Artifact is taking on Twitter and Substack by letting you follow writers

Artifact, the AI-powered news app from Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, has a new feature that makes it even more of a news-focused social media app. With the latest version of the Artifact app, you can now follow individual writers. Articles from those writers will be prioritized in your feed and you can opt to get notifications when those writers post.

Writers can also claim their profiles on Artifact to get a verified checkmark beside their name in search and in Artifact’s comments. (Writers can only claim profiles on iOS, but it’s coming to Android soon, Systrom tells The Verge.) Yes, Artifact lets users comment on individual articles, meaning those comments live outside of stories that may already have comment sections of their own. Writers can also get notifications about how many people read their articles on Artifact and when other publications link to your work.

It feels like Artifact sees an opportunity to create a space for news and light social networking given the many recent changes at Twitter. Many people already use platforms like Twitter just to talk about news, but Twitter isn’t really fun now, so Artifact seems to be positioning itself as a better place for news hounds to hang out and talk with each other about the latest goings on. When it launched earlier this year, Casey Newton called Artifact “a kind of TikTok for text,” and I think that’s still accurate.

Where Artifact could stand out is by keeping its focus just on news; as a journalist, I can see the appeal of using the app to find new stories and talk with readers. But after awhile, that’s just going to feel like work — I’m not sure I’ll want to hang out there for too long when there’s internet chaos elsewhere.

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