Artifact, the news app that aimed to combine artificial intelligence and human curation, has announced its decision to shut down its operations. The app was launched in January 2023 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, after they left Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2018.
According to a blog post by Systrom, the app failed to find a large enough market opportunity to justify continued investment. He wrote that the team had worked hard to build Artifact into a product that millions of people could use every day, but they had not found a way to do that.
He also wrote that making the tough call earlier was better for everyone involved, as the biggest opportunity cost was time working on newer, bigger and better things that had the ability to reach many millions of people. He expressed his excitement to continue building new things, though he did not reveal what that might be.
What Artifact did
Artifact was initially launched as a personalized news aggregator that used AI to summarize news, rewrite clickbait headlines, and surface the best content from various sources. Users could also create and share their own posts, which were called artifacts, and comment on other posts.
The app aimed to provide a different experience from other social media platforms, where users often encountered misinformation, polarization, and toxicity. Artifact claimed to use AI to filter out low-quality content and promote civil discourse.
The app also employed several AI tools to enhance the user experience, such as a voice assistant that could read the news aloud, a smart camera that could capture and annotate images, and a recommendation system that could suggest relevant topics and sources.
How Artifact performed
Artifact quickly gained a loyal following for its innovative approach to news consumption and creation. The app received positive reviews from users and critics, who praised its design, functionality, and quality of content.
However, the app also faced several challenges, such as competing with established news apps and social networks, attracting and retaining users, and monetizing its service. The app was free to use, but it had plans to introduce a subscription model in the future.
The app also had to deal with some technical issues, such as bugs, glitches, and downtime. Some users also complained about the lack of diversity and transparency in the app’s content selection and curation.
What Artifact’s future is
Artifact will continue to operate its core news reading capability through the end of February 2024. In order to slim down operations, the app has removed the ability to add new posts and comments, effective on January 12th.
The company has thanked its users for their support and feedback, and has expressed its hope that technology can find ways to preserve and support journalism. The company has also encouraged its users to explore other news apps and platforms that share its vision and values.