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Instagram’s IGTV could soon challenge YouTube’s dominance

June 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Instagram was born as a simple photo-sharing app in 2010, but it began moving into video in 2013, when it started letting users upload short clips. Now, five years after making that initial push into the space, the company plans to take its efforts even further with the launch of IGVT. It’s a standalone app that’ll feature vertical videos up to an hour long, which is major shift from the one-minute time limit on Instagram. IGTV will also have a dedicated space in the main Instagram app, in case you want to watch these videos in the same place you look at pictures and Stories. With creators including Fortnite champ Ninja and singer Lele Pons on board, it’s clear Instagram wants to lure internet personalities like them to IGTV — even if it can’t pay them just yet.

Although CEO Kevin Systrom did tell a group of reporters that monetization options will be available to IGTV users down the road, Instagram missed a huge opportunity to become a serious threat to YouTube on day one. Especially as YouTubers are desperately looking for alternatives to Google’s video site. The company is continuously changing its advertising guidelines — which affects how channels earn money. Last year, during an effort to automatically demonetize offensive videos, YouTube ended up stripping innocent creators of revenue. It eventually made amends and fixed its mistake, but not before it led to an avalanche of very public complaints from YouTubers about what they called “adpocalypse.”These constant shifts in YouTube’s monetization rules, and its algorithms, have led some creators to have public breakdowns and address growing mental health problems caused by the anxiety of their jobs. The pressure of having to constantly produce new content, while worrying about whether their videos may end up violating the service’s ad guidelines, has become a stressful ordeal. So, for those making a living out of YouTube, other sources of revenue would be more than welcome.

This should be where IGTV comes in. But Instagram decided to push its product out the door without any of the tools necessary for creators to actually make money. Of course, it could easily run into similar issues as Google. But YouTube’s problems are well-documented and could provide a rough roadmap for what to do and what not to. Even though Instagram doesn’t have a way to pay creators yet, there’s obvious interest from some of the world’s biggest — as shown by Ninja and Lele Pons’ presence at the launch event. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise, since it would be a mistake for any of them to ignore an app that now has 1 billion monthly active users and counting.

“We’re not starting there because we’re trying to just give a good consumer experience,” Ashley Yuki, Instagram’s product manager, told Engadget about the decision to leave ads out of IGTV at first. These videos can have links in their description, which could direct

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A first look at Instagram's IGTV

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

As rumored, Instagram is ready to get into long-form video. And today the company made those plans official with the reveal of IGTV, its new standalone video app geared toward internet creators, like the ones who have made a living out of YouTube. IGTV is all about vertical videos, and although it has its own app, you can get the full experience within the main Instagram application, too — from uploading to keeping up with your favorite content makers, including the cutest dog on earth, Jiffpom. Inside Instagram, soon you’ll see an icon that’ll take you into the full vertical video experience, or you can choose to download the IGTV app if you want to keep Stories and pictures out of it.

Instagram says it wanted to give people the option to choose, rather than forcing them into a separate experience. Once you’re in IGTV, the experience is quite seamless. You’ll instantly see videos from people you already follow on Instagram, and then you swipe to the side to keep browsing. If you swipe up, you can discover more content through four different tabs: “For you,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching,” which you can like, comment on or send to your Instagram friends via direct message.

Gallery: Instagram IGTV hands-on | 8 Photos 8 +4

IGTV is going to be perfect for creators with thousands or millions of followers — especially since Instagram has an audience of 1 billion monthly active users — but anyone with an account can upload videos up to an hour long. Yes, you too can try to become an influencer on IGTV. Instagram said that the hour-long limit is only for the launch, since it plans to eventually let people upload content without restraint.

IGTV is coming to iOS and Android in the next few days, but in the meantime, you can watch some of these vertical videos starting today in the Instagram app.

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Instagram reaches 1 billion monthly users

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Bloomberg via Getty Images

After surpassing 800 million monthly active users last September, we knew it was only a matter of time before Instagram would reach that coveted 1 billion mark — and today is that day. The company has announced its latest milestone at an event in San Francisco, where it’s also TKTKTK. With 1 billion monthly users, Instagram continues to grow at a tremendous pace since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, when it had just 40 million. If that’s not impressive, then what is?

Instagram now also joins other Facebook-owned social apps that have hit that remarkable number: Messenger (1.3 billion) and WhatsApp (1.5 billion). And then, of course, there’s Facebook, which is at 2.2 billion and counting. Despite the privacy controversies of late, it’s clear people love Facebook products, and Instagram’s growth is only one of many perfect examples.


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Instagram takes on Snapchat and YouTube with IGTV

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Alexander Koerner via Getty Images

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. For Instagram, that smoke recently came in the form of rumors about it launching a feature to host curated, long-form videos in its app. And well, there’s fire, alright. Today, at an event in San Francisco, Instagram is making its new video hub official. As expected, this is all about giving certain users the ability to upload videos that are longer than a minute (up to an hour), in a dedicated space that will be called IGVT.

This move shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that Instagram hasn’t been coy about its plans to become more than just a photo-sharing app. The company launched Stories and live broadcasts in 2016, which have since become two of its most popular features. It’s no surprise, then, that Instagram wants to expand its video efforts and use that as a tool to continue growing at a rapid pace. With more than 800 million users, the new hub will have no trouble appealing to creators who want to reach a massive audience, especially one driven by younger generations.


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Twitter is making it easier to follow your favorite topics and events

June 13, 2018 — by Engadget.com0


NurPhoto via Getty Images

Twitter has always been the ideal site for conversations and reactions around live events, be it a sports game, an awards show or serious breaking news. Up until today, you’ve been able to use the Twitter mobile apps to get notifications from specific accounts you’re into, like an NBA team or a media outlet, as well as breaking news. But now, the company wants to take that one step further and make it easier for you to see the latest about events and topics you care about. You’ll notice this in the form of push notifications that will be sent to your phone based on your particular interests, including who you follow and what you tweet about.

It’s a feature designed for Twitter to be proactive about keeping you in the know about “what’s happening now,” and the hope is that as a result you’ll spend more time in the app. If you’re worried about being spammed, Twitter says it’ll be extra conscious to not flood your device with notifications that aren’t valuable to you. And, if you want to, you do have the option to turn off these types of notifications altogether by going to your recommendation settings.

In addition to this, Twitter is making changes to Moments (they’re vertical now) and its Explore tab, which will now let you navigate by topic (such as entertainment, music, sports and technology) rather than content type (articles and videos). Similarly, Twitter’s “Happening Now” feature, which groups tweets about ongoing events on the top of your timeline, has also been tweaked to show you breaking and personalized news. Once you’re browsing that section, you’ll see tweets with text, images and videos related to whatever is taking place at that moment. Of course, the idea with all these changes is for you easily see what people are saying about the things you’re into and others that are happening around the world.

That’s not it, though. With the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia kicking off tomorrow, Twitter is rolling out a dedicated hub for the tournament and individual pages for all 64 games. If you search the app or desktop site for “World Cup,” you’ll get tweets, scores, videos and Moments about every match. Soccer (football) fans will also see this pop up at the top of their timeline, so they’ll have easy access to the news from the globe’s biggest sporting event. Here in the US, Twitter struck a pivotal deal with Fox Sports to offer users access to highlights and a show called FIFA World Cup Now, which is going to stream live from Russia during the months of June and July.

Sriram Krishnan, Twitter’s senior director of product management, told Engadget that the goal is for people to use these features to engage in “momentous” conversations in real time, about anything

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Twitter promises a fix for its age-limit account lockouts

June 13, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

hocus-focus via Getty Images

Those who recently got locked out of their Twitter accounts for being younger than 13-years-old when they’re actually much older may want to keep an eye out for a follow-up email. In a series of tweets, the social network has explained that its system “became aware of accounts that were set up by people when they were younger than 13” after it implemented product changes to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Those accounts were automatically locked, even if it has been years ago since they were created, and Twitter says it didn’t expect that to happen at all. Now, the social network has promised to help people affected by the issue get their accounts back.

The social network must have realized after hearing loads of complaints and protests that a lot of affected users aren’t in their tweens anymore. Some simply used a random day or the date of their account creation as their birthdays, and the website had no way to know they’re actually older teens or adults. Twitter chief Jack Dorsey tweeted that the platform “created some confusion here [and] are working to remedy” it.

While there’s a huge chance that those truly older than 13 can access their accounts again, they might still lose a huge chunk of their history. Since anybody younger than 13 is prohibited from tweeting, the fix Twitter is working on includes a technical solution that would allow it to delete all tweets made from the time the user was below the acceptable age limit. While the company didn’t mention how people can prevent that from happening in case they were never actually below the age limit, it said it’s “reaching out to people impacted with options to unlock their account” over the coming week.

There have been questions and concerns about accounts being locked because of age restrictions. We wanted to let you know what happened here, and what we’re doing about it. 1/6

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 12, 2018

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Watch this weekend's Governors Ball music festival live on Twitter

June 1, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Festival season is officially upon us. But if you’d rather not stand in the sun for hours to hear any of this weekend’s Governors Ball performances from New York, Twitter’s got you covered. The microblogging service will be live-streaming the concert all weekend long, with performances from Sylvan Esso, Jack White (above), Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Post Malone, Eminem, CHVRCHES and others among the scheduled acts. Note that the stream schedule embedded below is through AT&T, and is split among two different channels.

The stream starts at 4pm Eastern today, with music scheduled to start at 4:45pm, and runs through the weekend. Previously, Twitter has broadcast an Ariana Grande concert in addition to a plethora of sporting events.

tune in at 4:30pm ET to watch live

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Uganda imposes a social media tax to prevent 'gossip'

May 31, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

bigtunaonline via Getty Images

Today, Uganda’s parliament passed a controversial “social media tax.” It will consist of a daily fee of about 200 shillings (5 US cents) levied on anyone who uses social networking and messaging apps and platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. According to Trading Economics, in 2016, Uganda had a per-capita income of $666.10, so this isn’t an insubstantial tax.

President Yoweri Museveni was a vocal supporter of and advocate the bill. He believes that social media encourages “gossip,” according to BBC News. The law will go into effect as of July 1st, but it’s not clear how the government will monitor its citizens or collect the tax.

This is certainly a strange way to regulate the use of social media within a country. It’s possible there may also be a political angle here, as President Musaveni suspended access to social media apps and platforms in the run-up to the country’s 2016 presidential elections.

Uganda isn’t the only country looking to limit its population’s usage of social media, though. Papua New Guinea recently announced that the country would block access to Facebook for a month to analyze how the population is using the service. It’s not clear why the government needs to shut down access to Facebook in order to get this data, but clearly countries are interested in limiting citizens’ use of social media.

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Teens are using Facebook less and less

May 31, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Halfpoint via Getty Images

Pew Research Center released a new study today on teen social media use and among findings on internet usage, the impact of social media and smartphone access, the report notes a shift in which sites are preferred by teens. In a similar study released in 2015, Pew Research Center found that 71 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds said they used Facebook, while around half used Instagram and 41 percent used Snapchat. Now, just 51 percent of teens say they use Facebook, while YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat lead amongst the age group. Around 85 percent of US teens surveyed said they use YouTube (which wasn’t included in the 2015 study), while 72 percent and 69 percent say they use Instagram and Snapchat, respectively.

As for which sites teens say they use most often, YouTube and Snapchat take the lead, pulling in about a third of respondents each and 15 percent said they used Instagram most often. Only 10 percent said Facebook was their most visited social media site while Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr pulled in three percent, one percent and less than one percent of respondents, respectively. “The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago,” research associate Monica Anderson, the lead author of the report, said in a statement. “Back then, teens’ social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform.”

In regards to whether social media is good or bad for those that use it, teens don’t really land one way or the other. While 31 percent reported a mostly positive effect and 24 percent a mostly negative effect, around 45 percent said they didn’t think social media had a positive or negative impact. Those reporting a more positive view noted how social media helps users connect to friends and family while those believing it to have a negative impact pointed to bullying and rumor-spreading on social media sites.

Pew also found that 95 percent of teens say that have a smartphone or have access to one, as opposed to 73 percent who said the same during the 2015 study. And 45 percent of respondents said they use the internet “almost constantly,” while just 24 percent reported that same level of usage in Pew’s earlier study.

The study was conducted with 1,058 parents and 743 teens between March 7th and April 10th of this year.