Instagram tries to change image with modified algorithms

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Instagram chief Adam Mosseri’s revelation to Congress that the app planned to offer a chronological stream of photos and videos again made as many headlines on Wednesday as his more serious attempt to defend his record and to make new promises on the protection of young people.

What the two stories have in common is that the Meta-owned company is being forced to reduce the power of its algorithms to shape our social media habits and drive sales.

On the eve of his first testimony on the Hill, Mosseri had sought to tone down criticism expected from senators by announcing more tools to protect teens and support their parents, including being “more stringent on what we recommend teens in search, crawl, hashtags and suggestions. accounts”.

At the hearing, he argued “to give people the option to have a chronological feed,” which has been missing for more than five years but is expected to return in early 2022. That would mean users could opt out of the algorithmic feed. current based on content they’ve viewed or commented on, and that offers suggestions about other people they should follow.

Algorithms can be a force for good in social media, argues Jemima Kelly in this opinion piece. She suggests that Twitter’s new CEO (profiled here by Richard Waters) should introduce a ‘challenger mode’, an option that would show you as many different points of view as possible on a topic, improving the level of speech and providing a fantastic resource. for those trying to understand the different arguments around a given topic.

The full and free expression of opinions was made even more difficult in Russia last week, with the country’s dominant social media company VKontakte coming under state control through energy supplier Gazprom, securing majority stake. As Polina Ivanova reports, Moscow has deployed a range of different tools to exert control over the Russian internet, from using law enforcement to combat online dissent, to attempting to slow down certain websites or outright ban certain VPNs and applications. In recent months, he has focused on targeting foreign internet giants with fines and lawsuits in an attempt to force them to remove certain content. He also lobbied the executives of national internet companies such as Yandex, where he had him answer to a foundation that could dismiss the leadership if it deemed it to be in the national interest.

In these current cases, the obvious difference between the US Senate and the Kremlin’s approaches to attacking the power of social media is that one seeks to protect the individual, the other, the state.

The Internet of (five) things

1. Italy fines Amazon 1.1 billion euros in antitrust case
The online shopping giant has said it will appeal against a € 1.1 billion fine imposed by Italy after antitrust investigators found it gave unfair preference to sellers who also ship their goods. goods via the group’s logistics department. Lex says the decision suggests that EU regulators will take the same point of view. John Thornhill has thoughts on the four major emerging themes to tame Big Tech.

2. SenseTime set for US censorship
The United States will put the Chinese facial recognition software AI firm on an investment blacklist on Friday, the same day it fixes the price of its Hong Kong IPO. Washington says the company allows human rights violations against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Daily Bulletin

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3. On the day of Nubank’s $ 40 billion IPO, Miro envisages a valuation of $ 17 billion
Nubank, the Brazilian fintech backed by Warren Buffett and Tencent, reached a valuation of over $ 40 billion when it went public in New York as trading begins Thursday. Miro’s online collaborative whiteboard app is in talks to raise funds valued at $ 17 billion, making it the latest startup to capitalize on pandemic demand for software tools that help teams remotely to work together.

4. Synthetic data in the service of Syrian human rights
Computer simulated images of RBK-250 cluster bombs resulted in an AI program that detected their use more than 200 times from a cache of more than 100,000 videos of the Syrian conflict. Madhumita Murgia reports on progress made using synthetic data.

5. Chinese Shein shines in fashion in the West
Shein has become one of the few Chinese mainstream brands to break into the US and European markets, with its fast-paced fashion model, rock-bottom prices, and growing dominance in the mobile apps and social media favored by Gen Z. The Big Read examines whether its model is sustainable.

Forwarded from Sifted – European start-up week

As grim news about the Omicron coronavirus variant grabbed the headlines this week, venture capitalists were busy making big bets on the global return of physical events and travel. Easol, an e-commerce platform for companies selling experiences, raised $ 25 million in a Series A round led by Tiger Global. This is the 29th European start-up that the American venture capital giant is supporting this year. This follows recent tours by hotel data startup OTA Insights, which pocketed $ 80 million, and Düsseldorf-based event ticketing company Vivenu, which raised $ 50 million. The Feast It event platform has won 5 million euros.

Elsewhere in European start-ups this week, digital bank Monzo closed a $ 500 million funding round with an increased valuation of $ 4.5 billion. It will be a sigh of relief for fintech, which suffered setbacks in 2020 – including a reduction in valuation, struggling to break into the United States, and heavy financial losses.

Technical tools – Pixray images

This AI experience creates some interesting illustrations and anyone can have a go by visiting Pixray’s website and entering their own text phrase when prompted. You might have to wait for the result in a queue, but the AI ​​will match your text with the images it finds and generate art that often surprises and sometimes is beautiful. Pixray’s Twitter feed has some of the best examples and Forbes interviewed the developers.

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