Archives For socialpulse

RIP The massively popular lip-sync app this week was scuttled by its new Chinese owner, Bytedance, who paid $1 billion for the service last year. User accounts were ported to Bytedance’s Vine-like video app called TikTok. These apps are not as similar as you would think, and the public outcry of users this week was fierce. And some of us are still getting ads for on TikTok itself. The social singing trend is not going away anytime soon, however. Look for Facebook’s Lip-Sync Live and Talent Show to emerge as strong alternatives in the coming months.


Smart Mirror Madness: “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest tech-company-with-a-scan-of-my-naked-body-stored-on-their-servers of all?” This week 3D body-scanning startup Naked Labs raised $14 million and started shipping its first product —  a $1,400 smart mirror that uses biometric scanning technology to assess your health and fitness, and offer training and nutrition tips. Naked is in talks with ecommerce companies about using this data to personalize clothing and shopping, too. Amazon recently acquired a 3D body scanning startup of its own and has been testing “commercial applications,” such as custom-fit clothes. Will mirrors be the future of fitness and shopping? Probably not. But the trend of having a 3D biometric scan of yourself to shop and get health advice is one to watch.


Midterm Meddling Underway: This week Facebook announced it had deleted 32 pages and fake accounts that it says are part of a false influence campaign designed to influence the midterm elections. The company did not link the pages to Russia, but Facebook officials said the tactics they used were similar to those of the Kremlin’s Internet Research Agency. By proactively disabling the accounts but not directly placing blame, Facebook is testing a new strategy to be seen more as a platform than a responsible curator of content.

Here’s a key quote from Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos: “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation state. As a result, we don’t think it’s appropriate for Facebook to give public commentary about the public motivations of a nation state.”


Amazon Patents a Real-Time Accent Translator: You know that feeling where you and another person are speaking the same language but their accent is so thick you’re having trouble understanding? Well, Amazon has applied for a patent for an audio system that detects the accent of a speaker and changes it to the accent of the listener, potentially eliminating that breakdown. Given advances in natural language processing, Alexa’s deep base of audio sampling, and our continued outsourcing of customer support — with millions of phone calls between people in distant countries where accents can be a barrier – it’s exciting to think about new maching learning technology that would improve the quality of communication.


The 6 Kinds of Terrible Yelp Posters: We love Yelp, especially when exploring restaurants in a new city. But after a while you can start to suss out themes, patterns, and troll behavior from the reviews you’ll see – no matter the locale. This week The Outline published a hilarious article about the six kinds of terrible posters on Yelp, including The Self-Proclaimed Newbie, The Fearful Reviewer, The Language Police, The Way Too Long Review, The Expert Review and The Harping on Service Review. 5 out of 5 you’ll never read a Yelp review the same way again.



Google Introduces Move Mirror: Remember the Google Arts and Culture phenomenon that seemed to sweep the internet just a few short months ago? Well, our friends at Google are at it again but this time, watching you move! Earlier this weeklaunched project Move Mirror, allowing users to step in front of their webcam and watch the software match real-time movements to hundreds of images of people doing similar poses around the world. We love this as Google continues to look for simple uses of complicated software + AI to instill an understanding that would, for most, be unachievable else wise. So, what are you waiting for… TRY IT OUT!

Move Mirror


Watch Party Launches Around the World: Facebook launches Watch Party a new tool which allows users to build custom groups to watch live or recorded video with one another. Streaming still seems to be the buzz word at the center of video distribution and entertainment. With cable companies like Comcast trying to bridge that gap between linear and streaming– their solve was to create cable packages that include Netflix. We’ll be curious to see how linear and streaming institutions engage with Facebook and Watch Party specifically and whether or not this feature will allow Facebook to keep more users on the platform consuming video content natively on the site.



Shark Week’s 30th Anniversary: Discovery’s 2018 Shark Week season comes to an end this Sunday, having successfully scared beach-goers for 30 summers now. Each year the must-watch, must-tweet event seems to get even bigger with its partner activations (29 licensed deals this year alone) and grow ever fonder in the hearts of consumers. Here’s a quick round up of some of the integrations and social nods from 2018: Shaq-Week-O’neal: Host; Southwest Airlines; Build-A-Bear; SpongeBob; Pokemon; Shultz (Peanuts); and Tinder.

Ooooo fancy stitching! #SharkWeek

A post shared by SpongeBob SquarePants (@spongebob) on


Tommy Hilfiger creates “Smart” clothes, for some reason: A new Tommy Hilfiger clothing line will have smart-chips embedded in them. The clothing, when paired with a mobile app via bluetooth, will track when and how often you wear them. You will be awarded “points” for wearing the Tommy gear. These points can be redeemed for gift cards, signed merchandise, etc. Why somebody would want Tommy Hilfiger spying on their personal clothing choices is anybody’s guess.



Liquid water “Lake” revealed on Mars: Under the big red planet’s south polar ice cap is a 20km wide frozen lake that is said to contain liquid water. The discovery was made using radar technology aboard the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Mars Express orbiter and sparked multiple trending topics this week. Sunken pontoons and crushed cans of beer have yet to be found.

The planet Mars

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)


  • 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)