Artifact, the news aggregator from the co-founders of Instagram, is adding a social discussion feature

Posted on

Artifact, the recently launched personalized news app from the founders of Instagram, is today launching a major new feature: a social discussion section. Previously in private testing, the feature introduces a way for users to comment on and join conversations around news articles they read on the service. With today’s update, all Artifact users will now see comments on articles, the company says.

To leave a comment of their own, Artifact users must first create a profile on the service – a relatively simple process that requires you to add and verify your phone number. This first step will help fight spam, the company notes.

These display names aren’t unique, meaning no one has to fight over their name like they do on Instagram. While Artifact encourages people to use their full names, it allows pseudonyms.

The addition of the feature makes Artifact more of a social network centered around news, rather than just the personalized news reading experience it offered at launch. It also makes Artifact more competitive with other places where people share news and information, including larger platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter. Artifact already offered a way to see which articles were popular in your own personal network, but without identifying the users who read them, as Twitter does through its Twitter Blue Subscription Feature “Top Articles.

Of course, entering a more social networking space carries some potential pitfalls for any business, as it can invite bad actors into engaging in harassment, abuse, or spam, among other things.

Artifact says it will approach moderation in a number of ways. For starters, it gives each new profile a “reputation score” that is based on community upvotes and downvotes on user comments. This is similar to Reddit’s voting mechanism, or even Twitter’s Community Notes fact-checking feature, but with the addition of an actual, visible score that is displayed to all users.

The app displays a user’s reputation score — a numerical number — next to each commenter’s display name and on each community member’s profile, the company explains. In addition, this score will also play a role in determining how comments are ranked. That is, Artifact will use an algorithm that weighs the user’s reputation, the score of the specific comment, and a variety of other signals.

In addition, Artifact says it will use AI models to detect problematic content. This flagged content is then reviewed for compliance with Artifact’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Service. If it doesn’t meet those guidelines, it will be removed. The company said it will also ban profiles “if necessary” — that is, in the most extreme violations of its policies.

Over time, this experience may evolve as Artifact learns more about what is most effective.

“We’re starting simple here and will learn what works best based on our experience in the first few weeks,” Artifact co-founder Kevin Systrom writes in an email. “My belief is that one of the most interesting things to do around news and written content is to discuss it with others – this feature is the first step in a direction that will make Artifact more social and bring life to a community around news .”

Artifact first launched in January as something akin to a “TikTok for news,” or rather a US-based alternative to other personalized news aggregators like ByteDance’s Toutiao in China or SmartNews in Japan. The app combines a variety of trusted sources into one interface, where your engagement and reading habits inform recommendation algorithms that help you discover the news you’re most interested in. filter bubbles’ as the app offers a grouping of headlines from different sources on any topic as you dive in to read. Plus, you can browse the news verticals for the top stories in the app beyond your “For You” page recommendations.

For now, the app is free to use during the early development phase. It may eventually choose to make money by sharing revenue with publishers, though nothing has been decided yet.

Artifact is available in most English-language App Stores and on Android.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *