Instagram expands its test to hide like counts


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Instagram

Instagram is giving more users the option to publicly hide the like count on their posts. The company announced today that it’s expanding its hidden like count test, which it first announced in May, to six more countries: Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. The test started in Canada, where people who were included in the test had their likes hidden by default. They had to opt out to show the likes publicly, although they can always see that like count on their own content.

The feature hides users’ public like counts on videos and photos in the Feed, on the web, and within profiles. Instagram said at the time of the initial announcement that it wants followers to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how…

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FaceApp is back and so are privacy concerns


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FaceApp

FaceApp, a Russia-based app that applies filters to photos, is having another moment in the spotlight this week. The app first went viral in 2017, but this time it’s catching on because of a filter that makes users look older or younger. As with the last viral moment, however, users have been surprised to learn that the app’s creators are harvesting metadata from their photos.

Close research suggests FaceApp isn’t doing anything particularly unusual in either its code or its network traffic, so if you’re worried about FaceApp, there are probably a bunch of other apps on your phone doing the same thing. Still, the conversation does bring attention to standard tech practices that might be more invasive than users realize.

To use the app,…

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Instagram wants opening your DMs to feel like ‘walking into a party’


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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

It’s incredible that Kaitlyn Tiffany and I haven’t yet asked why people slide into other people’s direct messages, but that ends today. On this week’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button?, we want to hear love stories and stories of failed courtship attempts. We ask why people slide into DMs, and then we process how the direct message’s connotation has changed over time.

We chat with our friend Blake who has slid into multiple DMs, as well as Tasbeeh Herwees, who called DMs the “new little black book” in MEL. Then we talk to a man named Thomas who met his boyfriend on Twitter through the DMs. We love love!

Finally, we take all our questions and thoughts to Connor Hayes, the director of product for Instagram messaging, who explains…

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Apple will reportedly fund Apple-exclusive podcasts


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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple, with a revived focus on services and original content, is reportedly looking to invest in podcasts. Bloomberg reports today that the tech company is reaching out to media companies to discuss making certain shows exclusive to Apple Podcasts, the company’s podcast listening app. Apple declined to comment for this story.

This is a complete rethinking of Apple and its place in the podcast ecosystem. The company has always played a neutral role in podcasting, one in which anyone could upload their podcast’s RSS feed into Apple’s app and distribute it through the platform. The company curates lists and highlights noteworthy shows, but those picks were never Apple-funded. If what this report suggests is true, Apple would be in a place…

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Waze will now tell you exactly how much that toll road will cost


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Waze’s latest update will give drivers more information about how much money they should expect to spend on tolls. While Waze has always known where the toll roads are, and allowed drivers to avoid them, the app will now list every toll’s actual price. The update, for both iOS and Android, will work in the US and Canada.

Google, which owns Waze, isn’t tracking the costs itself; users have to report the prices within the app. But still, the idea is clearly to give drivers the option to avoid tolls while also helping them assess whether they have the cash on hand to pass through. This update follows an earlier one this summer in which Google placed the Google Assistant and its wake word, “Hey Google,” into the Waze Android app. All of…

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This video reimagines the iPhone as a retro Macintosh


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Imagine if Apple, instead of inventing something completely new for its original iPhone design, had maintained the look of its iconic Macintosh or the iMac G3. The phone would be more eye-catching than the all-glass gadget we have now, if designer FuturePunk’s imagined, digital 3D models are any indication. This week, he published a look at what he thinks Apple could have created if it modeled the iPhone off either of those PCs. He recreates their commercials, too, except starring the phones.

While, yes, it would be completely impractical to have a phone fully based on either of these computers, particularly the Macintosh with its clunky keys, a transparent iMac G3-style iPhone would be incredible, especially in the classic “Bondi blue.”…

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Podcasters need listening data, so Nielsen is going to call people’s homes to ask for it


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Nielsen, a company best known for tracking TV shows’ popularity, is getting into the podcast data collection business. The company will begin assembling information on podcast listeners’ consumption habits, like their genre preferences and how long they listen to shows, and it will then sell access to that data to podcasters and podcast ad networks. The information could help these companies sell ads, especially because they often have little insight into their listeners’ broader consumer habits.

Nielsen’s initial clients are some of the industry’s biggest names, including, iHeartPodcast Network, Cadence13, Midroll, Westwood One, and Cabana. Given that these companies sell ads for podcasts, they’ll likely use the database to build a more…

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Why does everyone get so worked up over Gmail’s Smart Reply feature?


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Kaitlyn Tiffany and I avoided talking about email as long as we could, but it’s the fourth season of our podcast, so it’s time. This week on Why’d You Push That Button?, we ask: why are people so worked up over Gmail’s Smart Reply feature? Smart replies are suggestions that Google makes through artificial intelligence when someone begins replying to an email. It’s similar to Smart Compose, which makes suggestions as you type. People have strong feelings about both of these features. (Please, do a search for hot takes. You’ll find many, including one that calls them “evil.”)

We interview Verge deputy editor Liz Lopatto about her Smart Reply feelings and how, perhaps, they aren’t so bad. Then we chat with writer Sarah Hagi about how she…

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Tinder Lite will arrive in Vietnam in the ‘coming weeks’


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Tinder has already publicized its plans to expand around the world, specifically in Asia, but today, it’s taking the next logical step in that journey and introducing a smaller version of its Android app — called Tinder Lite. The app is 25 times smaller than the main app, and while it maintains the core functionality, like swiping, it nixes more data-heavy ones, like the Feed. The idea is that Tinder Lite is faster, requires less battery life, and reduces data usage. For now, Tinder Lite users can’t upgrade to a Tinder Plus or Gold subscription within the app, but the company says it plans to do so over time. (A critical feature for making money off users, of course.)

The app will be available through Google Play in Vietnam in the…

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Spotify’s lighter Android app requiring only 10MB of storage is now available


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Spotify is launching the lighter version of its Android app today — dubbed Spotify Lite — that’s designed for people with smaller data plans and older devices. The 10MB app (the main Spotify app can require 100MB) ships with one major new feature: the ability to set a data limit and receive a notification when it’s reached, a necessity for people mindful of their data usage.

Using Spotify Lite, listeners can also control their song cache and clear it with a tap, if storage is an issue. The app is available in 36 markets around Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa through Google Play and will work on any device running Android version 4.3 and higher. It offers the same experience as the usual Spotify app, but is optimized for…

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Instagram will test a feature that allows users to shadow ban their bullies


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Instagram’s next big fix for online bullying is coming in the form of artificial intelligence-flagged comments and the ability for users to restrict accounts from publicly commenting on their posts.

The team is launching a test soon that’ll give users the power to essentially “shadow ban” a user from their account, meaning the account holder can “restrict” another user, which makes their comments visible only to themselves. It also hides when the account holder is active on Instagram or when they’re read a direct message.

The company also separately announced today that it’s rolling out a new feature that’ll leverage AI to flag potentially offensive comments and ask the commenter if they really want to follow through with posting….

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Kim Kardashian West wins $2.8 million from company that kept tagging her in Instagram posts


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Kim Kardashian West has won close to $2.8 million from the fast fashion company Missguided in a lawsuit claiming that the company used her “persona and trademarks” to sell replicas of her outfits, in part by continually tagging her on Instagram.

The issue of whether Missguided’s Instagram behavior violated trademark law was never actually litigated, though: the company just didn’t respond to her lawsuit, leading to a loss. In a default judgment last night, a California judge ordered Missguided to pay Kardashian West $2.7 million in damages and $59,600 in attorney fees. She also ordered the company to cease using Kardashian West’s trademarks in connection with the “sale, marketing, or distribution of its products.”

Kardashian West’s…

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Instagram’s new Stories sticker lets you ask your followers to join a new group chat


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Instagram’s newest Stories sticker lets people ask their followers to join a new group chat and then gives the poster the power to select who can join. The new feature, called the chat sticker, joins a bunch of other stickers Instagram has introduced to Stories, including polls, question boxes, mentions, locations, hashtags, and countdowns, among others. The chat sticker is relatively straightforward, and Instagram is positioning it as a solution for people who want to have a big group conversation about something or for making plans.

If someone places a chat sticker on their story, friends can tap the sticker to request access to the chat. The original poster can then choose who they want to include in the new chat, which will take…

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Bumble becomes one of the first major dating platforms to introduce in-app video and voice calls


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Bumble’s figured out a new way to bring video to its app: in-app voice or video calling. The feature applies to all of Bumble’s use cases, including Bumble Bizz for making professional connections; Bumble BFF for making friends; and Bumble for dating. The option to start a call will surface only once a match has been made. Women can call from that initial match while men have to wait until a woman has made the first move. The overall appeal is that people don’t have to swap phone numbers to chat, so if they unmatch, the other person loses their ability to make a call.

Only one other major dating app, Badoo, allows for video calling within the app, which isn’t coincidental. The same man — Andrey Andreev — operates both Badoo and Bumble….

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Instagram will start putting ads within the Explore page


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Ads are coming to more places on Instagram. Today, the social media platform announced that it’ll soon start placing ads within the Explore page, which is where users go to discover new content that lines up with their interests. The ads won’t appear on the Explore grid itself, but they’ll appear once a user taps on an Explore post and begins scrolling through that discovery feed. The ads will be photos and videos, and the first ad — for IGTV — will go live today. The team will begin working with select partners over the next few weeks with the goal of opening Explore ads up to everyone over the next few months.

“Explore is where people are really open to discovery, and that’s why we’re really excited about this,” says Susan Buckner…

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The worst Twitter is celebrity death Twitter


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This week, Kaitlyn Tiffany and I are coming in hot with a take: celebrity death Twitter is bad. On today’s episode of Why’d You Push That Button?, we ask if there’s a proper way to mourn a celebrity’s death, particularly on Twitter. Is it really an authentic message when someone tweets, “oh no,” along with the news of a celebrity’s death? Does it even matter if the message is authentic?

We chat with a bunch of guests for this one: Ashley Feinberg, a reporter at Slate; Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet and author; Sidney Gish, a musician; and, finally, Timothy Recuber, an assistant professor of sociology at Smith College who specializes in mass media, digital culture, and emotions. Without giving away too much, Recuber tells us that, actually,…

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Gigi Hadid wants to rewrite copyright law around her Instagram account


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Model Gigi Hadid believes she should be able to post paparazzi pictures on her Instagram account because her participation in their photos — from posing to choosing her outfit — invalidates a photographer’s ownership claims.

In a copyright infringement lawsuit filed in January this year, an agency, Xclusive-Lee, alleges that Hadid posted one of its images to her Instagram, which it claims violates the company’s copyright. In a motion to dismiss filed earlier this month, as well as a supporting memorandum, Hadid’s legal team asserts that her posting the image constituted fair use because she contributed to the photo in the form of a smile and her outfit.

The memorandum of support says Hadid didn’t infringe on any copyright “because Ms….

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Apple says incoming China tariffs would be disastrous for business


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Apple says the Trump administration’s tariffs could lower the company’s economic output and put it at a disadvantage compared to its international competitors, particularly its Chinese counterparts. In Apple’s letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the company argues that the proposed tariffs, which would impact nearly every Apple device including the iPhone, MacBook, AirPods, and Apple Watch, would hurt Apple’s US employees and its ability to contribute to the US economy.

Up until now, Apple has more or less skirted around the Trump administration’s tariffs, despite its heavy reliance on Chinese manufacturing. Earlier rounds of China tariffs had avoided Apple’s highest volume devices, like the iPhone and Apple Watch, but…

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Spotify now allows advertisers to specifically target podcast listeners


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Spotify announced today that advertisers can now target ads based on the podcasts that people listen to. This means that unlike before, where advertisers could mainly target Spotify’s free-tier listeners by the music they enjoy — by genre or playlist — they can now target based on the category of podcast they consume, which is likely going to be much more specific and fruitful for the advertisers. Today’s news is likely only the start of how Spotify plans to eventually leverage its growing podcast features to make its ads more valuable and generate more revenue.

In a statement to The Verge, a Spotify spokeswoman explained that the company wants to keep building out advertising around podcasts. She said, “We aspire to develop a more…

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