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)