The news aggregator created by Instagram’s co-founders, Artifact, incorporates a social discussions function.
Today marks the debut of a significant new feature on Artifact, the personalized news application recently introduced by the architects of Instagram: a social discussions component. The feature, which was previously in private testing, enables users to engage in discussions and provide comments on news articles they are currently perusing on the platform. According to the company, all Artifact users will now be able to view remarks on articles as of today’s update.

Artifact users will be required to establish a profile prior to leaving a comment. This is a relatively straightforward procedure that merely requires the input and verification of a phone number. This preliminary action will aid in spam mitigation, the company explains.

The lack of uniqueness of these display names eliminates the need for name-related disputes, as was the case on Instagram. Although users are encouraged to utilize their full identities on Artifact, pseudonyms are permitted.

The addition of this feature transforms Artifact from its initial personalized news reading experience into a social network centered on news. Additionally, this feature enhances Artifact’s competitiveness vis-à-vis other platforms where individuals disseminate news and information, such as the more sizable Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Artifact had previously provided a means to ascertain the most popular articles within one’s personal network, albeit without the ability to identify the users who were perusing them, in contrast to Twitter’s “Top Articles” subscription feature via Twitter Blue.

Obviously, increasing a company’s presence in social networking sites introduces a number of potential pitfalls, including the invitation of malicious actors who, among other things, indulge in spam, abuse, and harassment.

Artifact asserts that it will tackle moderation in multiple methods. To begin with, a “reputation score” will be assigned to each new profile, which is calculated using community upvotes and downvotes on user remarks. This is comparable to the fact-checking features of Twitter’s Community Notes and Reddit’s voting system, with the inclusion of a visible, actual score that is exhibited to all users.

The company explains that the application will display a user’s reputation score, which is a numeric value, alongside the display name of each commenter and on the profile of each community member. Additionally, this score will be utilized in the process of ranking comments. In other words, Artifact will employ an algorithm that assigns weights to a variety of signals, including the user’s reputation and the score of the specific comment.

Moreover, Artifact asserts that it will employ AI models to identify objectionable content. The compliance of this flagged content with Artifact’s community guidelines and terms of service will subsequently be evaluated. Failure to adhere to those specified criteria will result in its removal. The organization also stated that it will “if necessary” prohibit profiles, or those that violate its policies to the greatest extent possible.

“We’re beginning here simply and will learn what works best based on our experience in the first few weeks,” writes Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Artifact, in an email. “Written content and discussion with others is, in my opinion, one of the most engaging aspects of Artifact; this feature is an initial stride in a direction that will infuse Artifact with a sense of community and infuse vitality into the news community.”

Artifact was introduced in January as a U.S.-based alternative to other personalized news aggregators, such as Toutiao by ByteDance in China or SmartNews in Japan, which was compared to a “TikTok for news.” The application integrates a multitude of reliable sources into a unified interface, wherein your interactions and reading patterns contribute to recommendation algorithms that facilitate the identification of news that piques your interest the most. In contrast to social media experiences, users will not inevitably become ensnared in “filter bubbles” with this application, as it presents a compilation of headlines from various sources pertaining to any given subject as they delve into the content. Additionally, beyond the recommendations on the “For You” tab, users have the ability to peruse the most prominent news stories within the application via its news verticals.

The application is currently available for use at no cost during its early stages of development. Eventually, it may decide to generate revenue through revenue sharing with publishers; however, no decision has been made as of yet. Artifact has reportedly received close to two hundred thousand installations since its general release in late February, per data from the application intelligence firm data.ai.