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Instagram Stories may get the iPhone’s best camera feature

  • The Scoop: Instagram is currently testing “Focus,” a new camera mode that digitally imitates the effects of Portrait Mode, within Stories for a small number of users. Portrait Mode allows users to blur the background of a focused foreground subject, creating an effect that was previously reserved for professional photographers. This feature was first launched on the iPhone 7 Plus and is now available on other premium smartphones including the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, Google’s Pixel 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8. “Focus” may or may not roll out to all users in the future, but it is exciting for anyone who wants to enjoy the artistic effects of Portrait Mode without without the price tag of a premium smartphone.

Snapchat and Instagram pull Giphy stickers over racist GIF

  • The Scoop: Instagram and Snapchat have disabled the Giphy’s GIF sticker feature due to the discovery of a racist sticker. The extremely offensive GIF sticker read, “N—- Crime Death Counter — Keep Cranking Bonzo, the Numbers Just Keep on Climbing!” and was first found by a user on Snapchat and then Instagram shortly after. Giphy’s community guidelines prohibit hate speech, but after at least one sticker has fallen through the cracks, the platform has fixed the bug in its content moderation filters that allowed the availability of this sticker and is in the process of manually reviewing every sticker it offers. It is unknown if Giphy will be reintroduced to Snapchat and Instagram in the future.

Snapchat brings creator-made lenses front and center in app

  • The Scoop: Beginning in late March, Snapchat will feature creator-made lenses alongside Snapchat-created and promoted lenses. Users can craft lenses using Snapchat’s Lens Studio, the tool used to create augmented reality experiences and choose if they would like their lenses to be considered for inclusion in the app. User-created lenses cannot be branded to avoid conflict with promoted lenses. This update will begin in limited capacity with a few artists featured periodically and the selected lenses will show the creator’s Snapchat display name, providing potential exposure to Snapchats 187 million active users. This change is part of an effort coined “creator boosting” by Snapchat, and the platform hopes that artists will enjoy this new opportunity to share their AR creations.


Burger King staged a car fire on a highway, and surprised those who stopped to help

  • The Scoop: Burger King staged a stunt for Good Samaritan day this Tuesday by setting a car on fire on the side of the highway and rewarding the real-life people who pulled over to help with a flame-grilled Whopper. Many of those who stopped to help were prepared to douse the fire with anything from a fire extinguisher to a handful of sand, and were shocked to be greeted by Burger King’s mascot, The King, grilling whoppers in the rear hood of the car with no emergency engine fire in sight. A short video was produced to record the experience with footage of the relieved good samaritans enjoying Whoppers and wearing Burger King paper crowns gifted to them by The King himself.


Facebook Watch to get exclusive rights to 25 MLB games

  • The Scoop: The MLB has entered an exclusive partnership with Facebook to stream 25 weekly games on Facebook Watch, starting with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies game on Wednesday, April 4. The games will be available on the MLB Live show Page on Facebook Watch and produced by the MLB with the help of an Emmy-winning production team. The games will be accessible across all Facebook Watch platforms, including smartphones and other mobile devices. Through this partnership, the MLB hopes to bolster the community and conversations surrounding MLB games.

Snapchat launches ‘True Crime/Uncovered’ series from Condé Nast Entertainment

  • The Scoop: Conde Nast Entertainment has produced a six-episode crime series called “True Crime/Uncovered” exclusively for Snapchat. Hosted by actress Samantha Miller, each five-minute episode explores a real-life crime with digital video footage, interviews, police evidence and other sources. Snap predicts that the mysterious series will be successful with younger users.

Nike shoppers can now test-run sneakers on a treadmill hooked up to a video game

  • The Scoop: Nike has created a one-of-a-kind experience in China to enable users to test out its new “Epic React” shoes. Shoppers first have their picture taken to generate a digitized version of themselves, then put on the sneakers and hop on a treadmill which guides their avatar through a variety of landscapes around the world. Players can also leap with the use of a handheld trigger. This activation is a playful way to emphasize the sneakers’ new technology, which Nike describes as bouncy, soft, light and durable.  Each participant receives a 10-second video of their experience to share on social media.