Now Supports Google+ Communities 

If you’re not as active on Google+ as you are on Facebook or Twitter, you’re not alone. But the new Google+ Community feature on Google+ has the potential to connect vast audiences with other, like-minded online users, something that was previously missing from the relatively new social network. Released yesterday, this feature is now compatible with your iPhone, as Google+ releases version 4.1 of Google+ for iOS. What makes this version different? CNET reports,

You can find communities devoted to your own interests, read posts from fellow members, and post your own comments.

You can now subscribe to any circle from your iPhone or iPad and receive notifications of updates and other items. Those of you who stage Google+ events can now indicate how many guests you’ve invited.

4. Twitter Passes 200M Monthly Active Users

Exciting news for the world’s second largest social network, Twitter, as it has reportedly passed the 200 million monthly active user mark.

Techcrunch reports, that’s “an increase of 60 million from the 140 million milestone it shared back in March. That represents a 42 percent increase in the size of its active user base in under a year, pretty impressive growth for an already popular service.”

5. Google+ Testing New Search Bar

After acquiring the messaging service Meebo in June, signs of Google putting it to use have appeared around the web. Mashable reports,

Google is testing a social side bar on certain websites, allowing users to chat directly on the page and opening up the stage for a bigger advertising stream.

TVGuide.com is among the first websites to tout the new social bar, according toTheNextWeb. Notifications and sharing options — such as posting to Google+ — are positioned to the right, while the left is dedicated to page content.

What are we missing? Share your social media picks in the comments below!