Written by Clio Goh, Benjamin Oi and Leonard Koh

YouTube Comments Now Hidden By Default

Needless to say, YouTube is home to the most toxic comment section on the internet, much to the company’s chagrin. It is a dangerous, dangerous place. So instead of making users read or chance upon this no man’s land, YouTube is now working on a new feature that would hide comments by default.

It is currently testing a new layout in the Android app that hides comments unless you press a button to reveal them. However, according to XDA Developers, the rollout hasn’t expanded beyond India for now.

For avid YouTube users, you would probably know that comments lie beneath the “Up Next” section of video recommendations. This new test layout completely hides them unless you tap on the “Comments” button, which would be located prominently between “Dislike” and “Share”.

This, however, does make it easier to access comments. But if you’re on YouTube just for the videos and not the comments, this could be a great change for you.

In a statement to TechCrunch, YouTube confirmed, “We’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch, share and interact with the videos that matter most to them. We are testing a few different options on how to display comments on the watch page. This is one of many small experiments we run all the time on YouTube, and we’ll consider rolling features out more broadly based on feedback on these experiments.”

Instagram Tests Stop-Motion

Instagram is reportedly working on a new Stories capture mode which allows users to create stop motion animation. Stop motion is a traditional cinematographic technique that was first used to give illustrated figures the impression of movement.

Tweet by @wongmjane: “Instagram's new Stopmotion Story Camera Mode hands-on demo”

Currently, in development, Instagram’s new stop motion mode captures up to 10 static frames which then plays back as a continuous animation. In comparison to the previous stop-motion mode (introduced in early 2018 and discontinued in Aug 2018), the new mode assists the creation process by ghosting the current frame being captured with the previous frame, so users can ensure that placement and movement are correctly lined up. 

This adds on to Instagram’s ever-increasing camera capabilities and provides an additional creative format for storytelling.

Influencers, Beware: We’ll Soon Be Able to Spot the Difference

Deepfakes and fake faces are becoming increasingly common and sometimes sinister. People are quickly losing their trust in digital media. In order to fix the eroding trust in the online environment, Adobe — a name synonymous with edited imagery — collaborated with scientists from UC Berkeley to develop an AI machine that is learning to automatically detect facial manipulation in images.

Example of a manipulated photo, the defects spotted by the algorithm and, the original image.

To create the software, engineers trained a neural network on a database of paired faces, containing images both before and after they’d been edited using Liquify. The resulting algorithm is impressively effective. When asked to spot a sample of edited faces, the machine was correct 99% of the time, whereas human volunteers only got it right 53% of the time time. On top of that, the AI can also suggest how to restore the photo to its original, unedited appearance, though these results are often mixed.

Though it’s just a research project for the moment, it's off to a promising start. The AI machine can’t put a halt to the harmful effects of manipulated media. Research suggests that fake news spreads faster and deeper than the truth. Even if the content is obviously false or can be quickly debunked, online users will still share and embrace it on social media. However, knowing something is fake is only half the battle, but at least it’s a start. 

The AI tool suggests the increasing awareness of media manipulation. Influencers and content creators might need to relook at their content as the carefully staged, colour-corrected, glossy-looking aesthetic look is now dated. It’s no longer cool to be manufactured. Now more than ever, people want realness and authenticity on social media.