By Naseera Hidayathullah and Rodrigo Bonilla

Instagram Launches New Creative Tools for Black History Month

Last week, in an effort to better connect with and appreciate their diverse user base, Instagram launched its #ShareBlackStories campaign to celebrate Black History Month in the U.S.

Users on both iOS and Android can #ShareBlackStories by using creative tools such as camera effects inspired by the rich cultural history of telling stories through African mud cloth patterns. True to the history and meaning behind the month, these camera effects were conceptualised by prominent black creators on the platform.

Even though this rollout was targeted towards U.S. audiences, we can only hope that platforms such as Instagram continue to find ways to celebrate their diverse audiences all around the world moving forward.


Instagram tests Direct Messages for Desktop

While Instagram for desktop has been available for some time now, the web version has had limited functionality in comparison to the mobile app. However, as spotted last week, the gap between Instagram’s mobile and desktop app seems to be closing, as web users may soon be able to send direct messages from the site. Given Facebook’s recent announcement revealing plans to allow cross-communication between its three messaging platforms –  Messenger, Whatsapp, and Instagram – this test is likely a sign of things to come. Just like in the mobile app, web direct messages can be accessed by clicking the paper-airplane-looking arrow icon on the top corner of the screen.

Twitter is testing a “News Camera” feature

Spotted last week, a new camera sharing option is being tested on Twitter. Seemingly named the “News Camera” based on Twitter’s code, the feature allows users to overlay text and add location details to photos, videos and Live broadcasts before sharing them to their timeline. Given the adoption and success of Snapchat Stories-like features on other platforms such as Instagram, the News Camera feature could very well increase the amount of visual content on Twitter, making for a more engaging feed and drawing more users to the platform over time.