Happy Friday and Happy Birthday this week to Twitter!

Now entering age 12, here’s a look at its initial designs at launch when it was an SMS-only network and not the mouthpiece for the leader of the free world.


Here’s what’s up around the social web this week..


Hologram David Bowie Is Coming to Your House: Ground Control to Major Tom.. This week the David Bowie Archive announced plans for both augmented and virtual reality ‘recreations’ of the touring show – including a a series of “audio-visual spaces” with 3D scans of Bowie’s artifacts, the ability to try on his costumes and even the ability to project Ziggy himself right into your room. As Engadget wrote, “Think of it as paying for any other exhibition ticket, only with more flexible visiting hours and no other guests getting in your way.” Sign us up!


Deepfakes are Coming: A recently released study indicates that DeepFakes, a neural network that creates fake videos of real people, represents one of the largest threats posed by artificial intelligence. Recent examples of this in action include Nick Cage playing Lois Lane and Jordan Peele as Barack Obama sharing his opinion on Black Panther (“Killmonger was right”) and calling President Donald Trump. It’s not quite perfect, but getting more realistic by the day. With the election season upon us, it will be important for social networks and media organizations to spend more time learning how to spot deep fakes. And that goes for consumers, too. For starters, here are 5 Ways to Tell if You’re Talking to a Bot.


Robots are Taking Artists’ Jobs Too: This week the MIT Technology Review had a feature on robots who paint. The 2018 Robotart Competition featured 100 different robot-created artworks including abstract, impressionistic, paint and ink designs. The winning automaton this year is called CloudPainter and one of its winning images was created by a team of neural networks, AI algorithms, and robots. Does robot art invalidate human generated art? That’s a discussion for your own social feeds.



New Emoji for Ur Texts: Emojis continue to explode in popularity — more than 700 million emojis are used on Facebook posts daily, and more than 900 million emojis are sent without accompanying text every day on Messenger. And this week Apple previewed 70 new emojis that will arrive in an iOS update later this year, including new hairstyles  (curly hair, red hair, gray hair and no-hair) animals, (parrot, kangaroo, lobster and peacock), food (mango, lettuce, cupcake and mooncake) and smileys (party face, pleading face, old face and a face surrounded by hearts). There will even be superhero emojis. Never happy, the internet is still demanding emoji for spiders, chocolate milk, and the Tardis. You just can’t please everyone. Except maybe @GoatEmoji1.


Social Media Stranger Hunting: A woman bought a projector at Goodwill in Georgia, discovered it was full of slides, and sparked a national news cycle looking for the family in the photos. In the social media era, she thought she just may find them. And then the internet FOUND THEM!!  If you’re into this sort of thing, we highly recommend checking out The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, a family band who specifically seek out discarded slides and then write music about the adventures they imagine are happening in the photos. Dad plays piano, daughter plays drums, and Mom runs the slide projector. Naturally. Our favorite videos are “Look at Me” and “Mountain Trip to Japan, 1959.”


See you on the Internet!

The Digital + Social Team


You know it’s been a good week when a Build a Bear costs as much as your age,  a new Kickstarter launched for a $4,000 Japanese robot that will clap for you anytime, and this eye-candy video from Chaka Khan featuring amazing Vine-style choregraphy is nearing a million views. YES!

Here’s what else we’ve been tracking around the social web this week…


Who Gets Your Facebook When You Die: This week Germany’s highest court ruled that the parents of a deceased daughter have the rights to her full Facebook account under the inheritance law. Under its current policy, Facebook only allows relatives of the dead partial access to the account, allowing them to change the page into an online memorial or to delete it entirely. But this new ruling treats your Facebook data more like private letters and diaries, which are passed onto heirs. Who knew liking all those cat photos would be so valuable to future generations? (LINK)



HBD App Store: This week marked the 10-year birthday of the App Store, which launched with 500 applications and 25% of them were free. An actual quote from the NYT debut story from 2008: “Apple has a substantial way to go to catch its competitors. Palm, Microsoft, R.I.M., Nokia and Symbian have all enticed developers to write software for their smartphone operating systems.” The most popular apps at-launch included Texas Hold’em, some racing games, and “Koi Pond”: a 99-cent “entertainment” app that offered a digital recreation of a relaxing koi pond, complete with swimming fish and ambient noises. The most popular apps today are Bitmoji, Snapchat and YouTube. (LINK)



Don’t Whisper in Walmart: Walmart just won a patent featuring “listening to the frontend” technology that could allow them to measure workers’ performance, and could even listen to their conversations with customers at checkout. It would then analyze the audio and use calculate various “performance metric[s]” for each employee. As Amazon continues to find new ways to leverage digital data this an innovative way, albeit Big Brother-ish, for Walmart to explore bringing digital technology into the brick and mortar retail experience. (LINK)



E-Scooters on a Roll: This week Bird – the start-up electric scooter rental service – came to Minneapolis and completely dominated not just the sidewalks, but also the local social news cycle. E-bikes, scooter rentals and transportation sharing continue to grow in adoption – particularly as more millennials forgo buying cars.  This week it was announced Uber is investing in Lime, the e-scooter startup worth $1.1 billion. That means soon you could user your Uber app to not just hail a ride, but also rent a scooter by the minute. Have you rented a scooter? Get on it!


The Shiggy Challenge Crushing Social: RIP floss dance. There’s a new one to learn and it’s called the Shiggy Challenge (aka #InMyFeelingsChallenge, the “Shiggy,” the #DoTheShiggy Challenge). Inspired by the Drake track “In My Feelings,” the internet is being flooded with people doing this dance. What’s notable is how quickly celebrities – not just online influencers – jumped onto this: Ciara, This is Us-star Sterling K Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, and even The Backpack Kid. And just as the dance challenge was blowing up this week, Will Smith destroyed all competition with his drone footage atop a bridge in Budapest version posted to Instagram. Thanks a lot, Drake. We’ll see how long this one lasts. (LINK)


Fourth of July Social Trends: This week we enjoyed #SecondCivilWarLetters, this leaked footage of Michael Bay’s Jurassic Planet, the memes of Brazilian soccer coach Tite’s epic celebration run, and the helicopter footage of the hundreds of illegal firework celebrations across Los Angeles. All four of those are worth clicking on – believe us.


Videos are Getting Loooonger: This week Digiday has a great story highlighting the trend of creators making longer videos to cater to the YouTube algorithm. This is a direct correlation to the video giant’s recommendation engine and search and discovery changes. And while YouTube’s algorithm has prioritized watch time since 2012, creators have seen it shift toward favoring videos that people are likely to click on – and from channels they don’t subscribe to (versus videos from subscribed channels). Changes in pre- and mid-roll advertisements are also impacting this change. The challenge for creators? Make a long video worth watching in its entirety. Now that is going to take some practice. (LINK)


Facebook Shuts Standalone Apps: Just a week after Instagram launched its stand-alone IGTV app, Facebook announced it is shuttering its stand-alone apps MovesHello, and tbh, a trio of apps it launched or acquired over the last four years that haven’t developed large audiences. Tbh was the one we were watching — an anonymous social media app similar to Yik Yak that allowed high school students to send prewritten compliments to each other. But just 11 months later, it’s dead. Who knew sending compliments as a business model wouldn’t be popular in 2018? (LINK)


Uganda Passes Social Media Tax: As we anticipate Net Neutrality’s repeal effects in the US, our team has been watching the Uganda social media tax closely. The Ugandan government implemented a law forcing mobile users to pay taxes to use mobile money and social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Skype. Starting July 1, the tax is equivalent to about 20 percent of what typical Ugandan users pay for their mobile phone data plans. This move is obviously very unpopular with Ugandans who see this as an attempt to prohibit free speech. Now that Amnesty International and the internal press has gotten involved, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. We’ll be watching. (LINK)


The Cutest Twitter Thread Love Story Ever: Lots of people are traveling for the holiday this week, and sometimes that means trade seats with a stranger. And sometimes the result is the beginning of a love story that captures the internet’s attention. This is that kind of story… (LINK)


You know it’s been a good week because Julia Roberts joined Instagram and we sent an A.I.-powered robot into outer space.

Here’s what else is up…

Shining Light on Dark Posts: This week both Facebook and Twitter added new transparency tools for targeted ads.  These tools mean an end to dark posts, far more access to information for consumers and for advertisers, and ideally, less risk of foreign interference in political elections. Facebook requires people to sign into a Facebook account to access the tool. Twitter doesn’t require users to have a Twitter account. Facebook only shows ads that are currently running across its properties, unless the ads are related to politics, and then they are archived for the next seven years. This also means marketers can more easily check out what their competitors are doing, an unintended consequence we are still digging into as an agency. More on that soon! (LINK)


Airbags for your iPhone: This week we delighted in a new cell phone case invention that senses when it’s being dropped and deploys thin metal springs to dampen the blow. This “active damping” case is the brainchild of a German engineer who won the top award from the German Society for Mechatronics. Until phone manufacturers make unbreakable phones and humans stop dropping them, this may be an interesting stop-gap for a $700 “oops.” (LINK)


Facebook Stories Get an Upgrade: This week we were at Facebook NY HQ and they told us that Stories are exploding in popularity (mostly because of Instagram Stories syndication), up to 150 million active users. This week they are also adding group replies and the “Reaction” suite — Like, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry and Love — from News Feed to Stories, replacing the generic emoji quick replies it previously offered. It’s also adding two “interactive stickers” — a flame and a laughing smile — you can add to your own Stories that when tapped by a friend, shimmer and notify you. (LINK)


Visual Mirroring | gnirorriM lausiV: We’re starting to see lots of visual mirroring in social posts in recent weeks. The idea is to identify a beautiful scene, find a reflective surface, and then record in such a way that the image is perfectly mirrored when you hold your phone upside down. Like this. And this. And there are fail memes for this too, of course. (LINK|KNIL)

Last one

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You Have to Watch this Carpool Karoke: James Corden singing along to hits with celebrities is almost always must-watch content, but this week the “Late Late Show” host sang “Penny Lane” with Paul McCartney while driving down the eponymous avenue in Liverpool. Try not to smile. WATCH

  • IGTV Launches: As we predicted weeks ago, this week Instagram launched IGTV. This is Insta’s stand-alone video app that leverages its existing accounts, community and reach to share long-form videos. And it is all vertical, which is insanely pleasurable to watch on mobile. Marques Brownlee has a great overview here and raises the question: As Instagram focuses on creators, will it pay for quality content, so creators can make a living from it? Time will tell. Download IGTV here. (LINK)

  • Diurnal Trends in Social Behavior: In a newly published study researchers are matching the words we tweet with specific aspects of human psychology. They analyzed 800 million tweets and 7 billion words published to Twitter between 2010 and 2014 to study what they could reveal about the ways the British population thinks and feels on a 24-hour cycle. They found that analytical thinking—which correlates with frequent use of nouns, articles, and prepositions—seems to peak early in the day, along with an increased concern with things like power and achievement. But late at night it turns out existential thinking dominates. By 3:00 am, positive emotions are at their lowest, and topics like death and religion have peaked. This isn’t new science, but the technique of applying diurnal research against consumer conversation is fascinating. (LINK)

  • A.I. Better at Arguing than Humans: IBM created an AI system called Project Debater that recently took on a human opponent at a press event. The statement to be debated was “We should subsidize space exploration” and another on telemedicine. The AI was not trained on the topics presented, and yet was able to present unscripted rebuttals and clear reasoning after analyzing its opponent’s arguments. A majority of the audience named the AI as the winner. Watch out, lawyers! (LINK)

  • Curating Our Forgotten Digital Photos: Photographer Doug Battenhausen thinks all our advances in cellphone cameras and photo-sharing technology haven’t made our pictures better, but rather more sterile. So he’s been looking through our forgotten, dead photo accounts for 5 years and curating them on his website, Internet History. They are sometimes funny, sometimes bad, but usually photos that give him a feeling of “comforting sadness.” With every new selfie we take today, we quickly move past long forgotten pics of the recent past. It’s striking to go back through and look at them through this lens. Pun intended. (LINK)

A Trash Panda Breaks the Internet: Here in the Twin Cities we’re often a lot closer to nature than you think – with random black bears roaming the suburbs and coyotes pretty much everywhere. But it’s highly unusual for a raccoon to scale a skyscraper, and it got the world’s attention this week. The memes flowed. Geico made three commercials about it. And Minnesota Public Radio starting selling a raccoon tote bag. We have a friendly rivalry between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. So it’s been fun to tease that in 2018 Minneapolis will be known for the Super Bowl, while St. Paul will be known for a daredevil climbing an office building. +1: Minneapolis. (LINK)


Social Media News Wars Update: This week new research revealed use of Facebook for news has dropped 9 percent in the last year, with news consumption among younger groups falling 20 percent. It also showed people are looking toward dark social apps – like texting and Whatsapp – for their news. As education levels about digital reputation increases we are being choosier about what we say and share publicly (well, some of us are). Meanwhile, Twitter is doubling down on news — putting more live news events in your timeline and notifications, including personalized push notifications if an event is happening that it believes you’ll be interested in. Users can expect to start seeing the news alerts around events at the World Cup today. (LINK)


“Deep” Learning Cameras are Becoming Crazy Smart, and Affordable: This week Amazon launched the DeepLens for only $249. It’s the first video camera designed to teach deep learning basics and optimized to run machine learning models on the camera (versus in the cloud). It has object and facial detection and “hot dog not hot dog”-built right in! Meanwhile Google this week launched DeepMind, an AI that can render 3D objects from 2D pictures. This is what our human brains do – use a few visual cues to assume what the rest of a room or object looks like. This is all pretty geeky stuff, but in the very near future our phones and Alexa devices will have these capabilities and drastically change how we interact with them. We’re already starting to brainstorm what brands can bring to life using this new technology! (LINK)


Red Hot Chili Peppers Fans Keep Buying Tickets for the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a Scottish Bagpipe Band: Thanks to Reddit and Twitter confessions, this week we’re learning that quite a few people have been duped into buying concert tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a Scottish bagpipe band – not the 90s rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s delicious irony and the cause for much internet teasing – especially when you hear that some fans made special trips or paid as much as $228 to see the band – well, the non-bagpipe version. Because that’s a thing you have to check on now. Although we have to say the Red Hot Chili Pipers do know how to rock.  (LINK)


Automating the end of DVD Delivery: For some reason Netflix is promoting their snail mail DVD return process this month, featuring “The ARRM,” or the Automated Rental Return Machine. Like that Sesame Street crayon movie from our childhood, it’s super cool to watch how it sorts, opens, cleans, and organizes the mail every day. But it’s 2018, right? Seems like a lot of investment to keep those DVDs in the mail. Except there are still 3 million DVD subscribers who earned Netflix a profit of $56 million in Q1. Turns out the DVD selection is way bigger than streaming: about 100,000 DVDs versus only 5,600 titles streaming. So maybe it’s a good thing when the robots start taking our jobs. (LINK)

Dear Instagram: Teens are using Instagram threads for advice on popular topics like acne, friends and dating instead of searching on Google. These thread accounts are often run by older teens or college students, who can spend hours a day responding to direct messages from followers seeking personal advice. The threads themselves are often a series of Twitter screenshots that have been uploaded onto Instagram. Self-help and advice threads don’t really go viral on Twitter, but it turns out screenshots of them will on Instagram. (LINK)

Facebook Karaoke: This week Facebook introduced Lip Sync Live, a feature that lets users lip sync to hundreds of popular songs like “Havana” by Camila Cabello and “God’s Plan” by Drake. Fewer teens are using Facebook than ever before (only 51% between ages 13 and 17), while karaoke apps like Musical.ly are exploding in popularity as stand-alone app experiences for the same audience. So Facebook has spent millions of dollar on music licensing deals with three major record labels (Warner, Universal and Sony), which means users will have access to virtually every popular song available. In fact, soon Facebook won’t censor user videos with mainstream music in the background at all. Turn it up! (LINK)

The next YouTube is Instagram? This week Instagram announced a new Snapchat Discover-style video hub, including vertically-oriented scripted shows, music videos influencer content ranging from 5 to 15 minutes and potentially up to an hour long. The rollout, tentatively scheduled for June 20, will also allow average users to upload longer videos, beyond the current 60-second limit – potentially up to an hour. Instagram intends to let creators and publishers earn money off the longer videos, leveraging their 800 million users to drive new revenue streams. Would you spend an hour watching one video on Instagram? (LINK)

Pokemon Go, with Dinosaurs: This week we were walking all over downtown Minneapolis catching virtual velociraptors thanks to Jurassic Park Alive, the newest Pokemon Go-style augmented reality game. In the game, you physically walk around to collect as DNA from each dinosaur you encounter and gathering supplies at inventory drops. AMC Theaters and Walmart are the first retailers to offer branded supplies at their nationwide locations. It’s a fun take on Pokemon and a precursor to the Harry Potter AR game that is sure to blow up later this year. Download Jurassic Park Alive here.

Meet Norman, the World’s First Psychopath A.I.: Popular sci-fi shows like Black Mirror can give us a look into the worst-case scenario of new technology, but MIT Media Lab went ahead and created a monster to show how the data behind A.I. matters. And its name is Norman. Researchers trained Norman with content from the “darkest corners of Reddit” and then examined its responses to Rorschach inkblots. The results? Where a “normal” algorithm saw flowers and wedding cakes in the inkblots, Norman saw images of a man being fatally shot and a man killed by a speeding driver. Where the control algorithm saw a black and white photo of a red and white umbrella, Norman saw a man getting electrocuted while attempting to cross busy street. Pretty messed up! And a fascinating glimpse into the implications of data decisions for these new technological tools. (LINK)