Can the Instagram founders use AI to make the future of social?
Babe wake up, a new social media platform just dropped! From the founders of none other than Instagram itself, new app on the block Artifact has arrived to a somewhat muted fanfare. So we downloaded it for a week to see if there’s any fuss to be had, and as our definitely-not-clickbait-title posits, is it the future of social media?
What is it?
It’s a news app - specifically a news app that’s powered by artificial intelligence. Thrilling stuff to be sure, but what does this actually mean in a practical sense? Well, it basically just means that it uses an algorithm to give you a personalised news experience, uncovering more in-depth information about the subjects you want to know more about.
Who made it?
The aforementioned founders of Instagram. Having stepped away from the app following its acquisition by Meta, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched the app mere weeks ago, initially invite-only, but now available to all!
What makes it worth your time?
This part is of course totally subjective, but the key selling point is the AI-powered tailoring of the feed. While not unique, an app that does this specifically for news could be very appealing for those looking for as much as content possible on a particular matter.
Additionally, all sources will be vetted for quality, ensuring a certain standard of reportage across all topics.
However, algorithmic personalisation isn’t without its drawbacks. If we are to look at the TikTok algorithm, one that’s seemingly driven by the length of time spent on a particular video, this tells us what keeps their attention (and ultimately keeps them on the app) - this is arguably more suitable entertainment, but an app that intends to inform may not necessarily benefit from this approach, as it is more likely to encourage sensationalism and clickbait.
The main benefit, as far as we can see, is the separation of news from other more social, social media apps. It’s technically not social just yet either, but with beta testing for engagement options such as likes, comments, and shares currently underway, chances are it soon will be. If you just want news without it being interrupted by your cousin’s questionable sociopolitical views, or by a colleague from two jobs ago’s holiday photos, then this is definitely going to be worth a cursory download at the very least.
Is there anything else like it that I might already have?
We’ve mentioned a few of the most popular social apps throughout the course of this blog, and it definitely feels like an app that’s reacting to the user experience of these apps. From the high-level personalisation of TikTok via the presentation of Medium, minus Twitter’s slightly unhinged nature, Artifact very much feels informed by the behaviour of its peers.
What you might not know is that a veeeery similar, TikTok-owned app known as Byte Dance has a similar AI-driven approach, has over 200 million users, and is valued to the tune of $75 billion USD. If like me, this was news to you, then there’s every chance that Artifact could present as a Western alternative.
So is it the future of social media?
Hmm, sort of. It’s perhaps a little too derivative to create a paradigm shift in the world of social, but it’s definitely making a lot of the right moves to be taken seriously, particularly with its use of AI. Its material success is of course yet to be seen, but maybe in six months or a year’s time, we’ll come back and see how we’re doing. An emphatic ‘worth a gander if you’ve got time to kill’ out of 10.
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