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06.29.17 | 9:54 am

Instagram introduces a troll-tricking layer that filters abusive comments with machine learning

The online wars are filled with trolls and spam. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have pledged to do their part to make them safe places to connect, meaning figuring out ways to reduce abusive comments and spam. 

Instagram today is introducing a new tool to help this fight. By using machine learning, the Facebook-owned app is hoping to automatically flag and remove toxic and abusive content. The automatic filter will not let the commenter know that their post was flagged—in fact, it will still be visible to them—but everyone else will just not see it.

Similarly, Instagram is also using machine learning to combat spam messages. You can read more about these new machine learning efforts here

05.26.17 | 5:43 am

Instagram Direct gains links and new orientations

Direct, the private messaging portion of Instagram's app, has gained two much-requested features, Instagram revealed in a blog post. First, users can now share links in Direct, and, second, video and photo uploads in direct now support both portrait and landscape orientations, so there's no need to crop your shared media anymore. Direct's new features are available in the iOS today, with Android support coming soon.

[Image: Instagram]

05.23.17 | 10:00 am

Instagram is making Stories more findable with locations and #hashtags

When Instagram introduced its Snapchat-esque Stories last year, its presentation suggested that it thought there were two reasons you might want to view a Story—either because it was created by someone you were following, or because it was created by someone who was popular on Instagram.

Now the company's apps are adding two new ways to find Stories you may care about, regardless of who created them. The Explore section will now show you Stories that use location stickers pertaining to your current whereabouts as well as let you search for ones that relate to any other location in the world. And if you use Explore to search for a hashtag, the results may include Stories that use that hashtag as a sticker. (People who want to use location and hashtag stickers without their Stories showing up in Explore will be able to opt out on a Story-by-Story basis.)

05.19.17 | 7:23 am

Instagram and Snapchat are really bad for young people’s health

That's according to a new study that found that virtually all major social media platforms have a negative impact on the well-being of 14-24-year-olds. Instagram was the worst, according to a new study by the Young Health Movement, followed by Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. All four platforms had "a negative effect because they can exacerbate children's and young people's body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems, and feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness," reports the Guardian.

[Photo: RossHelen/iStock]

05.16.17 | 9:44 am

Instagram’s new face filters let you turn into a pretty princess without Snapchat

Instagram has just unveiled a new feature that undoubtedly has Snapchat investors silently weeping into their green juice this morning. Can you guess? Of course you can! Instagram now has face filters that turns boring old selfies into adorable koala pics, easy breezy Coachella flower girls, a big-eyed bunnies, and even (sexy?) mathematicians. They also added a rewind feature to videos, a hashtag sticker, and an eraser tool that your ex-boyfriend's artsy new girlfriend will undoubtedly make good use of. Instagram's best feature, of course, continues to be the opportunity to do away with your entire skincare regime but still take great selfies.  

The updates are available on Instagram version 10.21 and can be accessed by opening the camera and tapping the new face icon in the bottom right corner. Go update your app. We'll just be here Snapchatting our new Instagram selfies.

05.12.17 | 10:35 am

Watch Elon Musk’s traffic-killing underground tunnel network go for a crazy test run

Tesla and SpaceX CEO (and now Boring Company founder) Elon Musk has debuted a test run of his traffic-killing underground tunnel system, supposedly capable of jettisoning cars 125 miles per hour to their destination. Musk says such a system would be able to get drivers from Westwood to LAX in five minutes. In a video clip on Instagram Musk shows a sled gliding down a tubed track. The network was most recently discussed at the Ted Conference at the end of April. Check out the fast-moving clip here. (Warning: It may induce seizures or motion sickness.)

[Screenshot via Instagram]

05.12.17 | 10:20 am

This barista’s latte art is way, way too good to drink

Kangbin Lee is an artist who works in a very unusual medium—lattes. The Korean barista turns coffee into works of art made of milk foam. These aren't simply ferns and hearts, or even the Wu-Tang Clan symbol, but miniature masterpieces re-created in dairy products and what looks like food coloring. He calls his creations Cremart, according to BuzzFeed, and posts them to Instagram for gawking. They would be incredible works of art in any medium, but are even more mind-blowing because they are made out of lattes. They will surely end up on the vision board of many a Starbucks barista. You can see Lee in action in the video below as well as some of his Instagram photos. Take a look and then see if you can re-create this with CoffeeMate and the office sludge.

Did you drink Bambi's mother?

어딜보니?😳😳😳 #bambi #Disney . . #씨스루 #cthrough #카페씨스루 #커피스타그램 #경리단길 #경리단길카페 #경리단길맛집 #녹사평 #녹사평카페 #이태원 #이태원카페 #이태원맛집 #라떼아트 #바리스타그램 #크리마트 #에스프레소 #먹스타그램 #latteartporn #dailyart #coffee #baristalife #latteart #baristadaily #cafelatte #coffeetime #creamart #artwork

A post shared by 이강빈 (@leekangbin91) on

This version of Van Gogh's Starry Night is so much better than the poster you had in your college dorm room:

Unicorn Frappuccinos have nothing on these creations:

[Photo: Kangbin Lee/@leekangbin91]

04.26.17 | 9:00 am

Instagram hits the 700-million member mark, is growing faster than ever

Instagram has announced that it now has 700 million unique monthly users. The fact that it's gotten there is not exactly a shocker, but what's noteworthy is that it's celebrating this milestone so soon after revealing last December that it had 600 million monthly members. The six-and-a-half-year-old service isn't just continuing to attract new recruits but is accelerating its pace

Some of that growth can be attributed to new features such as the wildly popular, Snapchat-esque Instagram Stories, which I covered in a story in our April issue. Instagram says that it's also improved its sign-up process and made it easier to find friends, so newbies can get up, running, and enjoying the experience with a minimum of friction.

04.18.17 | 7:17 am

Instagram now lets you organize all those saved meal pics into collections

The company announced the new collections feature in a blog post. The feature builds on the ability introduced last December that lets users save Instagram images that they like. Now a user can organize those saved pics into collections, so you can group all your saved hipster photos into one collection, and all your saved friends' lunch pics into another collection.

Image: Instagram

04.13.17 | 11:00 am

Instagram Stories is mixing stickers with selfies and AR

Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-inspired feature that Instagram has been upgrading at an accelerated pace—and which is now used by 200 million people a day—is getting some new sticker-related features. You can now turn a selfie into a sticker. And (as in Snapchat Stories) you can "pin" a sticker to a particular spot in a video, such as someone's shirt, whereupon it will travel along as that spot moves.

In addition, Stories is adding geo-stickers—stickers that are available only when you're in a particular area—for Chicago, London, Madrid, and Tokyo. Each city's stickers were designed by locals.

03.22.17 | 10:12 am

Instagram keeps fleshing out new opportunities for merchants

Over the last two years, Instagram has bulked up its ad offerings with the introduction of shoppable and interactive posts. Now it's delving into more business services through appointment booking. In the coming months the photo-sharing platform will give users the opportunity to book everything from blowouts to table reservations, according to Bloomberg.  

Roughly 80% of users follow a business, reports Bloomberg. But conducting business has remained confined to direct messaging. This move reinforces Instagram's firm focus on fleshing out opportunities for merchants, which may ultimately drive engagement (read: money) for the platform.  

02.22.17 | 11:00 am

Now your Instagram posts can be mini-albums of photos and videos

Ever since Instagram added its Snapchat-inspired Instagram Stories last August, it's concentrated on building out that feature, which has become a runaway hit. Today, however, it's announcing a major upgrade to Instagram in its classic form: the ability to upload multiple images and videos—up to 10 of them—in one album-like post.  

This being Instagram, the new feature has been implemented in a straightforward fashion: a new button lets you select multiple items. Once you've made your choices, you can apply a filter to all of them en masse or one at a time; only the classic Instagram square format is currently supported. People who view your feed can swipe to see them one by one, like a slideshow. Though there are some conceptual similarities to Stories, which also involve multiple pieces of media, there's nothing particularly Snapchatty about this new capability—especially since everything stays available forever rather than going poof after 24 hours.