Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger told the world today what they’ve been doing in the four years since they walked away from their creation.
The answer is working on various next-generation social apps, including the one they released today – or at least today said people can join an invitation list to sign up for a beta version of the app. They describe the app, called Artifact, as “a personalized news feed using the latest AI tech.”
The name denotes a mash of three words: articles, facts, and artificial intelligence. It will employ machine learning technology to better understand what kind of content a person reads online That could be blog posts on Substack, features in the Washington Post, or general news reports that appear in mainstream or not-so-mainstream media.
After a certain amount of time, the app should be able to pull out content that the person will no doubt want to see, so when they open the app, there will be a curated list of stories based on what they have shown interest in before. Since it’s a learning technology, the more the person reads, the better the machine gets at putting the right articles into the Feed.
After the two released Instagram in 2010, the app skyrocketed in terms of monthly users and valuation. When Meta Platforms Inc. (then Facebook Inc.) bought Instagram for a cool $1 billion in 2012, both Krieger and Systrom stayed on and only left in 2018 when it was rumored there’d been various disagreements with Meta’s Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg. The two also promised to explore their “creativity.”
In an interview with Platformer, Systrom described the app as a “kind of TikTok for text, though you might also call it Google Reader reborn as a mobile app or maybe even a surprise attack on Twitter.” Concerning the latter, once users have the stories they want, there will be every opportunity to talk about them with their friends on their Feed. There will also be a direct messaging feature.
It sounds like fun, and it could be useful if the AI is good at its job and doesn’t curate lists of stories the user doesn’t want to read. It’s not the first time someone has released a personalized news app, and they have crash and burned in the past. The question is, how smart will Artifact be, and will it surprise the user each day with stories they might not have found without the app?