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An A.I. News App from Instagram’s Founders Could Be the Next Big Thing

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom says that A.I. technology has improved enough to provide a good recommendation system for news stories.

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A.I. Newsfeed. Hi everyone. While chatbots are dominating the current A.I. craze, there’s far more to A.I.’s potential than summarizing the internet. In fact, a new app from the co-founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, suggest that A.I. could play an important role in improving our media consumption.

Finding high-quality content in the modern media landscape isn’t easy. We’re all forced to sift through a large, noisy fire hose of information. My daily routine consists of endlessly scrolling through social media feeds and manually visiting many websites to find the day’s relevant news.

The new app from Systrom and Krieger, who sold their photo-sharing app to
Meta Platform’s
(ticker: META)
for $1 billion in 2012, aims to solve this problem. And it just might work.

The app is called Artifact. The two founders unveiled the artificial intelligence-powered news product last week in a private beta release for iOS and Android. Users can sign up for the wait list on the startup’s website.

In an interview with the Platformer, Systrom said the app’s name came from an amalgamation of the words article, fact, and artificial intelligence. He told the outlet that A.I. technology has improved to the point where a robust recommendation engine for news was now possible.

I have been actively using Artifact for the past week. At first, I was a bit underwhelmed. It looked like another
News (
) or Google News app clone, showing a home feed of selected articles from a curated list of news publishers and independent blogs.

But the more I used it, the more I was impressed. The app’s design is top notch. Given their background building Instagram, it’s clear the app’s creators know what they’re doing. The interface is clean and intuitive. A hard press on a headline unveils attractive easy-to-read functional icons such as “hide publisher.” There is also greater information density to each of the tabs compared to its major competitors, saving time without the need to do more scrolling.

The A.I. content personalization is effective. Platformer dubbed the app as a “TikTok for text.” I think the description is apt. For instance, TikTok finely hones itself to its users’ interests by tracking which videos they like or spend more time viewing. In the same way, Artifact measures how often you click on particular sources and topics, but more important, how long you spend reading the articles. The algorithm then surfaces similar pieces in the future.

I have been regularly discovering good articles I want to read on my Artifact’s home feed that I haven’t found elsewhere. And a quick glance at Artifact’s “Headlines” tab shows me a comprehensive roundup of the day’s major trending stories.

Artifact’s creators have deeper societal goals. A couple of years ago, Systrom said he was working on creating a better content discovery system using A.I. He lamented how ad-based internet engagement business models incentivized bad-faith actors to post misinformation and emotionally divisive posts. The future of social networks “is far less about people manipulating distribution and far more about, is this content good?” Systrom said at the time.

Artifact is the net result. Systrom has said he only intends to onboard publishers with editorial standards for accuracy. I noticed dozens of mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, and Scientific American, along with a few specialized high quality tech blogs like Daring Fireball and Stratechery. The general filter for quality seems on the mark.

Systrom told the Platformer they are looking to add additional social networking features, including the ability to follow other users to see what they are reading, a comment section for articles, and direct messaging. Artifact didn’t respond to a request for comment on about the additional features.

Will Artifact become as big as TikTok? Not likely. But it could be a welcome change for people who want to find the best content and improve the quality of online discourse. So far, I’m happy with the results, and I hope the app succeeds.

This Week in Barron’s Tech Coverage

Write to Tae Kim at or follow him on Twitter at @firstadopter


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