Author: Sarah Perez

A new ‘Hide Tweet’ button has been spotted in Twitter’s code

Twitter confirmed it has in development a new “Hide Tweet” option, but has yet to provide more detail about its plans for the feature. The new option, spotted in Twitter’s code, is available from a list of moderation choices that appear when you click the “Share” button on a tweet – a button whose icon has also been given a refresh, it seems. Like it sounds, “Hide Tweet” appears to function as an alternative to muting or blocking a user, while still offering some control over a conversation.

Related to this, an option to “View Hidden Tweets” was also found to be in the works. This appears to allow a user to unhide those tweets that were previously hidden.

The “Hide Tweet” feature was first discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, who tweeted about her findings on Thursday.

Wong says she found the feature within the code of the Twitter Android application. That means it’s not necessarily something Twitter will release publicly, but has at least thought about seriously enough to develop.

Reached for comment earlier today, Twitter told us some employees would soon tweet out more context about the feature. As of the time of writing, those explanations had not gone live.

Immediately, there were concerns an option like this would allow users to silence their critics – not just for themselves, as is possible today with muting and blocking – but for anyone reading through a stream of Twitter Replies. Imagine, for example, if a controversial politician began to hide tweets they didn’t like or those that contradicted an outrageous claim with a fact check, people said.

On the flip side, putting the original poster back in control of which Replies are visible may allow people to feel more comfortable with sharing on Twitter, which could impact user growth – a number Twitter struggles with today.

But as of now, it’s not clear that the “Hide Tweet” button is something that would hide the tweet from everyone’s view, or just the from the person who clicked the button.

It’s also unclear what stage of development the feature is in, or if it will be part of a larger change to moderation controls.

If Twitter chooses to comment, we’ll update with those answers.

The feature’s discovery comes at a time when Twitter has been under increased pressure to improve the conversational health on its platform.

In a recent interview, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that it puts most of the burden on the victims of abuse, which has been “a huge fail.” He said Twitter was looking into new way to proactively enforce and promote health, so blocking and reporting were last resorts.

A “Hide Tweet” button doesn’t seem to fit into that plan, as it requires users’ direct involvement with the moderation process.

It’s worth also noting that Twitter already has a “hidden tweets” feature of sorts.

In 2018, the company introduced a new filtering strategy to hide disruptive tweets, which takes into consideration various behavioral signals – like whether the account had verified its email, is frequently blocked, or tweets often at accounts that don’t follow it back, for example. If Twitter determined the tweet should be downranked, it moved it to its own secluded part of the Reply thread, under a “Show more replies” button.

Twitter tests a number of things that never see the light of day in a public product. More recently, the company said it was weighing the idea of a “clarifying function” for explaining old tweets. It’s also launching a prototype app that will experiment with new ideas around conversation threads.

 

TikTok is launching a series of online safety videos in its app

On the heels of news that TikTok has reached 1 billion downloads, the company today is launching new initiative designed to help inform users about online safety, TikTok’s various privacy settings and other controls they can use within its app, and more. Instead of dumping this information in an in-app FAQ or help documentation, the company will release a series of video tutorials that are meant to be engaging and fun, in order to better resemble the other content on TikTok itself.

The safety series, called “You’re in Control,” will star TikTok users and will make use of popular memes, in-app editing tricks and other effects, just like other TikTok videos do.

The videos will focus on a range of privacy, safety and well-being settings and other safety-related policies. This includes TikTok’s Community Guidelines, how in-app reporting works, plus other settings for protecting your privacy, control comments, those to manage your screen time, and more.

They’re not exactly your traditional how-to videos, however.

Instead, the videos showcase what’s often a more serious issues – like being overrun with unwanted messages – in a humorous fashion. For example, in the video about configuring your message controls, angry commenters are depicted as shouting passengers on an airplane while the user is depicted by an overwhelmed flight attendant.

“Too many DMs?,” the video asks. The flight attendant snaps his fingers, which causes most of the passengers to disappear. The scene returns to peace and quiet. It’s a simple enough analogy for TikTok’s younger user base to understand.

This is then followed by a screen recording that shows you how to turn off messaging within the TikTok app’s settings.

Other videos have a similar style.

A barking, growling dog is used to demonstrate Restricted Mode, for instance. A noisy crowd overlooking someone’s shoulder is the intro on the video about using comment controls.

Another video encourages the use of screen time controls, asking “can’t put your phone down?” and shows someone so wrapped up in their phone they aren’t watching where they’re walking.

But the video about the Community Guidelines is maybe the most cringe-y, as it feels a bit like your parents reminding you to “play nice.” However, it still manages to set a tone for what TikTok wants to promote – a community for “positive vibes” where everyone feels “safe and comfortable.”

At launch, there are seven of these short-form videos in the safety series, which will launch in the TikTok app in the U.S. and U.K on Wednesday. In time, the company plans to add other tutorials and expand the series across its global markets, it says.

Of course, TikTok needs more than a series of videos to make its app a safe and welcoming community, the way it desires. It also needs a combination of policies, settings, controls, technology, moderation, and more, the company says.

That said, a focus on user education is an important aspect to this larger goal – and it stands in stark contrast to how Facebook intentionally made its privacy settings so complex and difficult to find and use for so many of its earlier years, that people gave up trying.

How well TikTok can execute on user privacy and safety as the app grows still remains to be seen. For now, it tends to be talked about as either a wholesome and fun video experience, or an online cesspool filled with hateful content and child predators. It’s an app on the internet, so both versions of this story are likely true.

There is no large user-generated content site – even those run by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – that has figured how to properly police the hatefulness and evil contained in humanity. But TikTok, at least, takes care not to showcase that content in its main feed – you have to seek it out directly (or train its algorithm by never clicking on anything wholesome.)

But, so far, TikTok has been better reviewed by child safety advocates than you might expect. For instance, Common Sense Media – a nonprofit that provides unbiased and trusted advice about all sorts of media, including apps – said that the app, used with parental supervision, can be “a kid-friendly experience.”

The launch of the video series comes at a time when TikTok’s growth is surging. The app recently surpassed a billion installs across the iOS App Store and Google Play, including Lite versions and regional variations, but excluding Android installs in China, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Roughly 25 percent of those installs are from India, the report said. And around 663 million of TikTok’s total installs occurred in 2018, which made the app the No. 4 most downloaded non-game for the year.

However, installs alone don’t tell the story of how many people actually use the app or how often. And a chunk of these could be the same user installing the app on multiple devices, or even bots used to push the app up the charts. In addition, parents often download the app their tween or teen is using for monitoring purposes, but don’t engage with the app or its content on a regular basis.

 

 

 

Tinder launches a Spring Break mode

Tinder, the dating app company which, as of late, has been more fully embracing its status as the preferred hook-up app of choice for the younger generation, is today launching a new feature designed for its college-aged Tinder U users: Spring Break mode. The feature will allow students to swipe through potential matches before heading out to their Spring Break destination.

Here’s how it works.

From March 4 through March 31, 2019, Spring Break mode will go live in Tinder offering 20 popular destinations, including Cabo, Lake Havasu, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego and others. To opt in, Tinder U users will need to look for the Spring Break card while swiping.

When they see it, they can then select their Spring Break destination to see who’s going. This destination will then be shown to potential matches through a badge on their profiles.

The idea, says Tinder, was inspired by trends the company was already seeing in product usage during this March time frame, when there would be huge upticks in some cities and locations. For example, South Padre Island experienced a 100x increase in activity in March 2018 compared to the previous month; Panama City saw a 10x increase; Destin Beach a 6x increase; and both Cabo San Lucas and Lake Havasu saw a 2x increase.

In addition to using its own data from past spring breaks, Tinder also consulted with its Tinder U users about which destinations to include.

“Spring Break, like Tinder, is a staple for many college students across the country,” said Jenny Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinder, in a statement. “We’ve historically seen huge upticks in Tinder usage during Spring Break in these destinations, and we are excited to give users the unique experience to connect before they pack their bags,” she said.

The new feature is one of several ways that Tinder is focusing on its more casual use case, as of late. Last November, the company told investors during its Q3 earnings that it would begin marketing the app as a way to enjoy the “single lifestyle” – that is, catering to a younger demographic’s demand for wanting to date around while in their 20’s – before they’re ready to settle down.

Tinder had also begun an online publication, Swipe Life, and is running various advertising campaigns, related to this initiative.

For years, Tinder had tried to downplay the app’s more casual nature, but it’s now able to change course due to its acquisition of dating app Hinge. Similarly aimed at younger users and millennials, Hinge is focused on creating relationships, not hook-ups. That frees up Tinder to refocus on what it does best: quick matches.

Tinder parent Match Group had hinted at its plans for Tinder U, during its earnings call earlier this month.

“In 2019, we are planning to solidify our leadership position among college students by expanding Tinder U to cover even more schools throughout the U.S. while also launching Tinder U in select international markets,” said Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg, speaking to investors. “We’re also expanding marketing through our on campus brand ambassadors and social media influencers. Expect to see more events and marketing tied to the school social calendar such as Rivalry Week and Spring Break,” she noted.

However, by shifting focus more towards a younger, less established customer base, Tinder could be challenged on the revenue side as college students are less likely to have disposable incomes for things like a paid Tinder Gold subscription. Instead, Tinder will need to generate revenue from these users through in-app purchases – like Boost and Super Like (the latter which is often used by mistake, turning it into a running joke on the dating app.)

Tinder said it was considering a wider range of a la carte features in the future, and plans to focus on this aspect of its service, as well, in 2019.

Twitter’s latest test changes ‘Retweet with Comment’ so it looks more like a Reply

Twitter’s new prototype testing program isn’t the only way it’s working to fix conversations on its site. The company confirmed it’s currently running another public-facing test focused on making Twitter “more conversational” — but this time with Retweets instead of Replies. The test involves using a thin line to connect a quote-style retweet to the person commenting on the tweet, instead of placing the quoted tweet in a box as before.

Here are some visual aids.

Today, when you comment on a tweet you’re reposting, the original tweet is boxed in like this:

The new test sees Twitter eliminating the box entirely, and connecting the comment to the tweet using the same sort of line that is used today with Replies.

For example, here is a before and after of the change. (Click through to the tweet to view the images larger). You can see the original look on the left, and the update using the line on the right:

We asked Twitter if this was a permanent change or just a test, and a spokesperson confirmed it was the latter.

The test was available on Android on Tuesday of this week, but began rolling out to iOS users yesterday.

Despite the launch of the new testing program, the company said it would continue to A/B test various conversational features and other changes within its public app.

“The fact that we’re doing this [Twitter prototype testing program] doesn’t mean that we don’t do regular testing – like we do with all our development processes in our regular app all the time,” Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, noted in an interview at CES in January.

The prototype program, meanwhile, serves as more of an experimental testing grounds where Twitter users are able to directly influence the development process with their feedback and opinions.

Twitter had learned over the years that some of the best ideas come from the community itself. Many of its products — including @ Replies, the hashtag (#), tweetstorms (now “threads”) and Retweets (originally “RT”) — were developed in response to how people were already using Twitter. Now, Twitter hopes to tap into the hive mind to build whatever else is coming next.

But not all of Twitter’s changes are community-driven. (After all, I’m not sure anyone was really all that concerned about how Retweets were displayed.)

That means you’ll still see Twitter testing smaller changes like this one in the public app.

Whether or not the lines will eventually come to replace the box for Retweets still remains to be seen, however. While it does make the comment seem more like someone is continuing a conversation, the update arguably makes it easier to confuse a Retweet with a Reply, too.

“We’re working on updates to Retweet with Comment as part of our efforts to make Twitter more conversational,” a spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to TechCrunch. They also hinted we’d see more tests of this nature in the future, as well.

Twitter opens applications for its beta program, first tests to focus on fixing conversations

Twitter today is opening up applications for its new testing program, first announced at CES in January. The program potentially can cover any and every aspect of the Twitter experience, but the first set of tests will focus on how interactions between people, and specifically replies, appear on Twitter.

They will include a new design for replies to make it easier to follow a conversation; rounded shapes on reply tweets; indents to follow responses; hiding engagement and sharing behind a tap to bring out the content of replies; and introducing colors to add more context.

We got an early look at the these features when we saw the beta app in January; read on for more on all the features.

Improving the look and feel of how Twitter works is a tall order, to say the least. Many have pointed out, and the company now admits, that back-and-forth tweets are too hard to follow. Given that Twitter’s core premise is that of a platform for conversations, that not only limits the product’s usefulness, but it potentially puts off newcomers as well.

These issues recently came to a head when Twitter’s own CEO Jack Dorsey attempted to participate in a tweet-based interview with journalist Kara Swisher. As their conversation continued, Twitter’s failings on this front were on clear display. Despite the use of a public hashtag, people were confused as to how to track the reporter’s questions and @jack’s answers.

“This thread was hard,” Dorsey tweeted at the end of the interview. “Need to make this feel a lot more cohesive and easier to follow.”

While interviews with major tech execs aren’t an everyday occurrence on Twitter (yet?), longer conversations with threaded replies are, and they’ve perhaps become even more prevalent after Twitter doubled its character count from 140 to 280 in late 2017. That change allowed people to share their expanded thoughts with more nuance, which in turn prompted more thoughtful replies.

Around the same time, Twitter turned “tweetstorms” into an official product, allowing people to tweet out a series of connected thoughts, each which invite their own related series of responses.

With all these changes, tracking the growing amount of back-and-forth has become overly complex, especially when a conversation has a lot of participants.

That’s the problem the new testing program aims better understand and eventually solve.

“It’s kind of a new take on our thinking about product development,” Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, said in an interview in January. “One of the reasons why this is so critical for this particular feature is because we know we’re making changes that are pretty significant.”

Within a separate, standalone app, the company will roll out experiments that allow the Twitter community to more directly participate in the early development process. At launch, that means fixing conversations. But over time, Twitter aims to use this platform to try out new ideas before they make their way to the public product.

Fixing conversations could be one of the biggest changes to Twitter to date, she noted, which is why it’s critical for the company to get it right.

“We need you to be part of this process, so that we know we’re building the right experience,” Haider said.

Above: the development build at CES; the new product will look different, we’re told

Like the build TechCrunch previewed in January, the soon-to-launch Twitter prototype will feature an entirely new design for Replies where the conversations themselves have a rounded, more chat-like shape and are indented so they’re easier to follow. It won’t be the first time it has tried this out, but softer edges, it seems, are thought to look more human.

The company isn’t yet sharing images, but says you can imagine the Replies look more like the chats you see in Direct Messages – that is, they’re more rounded, but not exactly speech bubbles.

Engagements, sharing options, and other tweet details, meanwhile, will also get hidden from view to further simplify things. You will have to tap on the tweets in order to view them, Twitter says. Again, the aim here will be to put the focus more on what’s being said, not to act on it. This is actually an interesting shift, since so much in social media has been focused around engagement. Now, Twitter’s going to see if taking away some of those engagement nudges will, essentially, keep people around longer.

Above: Engagements are hidden on the development build seen at CES

Making conversations color-coded to highlight the tweets from the original poster as well as those tweets from people you follow is a straight play at giving more visual cues to the reader of a conversation.

“Reader” might be the operative word here. One of Twitter’s big issues with conversations is that they can be too noisy when too many people get involved. One solution to that might also be to try to think of how that might get limited, either so that only certain replies are seen (which is something that Twitter is already doing to some extent, by putting replies from people you follow at the top), or perhaps so that not all people can reply — an idea that the CEO himself has teased as a possibility. Both position Twitter as a reading-first, not engagement-first, experience, which is why making those replies easier to read is so important.

In the development build we saw last month, those colors were overly saturated for testing purposes. In the prototype, they’ve been dialed down. Now, people you follow will be in blue and the responses from the original poster are gray.

The reply highlighting is now just a shadow line along the reply, as opposed to the entire reply being colored, Twitter tells us.

The company says it will only accept a couple thousand of testers into the beta program. But unlike prior beta programs, testers aren’t under NDA. Instead, they’re encouraged to tweet about the test and discuss the changes with the broader Twitter community so more people can weigh in with their thoughts.

In addition, testers will be able to submit feedback through a closed form or they can just tweet to Twitter’s teams.

The tweet-and-reply system has been a thorn in Twitter’s side for years. Because Twitter was originally designed a short-form, SMS-like platform, it never anticipated how it would evolve into the discussion platform it has become today.

The company has tried in vain to figure out how to simplify things for users for years. For example, it added connecting lines between tweets and responses, made @usernames in replies a part of the tweet’s metadata, and even changed the Reply icon itself. Recently, it added an “original tweeter” badge to conversation threads, too.

The company says it will mostly invite English and Japanese speakers to the testing program. Participants must follow the Twitter Rules to be invited. However, they don’t necessarily need to be longtime Twitter users. In fact, the company tells TechCrunch it aims to have a range of people involved, from those who don’t use Twitter often to those who use it consistently.

Those interested in applying to the beta can do so from the tweet posted by the @TwitterSupport account or can use this link. If accepted, users will receive an email informing them of the next steps.

TikTok spotted testing native video ads

TikTok is testing a new ad product: a sponsored video ad that directs users to the advertiser’s website. The test was spotted in the beta version of the U.S. TikTok app, where a video labeled “Sponsored” from the bike retailer Specialized is showing up in the main feed, along with a blue “Lean More” button that directs users to tap to get more information.

Presumably, this button could be customized to send users to the advertiser’s website or any other web address, but for the time being it only opened the Specialized Bikes (@specializedbikes) profile page within the TikTok app.

However, the profile page itself also sported a few new features, including what appeared to be a tweaked version of the verified account badge.

Below the @specializedbikes username was “Specialized Bikes Page” and a blue checkmark (see below). On other social networks, checkmarks like this usually indicate a user whose account has gone through a verification process of some kind.

Typical TikTok user profiles don’t look like this — they generally only include the username. In some cases, we’ve seen them sport other labels like “popular creator” or “Official Account” — but these have been tagged with a yellowish-orange checkmark, not a blue one.

In addition, a pop-up banner overlay appeared at the bottom of the profile page, which directed users to “Go to Website” followed by another blue “Learn More” button.

Oddly, this pop-up banner didn’t show up all the time, and the “Learn More” button didn’t work — it only re-opened the retailer’s profile page.

As for the video itself, it features a Valentine’s Day heart that you can send to a crush, and, of course, some bikes.

The music backing the clip is Breakbot’s “By Your Side,” but is labeled “Promoted Music.” Weirdly, when you tap on the “Promoted Music” you’re not taken to the soundbite on TikTok like usual, but instead get an error message saying “Ad videos currently do not support this feature.”

The glitches indicate this video ad unit is still very much in the process of being tested, and not a publicly available ad product at this time.

TikTok parent ByteDance only just began to experiment with advertising in the U.S. and U.K. in January.

So far, public tests have only included an app launch pre-roll ad. But according to a leaked pitch deck published by Digiday, there are four TikTok ad products in the works: a brand takeover, an in-feed native video ad, a hashtag challenge and a Snapchat-style 2D lens filter for photos; 3D and AR lens were listed as “coming soon.”

TikTok previously worked with GUESS on a hashtag challenge last year, and has more recently been running app launch pre-roll ads for companies like GrubHub, Disney’s Kingdom Hearts and others. However, a native video ad hadn’t yet been spotted in the wild until now.

According to estimates from Sensor Tower, TikTok has grown to nearly 800 million lifetime installs, not counting Android in China. Factoring that in, it’s fair to say the app has topped 1 billion downloads. As of last July, TikTok claimed to have more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide, excluding the 100 million users it gained from acquiring Musical.ly.

That’s a massive user base, and attractive to advertisers. Plus, native video ads like the one seen in testing would allow brands to participate in the community, instead of interrupting the experience the way video pre-rolls do.

TikTok has been reached for comment, but was not able to provide one at this time. We’ll update if that changes. Specialized declined to comment.

Bumble launches Spotlight, its own version of Tinder’s Boost

Bumble, currently Tinder’s biggest rival in the dating app market, today launched its own version of Tinder’s “Boost” feature. On Bumble, it’s being called “Spotlight” and allows users to pay to bump their profile up to the front of the queue, in order to be seen by more people than they would otherwise.

Very much like Tinder Boost, the idea here is that getting to the front of the line will allow you to pick up matches more quickly, as you don’t have to wait until users swipe through other profiles before they see yours. Plus, depending on how far in the back of the line you are typically, Spotlight could help you be seen by those who would have never made it to your profile page at all.

Spotlight – or Boost, for that matter – isn’t something every dating app user needs.

Dating apps today organize their queues with profiles based on a number of factors – including things like profile popularity, whether you swipe right on everyone or are more selective, whether your photos are higher quality or blurry, and many other signals. If you tend to get matches easily on the apps, you may not need Spotlight. But if you suspect your profile is further down the line, or just want to make sure your profile is getting seen, the feature could help.

To use Spotlight, Bumble users must pay 2 Coins (bought through a separate in-app purchase). 1 coin is $0.99 in the U.S., or £1.99 in the U.K. Spotlight will then show your profile to more users for the next 30 minutes. Your profile is not flagged or labeled in any way, so no one knows you used Spotlight to be promoted. However, the user who purchased Spotlight will know it’s active as they’ll see stars appear across the top part of the Bumble app while it’s enabled.

Spotlight represents another way that Bumble continues to challenges Tinder head-on by rolling out similar features, after already co-opting the swipe-to-like and the super-like, for example.

The move also comes just following another successful quarter by Match Group, led by the earnings from its flagship app Tinder.

Combined with its other dating app properties, Match pulled in $457 million in revenue, up 21 percent year-over-year, and topping analyst estimates. Tinder reported its paying subscriber base grew to 4.3 million as of year-end, out of a total user base that tops 50 million. (The company doesn’t disclose the number of users it has.)

Bumble, meanwhile, today says it has now reached 50 million worldwide users, with 84,000 new users being added daily.

Spotlight is one of several in-app purchases offered by Bumble, alongside the recently launched option to access more profile filters, for example, as well as free features, like Snooze, which let you take a digital detox from online dating.

Instagram thinks you want IGTV previews in your home feed

If you can’t beat or join them… force feed ’em? That appears to be Instagram’s latest strategy for IGTV, which is now being shoved right into Instagram’s main feed, the company announced today. Instagram says that it will now add one-minute IGTV previews to the feed, making it “even easier” to discover and watch content from IGTV.

Uh.

IGTV, you may recall, was launched last year as a way for Instagram to woo creators. With IGTV, creators are able to share long-form videos within the Instagram platform instead of just short-form content to the Feed or Stories.

The videos, before today, could be viewed in Instagram itself by tapping the IGTV icon at the top-right of the screen, or within the separate IGTV standalone app.Instagram’s hope was that IGTV would give the company a means of better competing with larger video sites, like Google’s YouTube or Amazon’s Twitch.

Its users, however, haven’t found IGTV as compelling.

As of last fall, few creators were working on content exclusively for IGTV, and rumor was the viewing audience for IGTV content remained quite small, compared with rivals like Snapchat or Facebook. Many creators just weren’t finding it worth investing additional resources into IGTV, so were repurposing content designed for other platforms, like YouTube or Snapchat.

That means the bigger creators weren’t developing premium content or exclusives for IGTV, but were instead experimenting by replaying the content their fans could find elsewhere. Many are still not even sure what the IGTV audience wants to watch.

IGTV’s standalone app doesn’t seem to have gained much of a following either.

The app today is ranked a lowly No. 228 on the U.S. App Store’s “Photo and Video” top chart. Despite being run by Instagram — an app that topped a billion monthly users last summer, and is currently the No. 1 free app on iOS — fewer are downloading IGTV.

After seeing 1.5 million downloads in its first month last year — largely out of curiosity — the IGTV app today has only grown to 3.5 million total installs worldwide, according to Sensor Tower data. While those may be good numbers for a brand-new startup, for a spin-off from one of the world’s biggest apps, they’re relatively small.Instagram’s new video initiative also represents another shot across the bow of Instagram purists.

As BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos opined last year, “I’m Sorry To Report Instagram Is Bad Now.” Her point of concern was the impact that Stories had on the Instagram Feed — people were sharing to Stories instead of the Feed, which made the Feed pretty boring. At yet, the Stories content wasn’t good either, having become a firehose of the throwaway posts that didn’t deserve being shared directly on users’ profiles.

On top of all this, it seems the Instagram Feed is now going to be cluttered with IGTV previews. That’s. Just. Great.

Instagram says you’ll see the one-minute previews in the Feed, and can tap on them to turn on the audio. Tap the IGTV icon on the preview and you’ll be able to watch the full version in IGTV. When the video is finished, you’re returned to the Feed. Or, if you want to see more from IGTV, you can swipe up while the video plays to start browsing.

IGTV previews is only one way Instagram has been developing the product to attract more views in recent months. It has also integrated IGTV in Explore, allowed the sharing of IGTV videos to Stories, added the ability to save IGTV Videos and launched IGTV Web Embeds.

Match Group fully acquires relationship-focused app Hinge

Last year, Match Group acquired a 51 percent stake in the relationship-focused dating app Hinge, in order to diversify its portfolio of dating apps led by Tinder. The company has now confirmed that it fully bought out Hinge in the past quarter, and today owns 100 percent of the app that has been gaining momentum both inside and outside of the U.S. following last year’s deal.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Match believes Hinge can offer an alternative to those who aren’t interested in using casual apps, like Tinder. As the company noted on its earnings call with investors this morning, half of all singles in the U.S. and Europe have never tried dating products. And of the 600 million internet-connected singles in the world, 400 million have never used dating apps.

That leaves room for an app like Hinge to grow, as it can attract a different type of user than Tinder and other Match-owned apps — like OkCupid or Plenty of Fish, for example — are able to reach.

As Match explained in November, it plans to double-down on marketing that focuses on Tinder’s more casual nature and use by young singles, while positioning Hinge as the alternative for those looking for serious relationships. The company said it would also increase its investment in Hinge going forward, in order to grow its user base.

Those moves appear to be working. According to Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg, Hinge downloads grew four times on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter of 2018, and grew by 10 times in the U.K. The app is particularly popular in New York and London, which are now its top two markets, the exec noted.

Match may also see Hinge as a means of better competing with dating app rival Bumble, which it has been unable to acquire and continues to battle in court over various disputes.

Bumble’s brand is focused on female empowerment with its “women go first” product feature, and takes a more heavy-handed approach to banning, ranging from its prohibition on photos with weapons to its stance on kicking out users who are disrespectful to others.

Match, in its earnings announcement, made a point of comparing Hinge to other dating apps, including Bumble.

“Hinge downloads are now two-and-a-half times more than the next largest app, and 40 percent of Bumble downloads,” said Ginsberg, referring to a chart (below) which positions Hinge next to competitors like Happn, The League, Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble.

“We expect Hinge to continue to strengthen its position in this relationship-minded market,” she added. “We believe that Hinge can be a meaningful revenue contributor to match group beyond 2019, and we have confidence that it can carve out a solid position in the dating app landscape amongst relationship-minded millennials, and serve as a complementary role in our portfolio next to Tinder,” Ginsberg said. 

Match has big plans for Hinge in 2019, saying that it will expand Hinge to international markets, double the size of its team and build new product features focused on helping people get off the app and going on dates.

Hinge today claims to be the fastest-growing dating app in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, and is setting up a date every four seconds. Three out of four first dates on Hinge also lead to second dates, it says.

Hinge is now one of several dating apps owned by Match Group, which is best known for Tinder and its namesake, Match.com. But the company has been diversifying as of late, not only with Hinge, but also its newest addition, Ship, which was developed in partnership with media brand Betches. But Ship could be a miss if it doesn’t even out its demographics — currently the subscriber base is 80 percent female, Match says.

Tinder, meanwhile, still drives Match Group’s revenue, which rose to $457 million from $379 million a year ago, and exceeded analysts’ expectations for $448 million, per MarketWatch. In the quarter, Tinder added 233,000 net new subscribers, bringing its total subscriber count to 4.3 million. Combined with Match’s other apps, overall subscribers totaled 8.2 million.

This Marie Kondo-inspired Twitter tool will help you declutter your timeline so it again ‘sparks joy’

Does your Twitter timeline spark joy? If you’re like most people, probably not. Over the years, you probably politely followed back a few too many Twitter accounts, and now have a timeline filled with all sorts of random tweets from people you can’t even remember following in the first place. A new Twitter tool, Tokimeki Unfollow, may help.

Designed by Julius Tarng, previously of Facebook and Branch, “tokimeki” roughly translates to “spark joy.” It’s a nod to Tarng’s source of inspiration for the new tool — Marie Kondo’s hugely popular Netflix show “Tidying Up.” The series, based on the decluttering expert’s own KonMari method of organization, has prompted many to start purging their homes of unwanted and unloved clothing, books, papers, toys and more in the weeks following the series’ debut.

So why not take the idea to Twitter?

After all, if anything is a source of clutter these days, it’s the build-up of timeline junk thanks to poor following choices in years past.

Tokimeki Unfollow is easy to use, though its newfound popularity may have it running a little slow at times, we found.

The tool works by using cookies and your browser’s local storage to save its progress. If you opt in, it can save your “keep” and “unfollow” progress secured on the Glitch servers.

The tool also uses your Twitter authentication to pull in your follows, their tweets and to unfollow accounts and help you manage your lists.

Above: I may never be able to KonMari my way out of this

The tool will ask you which order you want to use to begin the decluttering, with “oldest first” as the recommended default. It suggests that you hide the account’s bio — in case you’re too swayed by who someone is, rather than what they tweet. But you can toggle this setting on or off as you prefer.

Once up-and-running, the tool asks you if the tweets still spark joy or feel important?

You then have to choose to keep following the account or unfollow it.

Above: Apparently, there was a time I followed Dell on Twitter

If you unfollow, the tool even reminds you to thank the account for all the tweets you enjoyed before.

You can also organize accounts into lists along the way, which is handy.

List-making is a good middle ground for those times when there are accounts you want to track — like perhaps those with memes or jokes, or those dedicated to favorites celebs, musicians, sports figures and teams, etc. — but don’t want in your main timeline.

Unfortunately, the tool missed pulling in a couple of my lists (perhaps I have too many…), but you can open the Twitter user’s account in a separate tab and add them to a list from there, if need be.

The process of decluttering Twitter this way will take time, but it will also give you the chance to truly consider whose content is worth following.

For those who have been on Twitter from day one, it may be impossible to ever get through the decluttering process this way — but it’s at least a productive time filler.

Now if only someone would build Tokimeki tools for Facebook, Instagram and my browser’s bookmarks…

We asked Tarng to give us more info about the idea behind building Tokimeki Unfollow and how it helps to clean up messy Twitter accounts.

TC: Were you a fan of Marie Kondo and the KonMari method before the Netflix series?

JT: I wouldn’t say “fan” but I had adopted her clothes folding techniques since her book made the rounds a few years ago. The new Netflix show was definitely a reminder, and it was interesting and (at times disappointing) to see American mixed reactions to it!

TC: Have you practiced the method yourself at home?

JT: I actually had always been pretty good about getting rid of stuff since I was young, so KonMari was actually more of a confirmation to me that I wasn’t the only one that thought that way. But I loved the idea of thanking the objects before throwing or donating them away — it’s a very thoughtful way to think about your possessions.

TC: Why did you decide to use this organizational method on your Twitter account?

JT: Well, I had just come back to the states after a year abroad and a year off of Twitter. I really missed the human connection, but my feed had become very anxiety-inducing. I saw some joke tweets about KonMari for Twitter, and that was the confirmation for me that I should spend some time building it! Firstly, it was for myself, so some of my personal opinions are in there — like hiding people’s bios so I wouldn’t be swayed by who they were, [and] focusing on the content itself.

TC: How long did it take to build?

JT: I started about three weeks ago. Finished this past weekend. The code is open source on Glitch and you can rewind the history to see the development unfold!

TC: Did anyone help?

JT: I had some guidance from my fiancée and some friends, but I did most of it myself.

TC: What should people know about using this tool?

JT: The tool is more about the process than the end result. Even if people use it for 15 minutes and stop, I hope those 15 minutes help them construct new rules for themselves for who and what type of account to follow in the future. I hope they reflect on how they’ve changed as a person through their follows over the years! I recommend using the “Oldest first” option to really get a look at your past.

TC: The tool has received a lot of attention in the past couple of days (see, for example, Wired, Fortune and Motherboard’s reports, among others). Do you plan to keep working on it or adding more features, as a result?

JT: It is open source so I’m hoping others remix it on Glitch and customize their experience. It is a personal tool that happened to become popular, so I won’t add features I wouldn’t use myself. I still have 600/1,000 to go myself, so however long it takes to go through the rest I’ll tweak it!