Social Pulse, Week of 8-12

Happy Birthday TikTok! August marks the one year mark of TikTok’s launch in the U.S., and today finds itself lauded for its creativity, the go-to place for the next Old Town Road, and the prime test-and-learn destination for brands. If you haven’t downloaded TikTok yet, check it out today!

DIY Face Filters Come to Instagram: Spark AR, Facebook’s tool for building augmented reality effects, now allows anyone to make custom face filters and other effects for Instagram Stories. Once a user follows a creator, effects from that account will automatically show up in the Stories camera’s effects tray. According to The Verge, because this week’s update will unleash a number of face filters into the Stories ecosystem, Instagram is adding a “Browse Effects” option at the end of the effects tray so users can discover and try new AR filters. Sweet!

VR Therapy: Would you give yourself life advice? A new study asked participants to play the role of virtual therapist for themselves—and the results suggest that VR could be an effective therapeutic device for some people. It’s a modern take on the “empty chair” technique —  a method of therapy that focuses on the present moment rather than the past….except using a VR version of yourself!

Watch Out, Newscasters! Three years ago Amazon launched a service called Polly that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing customers to create applications that talk – with zero machine learning expertise required. The tech giant is always striving to make the voices more lifelike and human, so this week they added two features – neural text to speech, which increases naturalness and expressiveness, and newscaster style, which mimics voices voice that like we expect to hear on the TV or radio.

Only 445 Days Until the 2020 Election: A recent Pew survey of U.S. adults found that 46% of social media users feel “worn out” by the number of political posts and discussions they encounter on social networks. Pew also found that 68% of social media users find it “stressful and frustrating” to discuss politics on social media with people they disagree with, while 27% said they found those interactions to be “interesting and informative,” down from 35% three years ago.

Tumblr is Worth Less than Your Rich Uncle’s Yacht: This week it was announced Verizon is selling Tumblr to WordPress parent, Automattic, for a price reported to be less than $3 million. It’s an embarrassingly small number and a price that’s incredibly less than the $1.1 billion that Yahoo paid for Tumblr in 2013. Look for some new advertising opportunities to come. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed did a round-up of 7 Condos You Could Buy In New York For The Same Price As Tumblr.

Visualizing the Web: The 100 biggest websites generated a staggering 206 billion visits in June 2019. Google, YouTube, and Facebook took the top spots, followed by Baidu and Wikipedia. The Visual Capitalist created this visualization of the global Top 100, and it illustrates Alphabet is killing it (Google’s parent company), making up the highest percentage of visit volume with 43.7% of the top 100 sites. While Amazon is definitely the biggest player in U.S. retail, its only #14 globally. (And by the way, pornography sites made up 2 of the top 10 visited sites at #8 & #10. GROSS!). See the complete visualization here. Yes, it’s SFW.

Snapchat Spectacles, V3: This week Snap announced the third iteration of Snapchat Spectacles. They will be stainless steel and come in rose gold! Would you wear a camera on your face? Snap thinks you will.

Subreddit of the Week: This week TNW pointed to a subreddit with 50,000 members called r/googlemapsshenanigans that documents hilarious finds in Google Maps, like censored cats, people posing for the Google Car, and jet contrails.

VSCO Girls? If you’ve been around a pre-teen or teenage girl this month you’ve probably heard about scrunchies, big shirts, metal straws and saving the turtles while talking in a valley girl accent. It’s a trend called VSCO Girls, and it’s as pervasive as it is annoying. The meme is derived from the photo editing app VSCO, which lets users share photos and make preset filters to help keep their images looking uniform. The trend is taking over Instagram and TikTok videos among this age group. This video pretty much sums it up. Save the turtles!