Love it or hate it, you can’t deny: TikTok is addicting. What makes it so addicting isn’t necessarily the quality of the videos (although there are plenty of great ones). Rather, it’s the impressive algorithm that quickly learns what you like and delivers you relevant videos one after another. While many now get their news from TikTok and other related apps, there’s a new service on the market that hopes to capitalize on what makes TikTok popular, but, instead, for text-based articles: Artifact.
Artifact is the latest venture of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Think of it like TikTok for the news: According to The Verge, when you first open the app, you’re greeted with a feed of articles from known outlets like the New York Times, all the way to tiny blogs focused on specific subjects. If you see an article that piques your curiosity, you can tap it, which teaches the Artifact algorithm, “Hey, this guy’s interested in articles on this subject. Let’s serve him up more.” Presumably, after you’ve perused a number of articles, your Artifact feed should sport fewer topics you skip over, and more headlines you’ll click.
If you are taken off the waitlist and invited to join the service, this is the experience you can expect. However, there are other features currently in beta that could make their way down the pipeline in the future. One is a Twitter-like feature that shows you a feed of stories posted by people you follow on the app. Artifact is also testing messaging, so you can DM articles to friends to read and discuss.
I’m sure the goal for Systrom and Krieger is to create a news app that’s as addicting as TikTok. As The Verge points out, though, there’s a rocky precedent here, as personalized news apps have come and gone in the past. But algorithms are addicting, so it will be interesting to see how engaged its audience will be.
Artifact will be weighing how much time you read a particular article more than which articles attract the most clicks and discussion. Hopefully, that prevents the algorithm from pulling a Facebook, and picking up content that evokes raw emotional responses, rather than content that is more thoughtful.
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How to sign up for Artifact
If you’re interested in giving Artifact a spin, go to Artifact’s official website. Here, you can enter your phone number (which has to be U.S.-based) and click “Join the Waitlist.” Artifact will text you a confirmation message, and will follow up when your invite is ready. According to the founders, Artifact will be signing new users up rapidly, so expect an invite text sooner than later.