Written by Nani Gupta, Loh Weirong and Ong Yuan Qi.

Bitmoji TV: Snapchat makes your Avatar a TV Star

Globally releasing in February, Snapchat introduces Bitmoji TV - a full-motion cartoon series starring users' customizable Bitmoji avatar. It's a massive evolution for Bitmoji as they go beyond the static stickers and comic-strip style Stories.

The TV series will feature users' and their friends' avatars appearing in regularly scheduled adventures ranging from playing the crew of Star Trek-y spaceships to being secret agents to falling in love with robots or becoming zombies.

In addition to boosting the worth of Bitmoji, it would also improve the quality of the Discover section on Snapchat, where the feature sits. With the recent launch of Snapchat Cameos, the company realized that the most addictive experiences center on its users' own faces, turning the selfie into the future of communication. An animated recreation of your selfie, Bitmoji TV, would give users a reason to check out Discover more often.

New Deepfake Features May Be Coming to TikTok

Will 2020 be the year that deepfakes go mainstream?

We covered how Snapchat has acquired computer vision startup AI Factory in developing the recent Cameo feature, and now joining in the fray is TikTok, which is working on a deepfake-style addition within its app. It enables users to create videos by utilizing a  multi-angle biometric scan of their own face, and overlay onto pre-recorded footage.

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While such developments are mainly concentrated on creating entertainment content in social platforms, let's not forget how the technology can be used for nefarious purposes, such as creating misinformation videos or depicting a business leader or celebrity in a compromising position. 

For better or worse, deepfake is here to stay, and impacting how we consume content and news in years to come. Here’s wishing everyone a 20/20 vision to spot those deepfakes! 

An Improved Experience With Instant Articles On Facebook

Facebook recently released an update to Facebook’s Instant Articles, a feature meant for content publishers to effectively distribute their articles through Facebook’s tools with improved speed, presentation and load times.

Included in the update is a new recirculation and navigation surface with dedicated engagement buttons for saving, discussing, sharing Instant Articles and browsing other articles from the same publisher. 

Facebook Stories are also supported with Instant Article links, allowing users to read an article directly from a Story. Smarter CTA (call-to-action) units and ad yield model were introduced as well. 

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With these improvements, Facebook has revealed a significant increase in RPMs (Revenue per Thousand Article Views) for publishers, as well as more time spent by users reading articles from the same publisher. Evidently a good move from Facebook, these new additions are likely to renew publisher interest in using its native content tool.