The Youth Lab


In this week’s 52INSIGHTS, we’re taking a scroll through the top social media headlines. From the impact of Gen-Z's #blockout2024 movement to Chat GPT's latest AI innovation, we're unpacking updates and what they mean for brands.


Needless to say, we're living in tense and turbulent times. Protests against the Israel-Hamas war are increasing, with encampments popping up on college campuses worldwide. As the general public watch war unfold through their phones, there’s been a growing sentiment of helplessness felt by the average social media user.

Meanwhile, in other news, last Monday’s Met Gala drew the world’s elite to New York in extravagant outfits themed "Garden of Time." Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Zendaya and Barry Keoghan paraded in designer attire, with Gigi Hadid stating her dress took 13,500 hours to make. Compounded with the revelation that event tickets cost $75,000 each, many online spectators felt more disconnected than ever. Online uproar was ignited when TikTok influencer Hailey Kalil, known as @haleyybaylee, interviewed Met Gala guests while dressed in 17th century inspired regalia. In a now-deleted TikTok video, Hailey lip-syncs a line from the 2006 movie ‘Marie Antoinette,’ mouthing, "let them eat cake." This phrase’s historical context caused intense backlash: “Hayley is in STEM, she is educated. She knew the meaning of the phrase, hence why she used it. Using it at the MET GALA?! it’s all so bad.” - @Jayli Wolf, TikTok

Other users drew comparisons between the Met Gala and dystopian novel series ‘The Hunger Games’, with many commenting on various videos that they were “watching from District 12” - a reference to the poorest societal tier watching the wealthy enjoy lavish events.

“Seeing Met Gala coverage felt like when the tributes showed up at the capitol in Hunger Games all glitzy and everyone in the capital cheered and the rest of the districts are starving and dying and living in a totalitarian state.”
- @navarroc0821, X

In a bid to take some form of action, Gen-Z social media users created a “block list”, targeting celebrities who attended the Met Gala but didn’t speak out in support of Palestine. This list quickly expanded to include any celebrities not publicly backing the cause or those working with brands linked to the conflict. The aim of the campaign is to unfollow, block, and disengage from these stars, reducing their influence and income from social media interactions. In a TikTok video with 2.5 million views, user @ladyfromtheoutside called for people to “block all the celebrities, influencers and wealthy socialites who are not using their resources to help those in dire need.”

“We gave them their platforms; it’s time to take it back, take our views away, our likes, our comments, our money by blocking them on all social media and digital platforms,”
@ladyfromtheoutside, TikTok

While the campaign began without a specific list, many started blocking big names like Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift. This strategy appears to be working, as some stars, usually gaining followers, started losing them immediately. Social Blade, a social media monitoring website, showed Kardashian losing 44,000 Instagram followers on the day @ladyfromtheoutside posted her video, and another 123,000 the next day. Swift lost 26,000 followers on May 9th and 103,000 on May 11th. Selena Gomez, who has been losing followers since earlier in the month, dropped 17,000 on May 9th.

While some critics have argued that the blockout distracts from the real issues in Gaza by focusing too much on celebrities, some also question the criteria for blocking someone and what actions would be considered enough to avoid such fate. Regardless, the blockout showcases an interesting display of young people reclaiming power in an age of online influencing.


The AI arms race is continuing unabated. Chat GPT launched an updated version, GPT4o, and we’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with it. From a functional point of view, it’s five times faster than the GPT4, so no more seven second lag when you’re asking it to write your blog post, college essay or asking it: “would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck?”

Even better than the increased performance of the bot, is the fact that it’s no longer just a text-based platform. This new AI model can reason across audio, vision and text in real time. This means you can chat with the bot using voice commands, or upload a picture and ask GPT to analyse it. In fact, the bot is now so finessed that when one of our team uploaded a picture of a television screen showing a football match, it could identify the following:

“You've shared an image of a living room with a television displaying a ‘Premier League Live’ broadcast on Sky Sports.”

“The match appears to have ended with a scoreline of 0-2.”

“One of the teams is Tottenham Hotspur, as indicated by the logo on the bottom left.”

“The person on the screen is holding a Sky Sports microphone. Based on the image and the pundit shown, it looks like the pundit is Jamie Redknapp, a former footballer and current pundit for Sky Sports.”

And hilariously:

“As for the teams playing, it appears Tottenham Hotspur played against a team with a blue badge, and the scoreline ended 0-2. This scoreline is typical for matches involving teams like Manchester City or Chelsea when they play against Tottenham. Given the 0-2 scoreline and typical Premier League context, it is likely that Tottenham Hotspur played against Manchester City.”
Sorry Spurs fans!

The new GPT version also boasts the ability to listen to audio input and instantly translate it into another language, an impressive feature adding to GPT's already powerful toolkit - something that made an immediate impact on Duolingo's share price. Given the amazing capabilities ofElevenLabs—a platform owned by OpenAI and actively used at Thinkhouse —this development is seriously exciting.


With this being the year of elections (check out our previous 52 Insights on TikTok and Politics), social media giants are in a race to be seen to be doing as much as is humanly possible to offset the rise of generative AI images utilised as mis or disinformation in the public sphere.

According to TikTok themselves, the platform is:

“Starting to automatically label AI-generated content (AIGC) when it's uploaded from certain other platforms. To do this, we're partnering with the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) and becoming the first video sharing platform to implement their Content Credentials technology. To help our community navigate AIGC and misinformation online, we're also launching new media literacy resources, which we developed with guidance from experts including MediaWise and WITNESS.”

Content will now be automatically labelled as AI generated when uploaded to TikTok, and soon AI generated content made in-app with TikTok will be detectable using C2PA tools once uploaded to other platforms.

Not to be outdone, Meta, according to, is “taking more steps to ensure that its users are aware of AI-generated content in its apps, with a new AI-generated label option now showing up within the post composer flow, as part of its expanded AI disclosure requirements.”

“This is in addition to Meta’s own AI detection tools, which will append its own “Made with AI” labels to content where Meta detects AI image indicators."


According to a recent WARC report, social media platforms including Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, X, and others (excluding YouTube) are projected to become the leading global channel for advertising spend. Social media advertising is expected to increase by 14.3% year-on-year, reaching $247 billion, surpassing paid search, which is projected to reach $224 billion in 2024.

Mind boggling numbers for sure! But more importantly, let’s take a look at what is driving this?

Well, surprising as it might seem, the rumours of the death of Facebook have been greatly exaggerated. It truly is the remarkable renaissance of Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) that is the driving force behind social media’s insane performance. It may be hard to fathom, but Meta is set this year to yield $155.6 billion in advertising revenue, meaning it will take over the entire global linear TV market spend! That means that advertisers are spending more on Meta than on all of the TV stations in the world combined.

And why is Meta growing so fast?

Well, there has been a huge increase in investment from Chinese brands that are looking to go global. Seen a Temu ad on Instagram lately?

Furthermore, advantage+ (social media buyers will be familiar), a new AI tool embedded into Meta’s ad manager, is driving incremental spend from advertisers.

“While people get carried away with generative AI and shiny tools like Midjourney and Dall E, Meta invested in functional AI tools like Advantage+ that helped them respond to the critical threat that was posed by the iOS 14 update that greatly enhanced user privacy and had a devastating effect on advertising effectiveness and an increase in advertising cost. Advantage+ leverages automation, first-party data, conversion modelling, and enhanced privacy tools. All strategies that maintain ad effectiveness and measurement accuracy despite the reduced availability of third-party tracking data. This is AI in action.”
- Donagh Humphries, Head of Social and Digital Innovation

Finally, Reels - Instagram’s answer to TikTok - has been a huge success for the platform, especially from a brand-building POV. The highly addictive nature of full screen video and vertical scroll has meant that there are on average seven ads seen per Reels session.

Apart from Meta? Well, basically all of the platforms are still growing. Although TikTok has significantly slowed in its growth rate, it’s still expected to expand by 18.3% YoY. Amazingly, Instagram is set to outpace that growth by ten percentage points! And Pinterest, Snapchat and Reddit are all expected to follow suit. The only outlier is ‘X’, who is predicted to decline for the second year in a row.


The block out highlights the growing awareness and activism among young social media users, who are anything but passive. Authenticity and genuine engagement are essential to a youth audience, and brands must be adaptable, responsive, and empower this audience to foster loyalty. It’s a reminder that in the digital age, the power of influence is a two-way street.

It’s not too late to get up to speed on all things AI. These tools aren’t perfect but they are extremely useful. From speedreading documents to generating ideas you’re likely to find some benefit within your organisation. While AI technology offers significant benefits, marketers should be wary of risks like the recent deepfake scam where fraudsters tricked a British design firm into paying $25 million. We’ve been experimenting and using these tools for some time now at Thinkhouse, so we’re happy to help if you need expert advice.

Social is going from strength to strength, especially when it comes to brand building and fast becoming the predominant investment in the overall marketing mix. For better or for worse, the platforms are becoming more homogenised. Meaning content that works on TikTok is now re-usable on other channels such as Instagram Reels, Snapchat, YouTube shorts and even Facebook.

See also


In this week’s 52INSIGHTS we unpick the new agreement between Universal Music & TikTok and explore the impact of music on the platform.