In celebration of Black History Month, Snapchat launched an immersive lens that lets users explore a virtual art gallery filled with the work of black millennial artists. According to Mashable, the idea is that Snapchat users can enter the “gallery” wherever they are to see sharp and vibrant work that celebrates and reflects upon many themes, including being a young black artist in America. The lens and gallery experience is pretty amazing and will be available throughout February. To see it easily, open your camera in Snapchat and scan this Snapcode.

Instagram has launched a new #ShareBlackStories promotion for Black History Month, which aims to honor the black community on the platform and showcase relevant creators. The program also includes new creative tools for Stories, including camera effects, stickers and custom templates.

Instagram Stories Black History Month

Alexa, ask Chucky to stop murdering me! As we’re tracking adoption and pushback to A.I.-assistants within culture (e.g., Pringles’ Super Bowl spot), we’re also starting to see that fear of consumer A.I. come to Hollywood. Now, instead of being possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, the Chucky doll in the remake of Child’s Play will be driven by defective programming A.I. that has made it not only murderous, but capable of learning beyond the limitations of other dolls. “We’re friends ’til the end, remember?”

Google Maps is rolling out an augmented reality (AR) feature that will hopefully keep us from running into light poles while using the app and walking. The new features use an arrow overlay the camera view of your phone so you can visually see which way to go. It’s still in limited availability to Google Local Guides for testing, so for now… be sure to look where you’re walking!  

Move over photobooths, and meet Ai-Da, the robot artist that will be able to draw people from sight with a pencil in her bionic hand. Named after British mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, the world’s first “AI ultra-realistic robot artist” will do more than draw. “She’s going to actually be drawing and we’re hoping to then build technology for her to paint,” said Ai-Da’s creators. “But also as a performance artist she’ll be able to engage with audiences and actually get messages across; asking those questions about technology today.”

Photo: REUTERS/Matthew Stock

This week Reddit announced it raised $300 million at a $3 billion valuation (up from a $1.8 billion valuation in 2017), with 330 million monthly active users heavily in the 18-24 demographic. Reddit is an important place for modern marketers to pay attention, and they are adding more performance tools each year. However, it can be hard to break into for the uninitiated. If you don’t know where to start, Digital Trends has a great high-level overview here worth skimming: What is Reddit? A beginner’s guide to the front page of the internet

Tell your Mom to check Snopes about that 48-Hour Challenge that’s sweeping local TV news stations this week. The hoax supposedly encourages teens to go missing for two days in hopes their picture will show up on social media. It’s a serious subject, and apparently NOT TRUE. Sorry Mom!

With all the snowy commutes this week I’ve been spending a lot of time with Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. I highly recommend Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis, which is about “Freudian slips” through the lens of Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and Hallelujah, which tells the story of Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name. The latter episode delves into the “the role that time and iteration play in the production of genius, and how some of the most memorable works of art had modest and undistinguished births.”

Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History

New emoji alert! Emoji 12.0 brings us waffles, more diversity and inclusivity, a sloth, and a suggestive “finger pinch” glyph. See the full list here.

Based on estimates, 10 million concurrent users attended DJ Marshmello’s virtual show in Fortnite last week — in what’s being called the future of the metaverse as Fornite continues to evolve from game to social network + hang-out spot online.

Spotify is poised to become the largest audio platform in the world,” said Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, co-founders of Gimlet Media, about Spotify’s acquisition of both Gimlet Media and Anchor this week in what some are calling “Netflix for your ears.”

Image result for spotify gimlet

In an interview with Joe Rogan, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey floated how editable tweets would work on the platform, sparking a flurry of excitement and outrage. But today, deleting a tweet and reposting is still the only way to make changes.

Instagram’s IGTV, which lets users upload videos up to 10 minutes long, is still struggling in adoption. So this week Instagram will start running IGTV episode previews in users’ main Insta feeds this week.

According to TechCrunch, starting February 28th Facebook’s “Why am I seeing this?” advertising clarity button in the drop-down menu of feed posts will reveal when your contact info was uploaded, if it was by the brand or one of their agency/developer partners, and when access was shared between partners. A Facebook spokesperson says the goal is to keep giving people a better understanding of how advertisers use their information. Custom Audience Terms remain unchanged. Facebook didn’t share a lot of information about the change but here’s what we know.  

This podcast discussion between Malcom Gladwell and legendary metalhead Dave Hill gives us an enlightening look at the culture of Norwegian black metal music, and how an email exchange can launch a metal band. It’s hilarious, disturbing, and worth a listen on your commute home tonight. 🤘

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Hello from the arctic tundra — where boiling water turns into snow, raw eggs don’t crack when you drop them (see 3:50), and frankly, we’re freezing our pants off (see #15)!

Here’s what I’m tracking around the social web this week…

TikTok, the breakout short-form social video app, is growing its base and ranking high in the App Store. And they are now starting to quietly test advertising. Here’s a look at the pitch deck they are sharing with agencies in Europe.  

This Twitch streamer fell asleep during a stream and woke up to find 200 people watching him sleep. ZZzzzz… have we finally reached peak stream?

CNN has an in-depth piece on the Pentagon’s efforts to combat deepfake videos, including examples of manipulated videos and tips to spot a fake one. We’ll be seeing lots more about this technology leading up to the 2020 election.

In Facebook news, Mark Zuckerberg shared Facebook’s 2019 priorities this week and clarified that the merger of Whatsapp, Instagragram and Messenger won’t happen until next year. If you haven’t already, give the Facebook 2019 Topics & Trends Report from Facebook IQ a skim.

Is Snapchat giving up disappearing content? This week Reuters shared a much-debated story about making Snapchat content shared publicly via the “Our Story” section more available outside Snapchat, which seems similar to Instagram’s test of sharing a direct link back to an Instagram Story. You just can’t keep good content a secret!

Instagram Stories share option

You know when your computer gets overloaded and its fan starts running really fast? Slow Hot Computer is a website that makes your computer run slow and hot – ON PURPOSE. Use it at work to decrease your productivity and maybe keep your fingers warm on a cold week. Apologies in advance to your IT department!

Backstory: My kids had a snow day from school and I said “let’s make something go viral!” And we did! 

Those pants got picked up by BuzzFeed, IFL Science, BoredPanda, Distractify, Someecards, 22 Words, the front page of Imgur, and news pubs in Canada, Ireland, India, Spain, Japan, and Serbia!! 

Two kids think it’s hilarious. One is embarrassed 😂

Here’s the original!

I was last highighted in BuzzFeed for a tweet I made about Taylor Swift in 2007 that aged pretty well after 10 years!

What People Said About Taylor Swift 10 Years Ago Is Making Me Laugh

This is all pretty sad. Lol.

Twitter released their 2019 Marketing Calendar, which identifies events they think will drive a lot of social conversation in the coming year.

Screensharing is coming to social media with the debut of the new Squad app, a screensharing social media app that allows you to hang out with your friends and watch the same things on your phone at the same time. Try it out with your friends (and look for Facebook and Snap to copy this technology soon)!

The latest update of the Netflix app for Apple iOS lets you share movies and series from your viewing list on your iPhone or iPad with friends via Instagram Stories – similar to Spotify.

Who was the Original Tweeter? Twitter is testing a new tool that labels which user started a thread, which can be helpful to debunk impersonation trolls when a conversation picks up speed.

Think you can’t be fooled by phishing? Google launched an infosec quiz that is a lot harder to beat than you would think. This should be taught in schools!

“I can’t believe that ‘please don’t grab the 18 foot long wild predator’ is something that needs to be explicitly said out loud, but here we are,” said a marine biologist about the video of a diver swimming with a giant great white shark went viral this week. Note to self: don’t do that.

Lastly, if you haven’t felt the FOMO enough already, we highly recommend you steal your friend’s passwords and binge watch the following three documentaries, in order, to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in influencer engagement and social media right now: The American Meme (Netflix), Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened (Netflix) and Fyre Fraud (Hulu). It’s a 5-hour crash course on the state of the attention economy…. but fair warning, you may need a digital detox away from Instagram after watching.

Hey Egg Gang! If you missed the Instagram account featuring one photo of an egg that became the most-liked post on Instagram you just haven’t been on social media this week. However, nobody is talking about how 9 years ago someone created a group on Facebook called “Can this pickle get more fans than Nickleback?” and achieved its goal, sparking a worldwide news cycle. What’s old is new again in meme-land, you guys. First pickles; now eggs. What’s next?

Facebook launched its first podcast this week, called “Three and a Half Degrees” — a take on the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon concept that has evolved to just 3.5 degrees of separation thanks to social networks like Facebook. 

Two new documentaries about the 2017 Fyre Festival came out on Netflix and Hulu this week, with a focus on how social media and influencers continue to be underestimated when it comes to driving sentiment and influence. From The Guardian, “In this scenario, the enjoyment of an experience is secondary to that of selling of it down the chain to one’s own followers, with the subsequent admiration and envy it’s hoped to cause.”

fyre festival

Facebook accounted a three-year commitment to invest $300 million in local news ecosystems. This follows the heels of Google’s similar $300 million “Google News Initiative” last year. Part of the initiative intends to place 1,000 new journalists in local newsrooms over five years.

The 10-year “glow-up challenge” meme that caught fire this week wasn’t just a reminder of when Facebook used to be fun, it is also potentially a windfall of visual data on aging for facial-recognition AI — teaching the algorithms about age progression using your before and after photos. What a difference a decade makes! 

Amazon’s IMDb announced the launch of a free streaming service called Freedive that features free access to ad-supported TV showslike Fringe and The Bachelor, and movies like Monster and The Illusionist. The content is free to watch without a subscription, and works on phone, laptop and streaming TV. 

imdb freedive

Instagram now lets you regram your posts to multiple accounts, which will allow brands and consumers to cross post to different profiles quickly. Some new research on Insta Stories shows they are becoming more popular for advertisers than ever

Twitter announced new real-time event dashboard and audience analytics tools at CES this week. They’re also testing some new conversation tools, which you may see your friends testing in your feeds in the coming weeks.  

Twitter analytics tools

Snapchat released new research that shows 95% of Snapchatters say the app makes them feel happy, more than any other app tested (Twitter made them “anxious”). This may have something to do with the puppy face filters, but we’re not positive.

Beyond U.S.-based social networks, most of us have a lot to learn about WeChat, which the NYT reports is “the equivalent of WhatsApp plus Facebook plus PayPal pus Uber plus GrubHub plus many other things.”

Post-Golden Globes, the marketing director for Fiji water explained how the #FijiWaterGirl takeover was orchestrated. Jamie Lee Curtis was pissed!

In strange meme news this week, museums around the world are sending each other solicited duck pics (SFW)

In chart porn news, Visual Capitalist has a fascinating chart of the Top 20 Biggest Web Properties Over Time — from 1998 to today. Remember Geocities and Lycos?

The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today)