Twitter's Project Lightning, Facebook's Facial Recognition Moments App, and Snapchat's Evan Spiegel Explains it All
This week in social media, Twitter unveiled Project Lightning, its best hope to open up Twitter's biggest strength to multiple platforms, users, and non-users alike. Meanwhile, Facebook tinkered with the News Feed again and introduced an app that recognizes faces in your camera roll. Finally, Snapchat's CEO explained to the millions of bewildered parents of Snapchatters just what the heck their kids are always doing on the phone.
It's time for Social Media Sunday!
Followers of Social Media Sunday may notice an unusual difference in format this week: Twitter's the lead story.
That's because this week, in unveiling Project Lightning, Twitter actually made headlines with something other than its slow, painful, ongoing fail on Wall Street.
Project Lightning, revealed in an exclusive behind-the-scenes report by BuzzFeed, may become the central, positive pillar of outgoing Twitter CEO Dick Costolo's legacy leading the company -- if it lives up to the hype when it's launched later this year. But this Twitter initiative looks so promising, it could.
Since it went live nearly a decade ago at the Austin, Texas music, film and technology festival South by Southwest, one of Twitter's unique and enduring strengths in the social media world has been live events. Whether it's an ongoing shootout between police and terrorism suspects in Boston or the other kind of shootout on a soccer field, Twitter has always been the place to go for the latest updates.
Project Lightning hopes to build on that strength by using teams of curators to package collections of tweets -- with a strong emphasis on immersive visuals, including images, videos, Vines and Periscope livestreams -- to hook Twitter users and, the company hopes, many more outside its confines, into tracking live events.
This -- perhaps more than recent hires by Snapchat or timeline tweaks by Facebook -- could be what it looks like when a social media platform really starts acting more like a journalistic media organization. And with Project Lightning, Twitter hopes to make these live curated collections ubiquitous across the web, and across platforms, reaching inactive Twitter users and the millions who never really "got" Twitter before.
"There's a beautiful connection to our strategy of reaching users on every platform," said Twitter Project Lightning chief Kevin Weil to BuzzFeed. "It's not just logged-in Twitter, it's logged-out, and it's syndicated on other websites and mobile apps. This reaches all of them... But you can easily imagine them as logged-out experiences telling about something happening now out in the world. And you can imagine them -- and this is new -- as collections and syndicating them across any website or mobile app."
New Shopping Features
In a less exciting development -- more along the lines of what we're used to with Twitter -- the company began testing new ways to incorporate shopping and advertising in users' timelines.
With the new update, wrote Twitter's blog, "You'll be able to browse rich collections from influencers you care about and get more information about the products or places you find interesting."
Whoopie! Now focus on getting us this "lightning" please.
New Changes to News Feed
Facebook is either a perfectionist or it'll never get the News Feed right (depending on your experience). In another change to the central Facebook feature, the company has announced it's testing a new feature called "See First," according to Tech Crunch, who first spotted the new button.
When you hit "See First" on a Page or profile, Facebook will automatically put that user's content at the top of your News Feed. They could've called it "super-follow."
It's also the first new control for your News Feed that doesn't work by omission (like unfriend, unfollow, or "don't show") since the original "Follow" or perhaps "show notifications" option.
Moments App: Facebook's AI Does Face Recognition, Too
Google Photos, as we reported in our hands-on review earlier, uses AI to organize your photo collection for you. It's very convenient -- and it creeped us out a bit.
Now, as reported by TheVerge, Facebook has launched a new app (for Android and iOS) that uses its AI to recognize faces from photos gathering digital dust in your camera roll and bring them back to your attention as privately sharable... well, Moments. It's meant to help users actually do something with the dozens of photos they forget about immediately after taking.
And it's also creepy.
Spiegel 'Splains All
This week in a YouTube explainer with all the production quality of a hostage video, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel spent a few minutes explaining what Snapchat is to old people.
At least, that seemed to be the target audience by his choice of vocabulary: "advent of the mobile phone", "connected camera", "using photographs to talk."
Kidding aside, if you're older than college age, or have otherwise found yourself on the outside of the Snapchat revolution, Speigel's short (and sweet) non-tech-geek-friendly dissertation on what's become a private company worth an estimated $19 billion is pretty informative and worth the couple of minutes.
Check it out on your "personal computer," right within this "web page" below.
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