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Social Media Roundup: The “Let’s All Copy Snapchat,” Edition

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A lot is happening in the world of social media, too much for one person to follow. That’s why IDM is here to keep you up-to-date on the latest news and trends within the industry. This month, we cover Facebook’s new research initiative, a handful of acquisitions, and a whole lot of people trying to keep up with Snapchat.

Facebook Images
Zuck & Co are opening their research to the public, meaning even you could help usher-in the next major breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Let us back up a second. Computer vision tools like Deepmask, SharpMask and MultiPathNet help Facebook automatically identify images (like when they suggest which of your friends to tag by recognizing their facial features). Now Facebook is working to upgrade their capability in photo recognition, and they’re looking for help. Whether more accurate photo analysis will create new business opportunities or usher in an Orwellian dystopia remains unclear.

Facebook Ditches Trending Topics’ Human Touch
Facebook received plenty of negative press for trending topics earlier this year after Gizmodo ran an article accusing the social media giant with bias against conservative news sources. In an attempt to improve the scalability and impartiality of the product, Facebook ditched the human editors and descriptions under the trends. The company created an entirely automated algorithm to take their place which (surprise surprise) has already fallen for fake viral stories about Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly.

More Imitators Vie for Snapchat’s Success
If he was around today, Mark Twain might’ve been talking about social media when he said, “there is no such thing as a new idea.”

Enter Apple, who is rumored to be the latest in a long line of Silicon Valley stalwarts trying to imitate Snapchat with its own video app. Originally reported by Bloomberg, Apple is planning to create a video editing app with filters, but there are few details yet as to what exactly the product might be or how it will improve on Snapchat.

Which brings us to another copy-cat service. Instagram Stories, which we covered in the last round-up, is actually trying something new: recommending story accounts. Instagram hopes this service will entice more users and generate growth. On top of that, Instagram added Events to its Explore functionality, allowing users to explore content from live events like concerts or sporting events, similar to Snapchat’s discover channels.

Now let’s back track to Facebook. In his recent opinion piece, Josh Constine from TechCrunch presented a case for Facebook to work with outside developers on a new feature… brace yourself… that invites users to take pictures with… you guessed it… snapchat-esque filters. He believes that by inviting other creatives to build with the platform, Facebook would be able to present exciting changes to the filter game.

Facebook Launches Lifestage
It’s Facebook… for hip young teens! Helmed by the 19-year-old wunderkind Michael Sayman, the new app gives users 21 and under a fresh new way to stay tight with their homies. Lifestage is built around video updates, similar to Snapchat (do we even have to say it at this point?). Sayman and Facebook hope Lifestage will capture the attention of a new crop of teenage users, more interested in friends’ unique video content than status updates from their weird second-cousin they met once.

Snapchat Acquires Vurb, Pinterest Acquires Instapaper
Vurb, the mobile search startup, was bought for $110 Million, leading insiders to speculate Snapchat may be developing a way to make plans with friends on the platform. The true intentions are still a mystery, but we’re guessing plenty of competitors will be scrambling to do it themselves once it’s revealed.

Pinterest will be acquiring the team behind the bookmarking app Instapaper in the hopes of improving their website. Much like their other recent acquisitions, Instapaper will continue being a separate entity while the team will work on both platforms.

Obama gets in on the VR Craze
Virtual Reality is nigh, friends. The buzz around VR headsets has become a din, and products like the Samsung Gear VR are already wowing early-adopters. Even the President has joined in, starring in a virtual reality video about the national parks and taking a pretty hilarious photo in a VR headset at the White House. We seriously recommend you look it up for a good laugh.

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