Written by Benjamin Oi, Leonard Koh and Clio Goh.
Now everyone can create their own Instagram face filters
Facebook’s tool for building augmented reality effects, Spark AR, has finally moved out of closed beta and is now accessible for everyone. The tool allows creators and brands to make their own Instagram face filters and share them via a new Effect gallery tab on their own profiles. Previously, Instagram users would have to follow a creator’s profile in order to add effects to their in-app camera. In addition, a new “Browse effects” option at the end of the effects tray will allow users to discover new AR effects easily. Facebook claims that more than a billion people have already used AR effects created on the Spark AR platform, which are compatible across Instagram, Facebook, Messenger and Portal.
With 500 million daily users on Instagram Stories, this brings direct competition to Snapchat’s face lenses which already has a library of 300,000 custom lenses created on Snap’s Lens Studio since 2017.
Instagram has a plan to tackle fake news
With fake news constantly plaguing the realms of social media (spread across widely by boomers who so often deem them true), Instagram is slowly taking up arms to combat them.
The platform is enabling users to report posts that they think might contain “false information” and those post would be cross-checked by one of Instagram’s fact-checker. Failing to pass this fact-checker could result in the post being hidden from Instagram’s Explore page and hashtag pages.
Although implementations are in place, Instagram chose to focus on Explore and hashtag pages rather than its feed and it will not alert users if they interact with the post. And even if they are reported and debunked, it will still appear on the feed of those who follow the account and not so much for non-followers to stumble onto them.
Lastly, Instagram uses a combination of factors to decide if the reports are to be sent to a fact-checker. But even then, the methods used by these fact-checkers are not known.
Facebook set to remove group chat function
Facebook Groups was launched a year ago so members could have real-time communication with other group members, separate from post comments. The chats were available for up to 250 members for text and 50 members for audio or video.
Starting last week, the option to start new chats in a Facebook Group is no longer available. However, users are still able to read the chats but can no longer send messages as the chat is archived.
Facebook specified that this retired function was geared to Facebook Groups and not messages between 2 or more people. Users can still start a group chat with anyone they’re friends with or are connected to in Messenger.
There is some speculation that this change is intended to limit “spammers” in group chats. With the increased capacity for people to connect in a single group, any member of the group which hosts these chats has the capacity to “blast” messages to a large group, which could affect users’ privacy when strangers who they’re tangentially connected to via a Facebook group are able to send them a private message.
Facebook still has plans to keep real-time communication within Facebook Groups but these future plans are still unknown at this point.