Popular Messaging App Banned from Servicing Young Users

Federal regulators have taken the unprecedented step of banning the NGL messaging platform from providing service to users under 18. The action is part of a legal settlement between NGL Labs, the Federal Trade Commission and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. NGL, whose niche is “anonymous” communication and features the tagline “Ask me anything,” has also agreed to pay $5 million in fines. An FTC investigation found that in addition to fraudulent business claims about divulging the identities of message senders for a fee, NGL also falsely claimed it used artificial intelligence to filter out cyberbullying and harmful messages. Continue reading Popular Messaging App Banned from Servicing Young Users

Snapchat Previews Instant AR Filters, GenAI Developer Tools

Snap Inc. teased a new on-device AI model capable of real-time filter creation in-app using Snapchat. At last week’s Augmented World Expo in Long Beach, California, Snap co-founder and CTO Bobby Murphy explained that the model, which runs on smartphones, can re-render frames on the fly guided by text prompts. Snap’s unnamed prototype model “can instantly bring your imagination to life in AR,” Snap says, explaining “this early prototype makes it possible to type in an idea for a transformation and generate vivid AR experiences in real time.” Continue reading Snapchat Previews Instant AR Filters, GenAI Developer Tools

Google Adds Open-Source Gameface for Android Developers

In a move aimed at launching more accessible Android apps, Google has open-sourced code for Project Gameface, a hands-free game control feature released last year that allows users to move a computer with facial and head gestures. Developers will now have more Gameface resources with which to build Android applications for physically challenged users, “to make every Android device more accessible.” Project Gameface evolved as a collaboration with quadriplegic video game streamer Lance Carr, who has muscular dystrophy. The technology uses a smartphone’s front camera to track movement. Continue reading Google Adds Open-Source Gameface for Android Developers

Telegram Adds Business Features to Challenge Meta, Google

Messaging app Telegram has added business account features to create a custom start page, listings, maps, hours of operation, chatbot support and more. Anyone can turn their Telegram account into a Telegram Business account, and users don’t need coding skills. Public channels with 1,000 or more subscribers can receive 50 percent of the revenue from ads shown in their channels. Based in Dubai, Telegram says the channels of its global users generate over 1 trillion monthly views. In February it unveiled an ad program that adopted the TON blockchain’s Toncoin as its native currency. Continue reading Telegram Adds Business Features to Challenge Meta, Google

LinkedIn Tests Vertical Video Feed, Experiments with Games

Microsoft-owned business and employment-focused social platform LinkedIn plans to add games and a vertical-scroll feed of short videos. But the career-centric platform will still be all work, even as it adds play. The intent is to have the TikTok-like video feed filled with professionally themed content, and the games will be geared toward relationship building, while also potentially getting people to spend more time using LinkedIn. The video feed is in the test phase, while code hinting at the direction of the gaming feature has been discovered by some astute app watchers. Continue reading LinkedIn Tests Vertical Video Feed, Experiments with Games

Spotify In-House Agency AUX to Connect Brands with Music

Spotify is rolling out AUX, an in-house music advisory agency for brands. “With AUX, we’ll use our deep expertise to counsel brands about how best to use music to enrich their campaigns and connect them with emerging artists to help them reach new audiences,” Spotify announced, joining Meta Platforms, YouTube, Snapchat and others in connecting creatives with brands. AUX aims to provide emerging artists with an avenue to another potential income source, as well as a path to wider exposure, as the idea is to get brands to pay Spotify to access the new service. Continue reading Spotify In-House Agency AUX to Connect Brands with Music

Florida Pushes Forward a Social Media Ban for Kids Under 16

Florida’s legislature has passed a bill banning children younger than 16 from having social media accounts despite some pushback from Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he will be wrestling with whether to sign the measure into law. Due to a procedural requirement, DeSantis will have to sign or veto the proposed legislation before lawmakers conclude the current session in a matter of weeks. He has expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of a provision to let parents override the restriction, which would curtail access to the most popular sites, potentially impacting TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. Continue reading Florida Pushes Forward a Social Media Ban for Kids Under 16

YouTube, Facebook Most Popular Social Apps Among Adults

While YouTube and Facebook are the most-used platforms among U.S. adults, TikTok is the fastest growing, according to a new Pew Research survey on social media usage. Google’s YouTube led in popularity by a wide margin, with 83 percent of the 5,733 U.S. adults polled reporting they had used it at some point. Meta Platforms’ Facebook took second place, with 68 percent of respondents having at least tried it. Those two platforms also stood out for having the majority through each age demographic subset. Instagram, also owned by Meta, took third place, with 47 percent of respondents attesting they had used it. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Most Popular Social Apps Among Adults

GenAI Lets Snapchat+ Subscribers Create and Share Images

Snapchat+ is rolling out new artificial intelligence features that let subscribers use text prompts to create generative AI images to share with friends. In addition, the Dreams feature, which creates generative AI selfies, is now able to add your friends to those photos. Snapchat+ subscribers get one pack of 8 Dreams per month as part of their $3.99 monthly fee. An onscreen button labeled “AI” lets subscribers access the AI image generator to choose from a menu of prompts (including “sunny day at the beach” and “planet made of cheese”) or they can enter their own descriptions. Continue reading GenAI Lets Snapchat+ Subscribers Create and Share Images

Pew: U.S. Teens Fixated on Video Apps YouTube and TikTok

Teenagers in the U.S. are finding it hard to tear themselves away from YouTube and TikTok, according to a new study of 13- to 17-year-olds by the Pew Research Center. Pew found that “nearly 1 in 5 saying they use the video-streaming apps ‘almost constantly.’” YouTube topped the chart for the second consecutive year, with 93 percent, “roughly 9 in 10 teens” saying they regularly use YouTube. That far outstrips TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, which manage to creep to about 70 percent among a subset of teens 15 to 17. Among the total teen sample, that falls to 63 percent for TikTok, 60 percent for Snapchat and 59 percent for Instagram, according to Pew. Continue reading Pew: U.S. Teens Fixated on Video Apps YouTube and TikTok

Snapchat Latest Social Site to Link Amazon for In-App Sales

Amazon continues its push into social shopping, partnering with Snapchat to allow sale of some products to U.S. users directly through the app. Amazon’s Snapchat ads will display real-time pricing, Prime eligibility and delivery estimates, as well as product details. Snapchat users will be able to link their Amazon accounts via a one-time set-up, with purchases defaulting to their preferred Amazon payment method and shipping address (unless otherwise specified). Both Amazon products and those through the e-commerce giant’s independent sellers will be included in the program. Continue reading Snapchat Latest Social Site to Link Amazon for In-App Sales

Snap Adds ChatGPT and Other New Tools to AR Lens Editor

Since Snap released its Lens Studio tool in 2017, creators have become “the fuel of Snap AR,” the company says by way of announcing Lens Studio 5.0 Beta, representing a major overhaul of the editor. The development tool now includes a ChatGPT API, improved version control, and more support for teams. The company also launched a Lens Performance Toolkit to help optimize reach and engagement. Performance optimization has resulted in load times that are 18x faster, Snap says, noting “a project that used to take 25 seconds to open now only takes seconds — resetting the bar for productivity.” Continue reading Snap Adds ChatGPT and Other New Tools to AR Lens Editor

Disney+, Maybelline Sign Up for Snapchat’s ‘Phantom House’

With internal Snapchat data indicating 80 percent of its members plan to use the service during Halloween activities, the platform was eager to scare up a special treat. What it came up with is an immersive original series called “Phantom House.” Disney+ and Maybelline are among the first sponsors to sign-up for the weekly installments spanning across Snap’s Chat, Camera, Stories and Spotlight tabs. “’Phantom House’ will come to life during Advertising Week New York through an out-of-home takeover” that includes a live activation, according to Snap. Continue reading Disney+, Maybelline Sign Up for Snapchat’s ‘Phantom House’

Meta Plans Personality-Driven Chatbots to Boost Engagement

Meta Platforms is amping up its AI play, with plans to launch a suite of personality-driven chatbots as soon as next month. The company has been developing the series of artificially intelligent character bots with a goal of using them to boost engagement with its social media brands by making them available to have “humanlike discussions” on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Internally dubbed “personas,” the chatbots simulate characters ranging from historical figures like Abraham Lincoln to a surfer dude that dispenses travel advice. Continue reading Meta Plans Personality-Driven Chatbots to Boost Engagement

Search Stays Strong and YouTube Rebounds in Alphabet Q2

Alphabet posted a strong second quarter, with Google Cloud revenue climbing 28 percent year-over-year, to $8.03 billion, and overall revenue gaining 7 percent, to $74.6 billion, exceeding analyst expectations, as did the $18 billion in net income. Google Search ad sales grew by nearly 5 percent, to $42.6 billion, while ad sales from Google’s YouTube streaming platform rose almost 4 percent, to $7.7 billion. YouTube had in recent quarters sustained revenue declines, attributed to increased competition from TikTok and others, but was finally able to reverse the downward trend. Continue reading Search Stays Strong and YouTube Rebounds in Alphabet Q2