Instagram opens up Spark AR beta | Inside Social - August, 13th 2019

Inside Social (Aug 13th, 2019)

Tumblr sold / Snap's Spectacles 3 / The secret to TikTok fame / Instagram wants AR lenses


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1. Tumblr has been sold, once again, and this time it's to San Francisco-based Automattic, which also owns Wordpress. Yahoo parent company Verizon has reportedly inked a deal to sell Tumblr for somewhere south of $10 million — Axios business editor Dan Primack heard it was actually just $3 million. That means Tumblr is now worth less than 1 percent of what Yahoo paid for it in 2013, which was a then-shocking $1.1 billion. Automattic says it plans to take on Tumblr's 200 employees and to keep all the bones of Tumblr intact. The company also plans to keep in place the ban on explicit adult content that Verizon instituted last fall, which led to a precipitous drop in Tumblr's active user base. When asked about the purchase, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said he was a longtime Tumblr user and it was "just fun." – WALL STREET JOURNAL


2. Snap is still trying to make Spectacles happen. Snap Inc. is hoping the third time's the charm for its wearable Spectacles, announcing Tuesday that Spectacles 3 will be released this fall at a far steeper price ($380) than the previous iteration ($200). The latest version will allow for direct uploads of images and video to Snapchat, and will feature dual HD cameras for added depth and dimension, and 3D image capture. The Spectacles project has seemed largely unsuccessful thus far, but the company is reportedly producing far fewer of the latest version — after taking a $40 million write-down in 2017 for unsold Spectacles. Some analysts suggest Snap doesn't need to be in the hardware business right now as it tries to reach profitability, however the wearables game also heated up today with rumors about Apple's new smart glasses, which are reportedly due out next year. – REUTERS


3. TikTok is not only marketing gold for music artists, it's creating new stars through its algorithm who would have had a much harder time gaining views or traction on Instagram or YouTube. KevboyPerry, a popular TikTok user with 2 million fans and counting, tells Rolling Stone that the app "allows people to get famous really easily," in part because of an algorithm that rewards anyone who keeps people on the app the longest. The "watch time" metric is one of the most important, and rather than constantly promoting videos from already popular users, the app searches for new content that users are responding to and watching more than a few seconds of. This has resulted in a cookie decorator in Kentucky and a dentist in Arkansas becoming stars on TikTok with management and income streams from the platform. – ROLLING STONE


4. Facebook wants in on the AR lens game, and is opening up the closed beta of its Spark AR app to any and all developers for Instagram lenses. Users may now see new AR lens effects in their camera effects tray if they're following a developer who created one, and they will be able to search for new lenses in an Effects Gallery, which will appear way at the end of the tray. Viral hype for new lenses, as Tech Crunch predicts, will likely come from their use in Instagram Stories, if they catch on at all. As it stands, Snapchat and FaceApp saw huge jumps in users this year via gender-swap and aging filters, with some users taking photos from those apps to share on Instagram and Twitter. – TECHCRUNCH


5. Facebook is pushing back on a UK probe into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, denying that it contradicted itself in evidence presented to a parliamentary committee versus what it submitted in an ongoing case in criminal court in Washington D.C.  The committee known as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the UK Parliament wrote to Facebook last month to raise concerns about discrepancies it had found in Facebook's evidence, and now the company has responded. At issue is the date when Facebook says it learned of data scraping by Cambridge Analytica and of an improper transfer of data to Cambridge by Aleksandr Kogan, which the company says it only learned of in December 2015 via a news story in the Guardian. – BLOOMBERG


6. In Brazil, where YouTube has become the most-watched content platform besides all but one television network, the company is being blamed for helping to radicalize people and push them to extreme, far-right political views. Fans of President Jair Bolsonaro, who used YouTube to help gain support and win an election last year, and members of the country's far-right political movement all say they have YouTube to thank for empowering them and getting their message out. But the site's algorithm has also helped amplify dangerous conspiracy theories and misinformation. – NEW YORK TIMES


7. More and more companies, especially social platforms, are building "lite" versions of their apps for basic smartphones, to appeal to lower-income users in the developing world. Facebook, Spotify, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube have all pushed out lighter-weight versions of their apps, and Tinder reportedly has one on the way. – CNBC


8. Facebook continues making changes to its Workplace software to compete with Slack and Microsoft Teams. The workplace-collaboration software space is seen as still in its infancy, with Microsoft being seen as having a slight advantage in terms of user numbers and integration at Fortune 100 companies. Facebook Workplace is trying to distinguish itself with built-in live-streaming, and by separating group posts out from distracting group chats. – MARKET REALIST


9. Another case of a third-party app improperly harvesting user data from Instagram posts and Stories has prompted Facebook to issue a new warning to its marketing partners. The startup Hyp3r was found to be scraping user data, including locations, from Instagram, and Facebook reiterates that all such automated data collection is prohibited. – BUSINESS INSIDER


10. In case you aren't familiar, there's a subreddit devoted entirely to bizarre things caught on camera by Google Street View. The forum, known as r/googlemapsshenanigans, has been collecting these oddities for two years, and it all began with this GIF, known as "the original shenanigan," in which two young men can be seen pulling over, hopping out of their car, and jumping on top of the hood and roof to pose for the passing camera. – THE NEXT WEB


Inside Social is written and curated by Jay Barmann. Jay has spent a decade covering the social media space and the tech world in general for SFist.com, the San Francisco branch of Gothamist. As editor of Grub Street San Francisco, he also covered the food world around the Bay Area. As a freelance writer he has written for SF Weekly, 7x7, Curbed SF, Eater SF, Eventbrite, New York Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine, among others. Follow him on Instagram at @conflator or Twitter at @jaybarmann.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).


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