Instagram’s Co-founders Are Back With Artifact, a Kind of TikTok for Text

Feb 2, 2023
Updated • Feb 2, 2023

It’s good news all around for social media users. Instagram co-founders, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, are back after departing Facebook in 2018 due to rising tensions. 

What Is Their Latest Offering?

Both have come together to form a new venture and are exploring next-gen social apps. Their first product is called Artifact. It is an app that uses Machine Learning (ML) to present personal news feeds. The app uses ML to look at users’ interests and personal information and provides news based on that.

What Is Artifact?

Artifact literally translates to merging articles and facts. The only difference here is it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to do this. The app has a wait list, which opened to the public on January 31st. According to Systrom, the app will let in users quickly and is available for iOS and Android.

So what is Artifact all about? In simpler terms, Artifact is the TikTok for the texting world. When you open the app, you get news feeds of popular articles from top publishers such as The New York Times and the Washington Post. You even get articles from small blogs and other niche topics. When you tap on any article that interests you, Artifact will remember your preference and provide similar feeds in the future. 

While new users will only see the news feed, beta testers of the app are testing two other features. As per Systrom, these two features will be the highlight of the app. The first feature will show articles from users that you follow. It will also contain their commentary on those articles. The second feature is an inbox. This allows you to share articles with friends and discuss them privately.

Instagram’s Co-founders Are Back With Artifact

What Does Artifact Bring to the Table?

There have been several apps over the years that have tried capitalizing on video platforms and monetizing them. Artifact is different, as it focuses purely on text. The founders are confident that their experience in the world of social media will help their latest creation be a bigger success.

Krieger and Systrom have been brainstorming Artifact for the last couple of years. While Systrom was initially skeptical of the ML system’s abilities, his experience with Instagram eventually helped it turn around. This isn’t the first project Krieger and Systrom have worked on. They created in 2020 that helped track the spread of Covid. While that was more of a social service, Systrom did not want to start a new company till a few things happened. First, he wanted a fresh wave in customer technology to emerge that Krieger and he could capitalize on. He wanted that wave to connect to social technology, which he and Krieger firmly believe in. He also wanted their product to solve a problem. 

What Inspired Artifact?

The transformer enabled the creation of Artifact. For those who are not aware, the transformer was invented by Google in 2017. It is a mechanism that understands language with minimal input. The transformer helped ML systems improve faster, and this directly led to ChatGPT’s release. The T in ChatGPT stands for transformers.

The transformer helped create new possibilities for social media. The initial social media model involved showing you what your friends thought was interesting. This changed over the years, and it now shows you content based on the people you follow. It went from the Facebook model to the Twitter model.

TikTok used algorithmic predictions to show content, irrespective of whether you followed them or not. Artifact expects to do the same thing, except with text.

This is not the first attempt at personalized recommendations for blogs and articles. In 2014, Pulse and Zite came into the picture. However, both disappeared without a trace. SmartNew, based in Tokyo, uses a similar AI model; however, it recently laid off about 40% of its workforce, citing a decline in users.

While Artifact has not committed to a business model, advertising would obviously be included. Systrom is also open to the idea of sharing revenue with publishers. If Artifact reaches the expected heights, it will be the new go-to app for new publications.

Instagram’s Co-founders Are Back With Artifact

What Will Artifact Do?

Artifact’s primary job will be to provide users with high-quality news. This means the app will only include and manage work that meets high-quality standards. While the company will not disclose all publishers, you can search for names in the app. According to Systrom, the company reserves the right to include and exclude certain publishers.

Artifact will also exclude posts that promote falsehoods. The ML systems will be optimized to see how long you spend reading articles on various topics rather than focusing on what you comment and click on. This will help the app provide engaging content.

While Krieger and Systrom are funding Artifact on their own, they are expecting investors to break down their door soon. A highly trained group of seven people are currently working on the app. One among them is Robby Stein. Stein worked with Instagram between 2016 and 2021. Since Systrom and Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook for almost $715 million, money is not the motivating factor behind Artifact. So, what is? According to Systrom, they like building things. Both love writing code and creating products that people enjoy. He feels that ML is one of the coolest things to work with right now. It predicts your behavior, and you get answers to various queries within seconds. 

Will Artifact Be Successful? 

The app shows promise and coming from Krieger and Systrom, it certainly has a bit of charm. The predictor works well, and the time is right for something like this. With AI making the headlines almost every day and Twitter headed in the wrong direction under Elon Musk, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of an AI-based news feed. Whether Artifact will be a hit like Instagram, only time will tell.


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  1. Cor Invictus said on February 2, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    “With AI making the headlines almost every day and Twitter headed in the wrong direction under Elon Musk, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of an AI-based news feed.”

    Sure, it’s much better for the sheeple to constantly gaze into heavily curated main stream media lies, aka “high-quality news”, right?!
    Disgusting article!

    1. smaragdus said on February 2, 2023 at 5:43 pm

      @Cor Invictus

      If this article were the only disgusting one it would be great but unfortunately the whole site has become a toxic corporate junk-yard where useful information is scarce at best.

      @Martin Brinkmann

      Former gHacks is dead, the new one is an abominable disgrace, better leave it rot and start s new one.

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