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Inside the Instagram AI that fills Explore with fresh, juicy content

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Instagram has posted an article describing the behind-the-scenes machinery that fills the Explore tab in Instagram with new, interesting stuff every time you open it. It’s a bit technical, so here are five takeaways.

Even Instagram and Facebook have limited resources

Unlike the feed, which some still would prefer was simply chronological, the Explore tab needs to be algorithmically driven. But understanding what’s happening on an image-based social network and recommending new content to people is a problem that’s exactly as hard as you make it.

If these companies had infinite processing power and time, they’d probably come at the question of Explore a bit differently. But as it is they need to serve hundreds of millions of people on short notice and with merely enormous computing resources. I think they put this at the top of the post so people don’t wonder why they’re cutting corners.

It’s also easier to experiment and iterate when you can change stuff and see results quickly, they point out.

It’s all about the account, not the post

So much is posted to Instagram that it would be pretty much impossible to keep track of every photo individually, for recommendation purposes anyway. It’s simpler and more efficient to track accounts, since accounts tend to have themes or topics, from a broader one like “travel” to something highly specific, like especially round seals.

While liking one post from an account doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like everything else from that account, it is a good indicator that you’re at least interested in the theme of that account. Even if it was this particular post of this particular cat that you wanted to heart because it reminds you of old Mittens, if you’re liking pictures from an account that mostly posts cats, that’s valuable information.

Complex habits inform the algorithm

Notably it isn’t just image features that Instagram uses to figure out what accounts are topically linked, though of course that kind of thing can be detected too. They also use your behavior.

For instance, when you like several posts in a row, they’re more likely to be linked in some way even if Instagram’s algorithms can’t quite see it:

If an individual interacts with a sequence of accounts in the same session, it’s more likely to be topically coherent compared with a random sequence of accounts from the diverse range of Instagram accounts. This helps us identify topically similar accounts.

People just tend to look into stuff that way, going from one travel-focused account to the next, or focusing on animals because they need a pick-me up. All that information gets sucked up by the algorithm and inspected for relevance. Of course deliberate actions like “see fewer posts like this” and blocking accounts has a lot of weight as well.

From “seed accounts” to a top 25

The process of getting from a couple billion posts to just two dozen can be pretty difficult, but you can cut the problem down to manageable size by limiting the Explore tab to accounts linked in some way to accounts the user has already liked or saved posts from. These are called “seed accounts” because everything else in the process really grows out of them.

Because of how the machine learning system represents accounts and their topics inside itself, it’s super easy for it to find a couple hundred similar accounts.

Imagine if you know someone likes a particular reddish-orange marble and you need to find some more like it. If you just dip your hand into a sack of marbles you’re unlikely to find one quickly. Even if you pour them out on the floor you’ll still have to hunt around for a bit. But if you’ve already organized them by color, all you have to do is reach into the general vicinity of the marble they like and you’re almost guaranteed to pick a winner.

The machine learning model does that by giving all these accounts a sort of location in a virtual space, and the closer two are in that space, the closer they are topically.

So the really hard part of paring down a set of billions to a set of hundreds is basically already accomplished by the way the accounts are classified.

From there Instagram does three passes with neural networks of increasing complexity.

First, slightly confusingly, is a simpler, combined version of the next two processes, which takes it from 500 to 150 accounts. This is a little weird, but think about it this way: This neural network has seen steps 2 and 3 happen many times and has a pretty good idea of what they do. Sort of like if you’d seen cookies get made enough times that you could guess at a recipe. You’d probably get close, but you also wouldn’t want to publish it to like a hundred million people. So this step just gets the obvious stuff right.

Second is a computationally cheap neural network that uses way more signals than the simple topical similarity mentioned above. Here’s where your individual likes come into play, as well as the deeper data about accounts. You like travel, sure, but in particular you like couples traveling — both things the marble-sorting algorithm above can help with. Other parameters, like a post’s general popularity, or actually its being different from the other posts in the mix, figure in as well. That skims another 100 off the top, leaving 50.

Third is a computationally expensive version of the above, which does another pass on those 50 and cuts them in half, basically by looking closer and taking the time to include, perhaps, a thousand data points each rather than a hundred.

I guess that was kind of long for a “takeaway.” Don’t worry, the next one is quick.

And of course, no 🍑

“We want to make sure the content we recommend is both safe and appropriate for a global community of many ages on Explore,” they write. “Using a variety of signals, we filter out content we can identify as not being eligible to be recommended.”

So now you know why you don’t get any of that in Explore.

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Facebook and Google ad oligopoly is over, fund manager says

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Facebook and Google ad oligopoly is over, fund manager says

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Inge Heydorn, fund manager at GP Bullhound, discusses competition in the digital ad market, what investors will be looking for in Meta’s results, and why it’s “all about TikTok.”

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Mike Lindell Says Jimmy Kimmel Wants to Put Him in a Big Claw Machine

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Mike Lindell Says Jimmy Kimmel Wants to Put Him in a Big Claw Machine
  • Mike Lindell says Jimmy Kimmel is requesting to interview him on his show. 
  • But Kimmel had one request, Lindell said: The pillow CEO has to sit inside a giant claw machine.
  • Lindell said this is because he is unvaccinated. 

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel had one request of him: The pillow CEO must sit inside a giant claw machine during their interview.

“A lot of you have reached out to me: ‘Mike, don’t do it, he’s going to attack you. Why did you agree to go inside a claw game?'” Lindell said during a Facebook live stream on Tuesday. Lindell is scheduled to appear on Kimmel’s talk show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” on Tuesday.

“Which I did, because they, you can’t go inside the studio if you’re not vaccinated. And of course, I’m not vaccinated,” Lindell added. 

“Maybe I’ll find out that that claw game was rigged, huh, the one that picks up the stuffed animals,” Lindell quipped, seemingly referencing his own baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

The pillow CEO said his appearance on Kimmel “should be very, very interesting.” He also said he was only agreeing to the interview because he thinks it will help “save our country.”

Kimmel appeared to confirm Lindell’s account, tweeting: “MyPillow Mike from a claw machine tonight!” 

 

Kimmel said on Monday that Lindell has “repeatedly” asked to be on the show, and that he’s tried to invite Lindell back many times.

Lindell’s last appearance on Kimmel’s show was in April 2021. During their nearly 20-minute conversation, Kimmel pummeled Lindell with questions about his voter fraud claims.

“A lot of people didn’t want you to come on this show. Liberals and conservatives, told me not to have you on, and they told you don’t go on the show,” Kimmel told Lindell in 2021. “But I think it’s important that we talk to each other.”

Lindell is fresh off a big loss in his race for RNC chair, where he only secured four votes.

Lindell and representatives for Kimmel did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.



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Brandi Carlile and Catherine Shepherd Full Relationship Timeline

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Brandi Carlile and Catherine Shepherd Full Relationship Timeline

Once upon a time, Brandi Carlile and Catherine Shepherd first crossed paths via the telephone while they were in different countries and kept in touch FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR before they met IRL and fell in love. ❤️ They’ve been going strong ever since and have (blessedly) not been shy about posting their adorable ‘ship on social. Prepare to laugh, cry, and see tons of endearing Facebook life update posts as we walk through their decades-long ‘ship!

2009

Truly still can’t get over how iconic the beginning of this love story was. Way back when, Catherine—who is originally from the United Kingdom—was working for former Beatles singer Paul McCartney‘s charity. During one fated day while she was reaching out to donate Beatles memorabilia to Brandi’s Fight the Fear campaign, she actually wound up speaking to the singer herself. And the rest is history! Well…kind of.

2010

The pair wound up speaking for an entire year (!!) before they finally met IRL in New York City in 2010. “It was shocking to say the least,” Brandi confessed to People over a decade later in April 2021. “Every time I talked to her over the phone, I thought I was talking to somebody who was like 65 years old. I don’t know why. I think because of her wisdom and her demeanor. Or maybe I thought she was Paul’s age or something. So we met backstage in New York, and we were both like 27.”

 

Obsessed with them. Obsessed with this pic. Obsessed with everything!

musicares person of the year tribute to joni mitchell arrivals

Frazer Harrison//Getty Images

May 16, 2012

Brandi and Catherine walked their first red carpet at the 2012 Donor Of The Day Celebration at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. 😭❤️

2012 donor of the day celebration

Gary Gershoff//Getty Images

September 15, 2012

Only a few months after their red carpet ~debut~, the duo tied the knot in Boston during a ceremony in front of family and friends. At the time, Brandi took to Facebook to share everything that went down, including some truly wow moments you couldn’t make up if you tried.

brandi carlile and catherine shepherd

Facebook

“See I’m sure all weddings have an insane week preceding the event but me and Catherine might have won that contest,” the singer wrote on Facebook. “Bailey (the dog) had to be rushed to the vet on our wedding day, and the day before the wedding we had to put down one of our goats (RIP Tim). To top it all off our priest didn’t show up! Ha ha! (Not her fault but it’ll be one of those funny stories well be telling for years). My church friends Jason and Mandy were there and Jason performed the perfect ceremony with 15 minutes notice!” she continued.

Even with all this happening, Brandi maintained, “It was truly one of our best days, completely awkward and human and beautiful. I’m married to my best friend and nothing has ever brought me more joy than that.” Obsessed!

February 2013

“The more the merrier” was clearly the wedding theme for Brandi and Catherine, because they wound up following their Boston wedding with a ceremony in Brandi’s home state of Washington before heading to England for a civil ceremony in front of Catherine’s friends and family.

In another Facebook post, the Grammy winner mused the following alongside an image of herself and Catherine at their wedding venue: “We had our London ceremony at the famous Chelsea Old Town Hall. It was one of our best days and when the officiant asked if anyone could think of a reason we should not be married, a four-year-old guest wisely shouted NO!”

brandi carlile and catherine shepherd

Facebook

June 15, 2014

Congrats were in order for the stunning couple, who welcomed their first child, daughter Evangeline Ruth, in 2014. Brandi shared an adorbs photo of the bb with the caption, “Please allow me to introduce Evangeline Ruth Carlile, Born June 15th. Welcome to the world kid! xobc.”

The couple opened up about having IVF treatments to get pregnant, and Brandi was super honest about the process.

“I made peace with knowing that there was some pioneering involved in what we were doing, to the point where there wasn’t even a two mother template on a birth certificate yet,” she confessed to People. “There is now, but psychologically, all these things are really hard. And the high dive into parenting is a complicated leap to take anyway…I’m hoping people see through my story that there’s no right or wrong way to evolve into a parenting role in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships.”

February 15, 2016

Brandi and Catherine looked amaze during their appearance at the 58th annual Grammy Awards. The night was especially meaningful, as it also marked Brandi’s first year being nominated for Best Americana Album for The Firewatcher’s Daughter.

brandi carlile and catherine shepherd

Larry Busacca//Getty Images

January 6, 2017

The duo realized a bucket list goal after attending a farewell party at the White House for former President Barack Obama. Always a Facebook girly, Brandi took to the platform to reflect on the evening: “We had the unbelievable privilege of spending the evening at the White House with the first family and friends in what will no doubt go down in history as a legendary party! It was so diverse and beautiful, full of all walks of life and an amazing sense of strength and community.”

March 18, 2018

Brandi and Catherine welcomed baby number two, a daughter named Elijah.

On Instagram, the singer noted that the newest addition to their family was 9 pounds, making Catherine “a beast.” Truly loving the sense of humor these two have. 😂

February 10, 2019

The couple stepped out to attend the 61st Grammy Awards, where Brandi delivered a legendary performance of her song “The Joke.”

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Brandi Carlile – The Joke (LIVE at the 61st GRAMMYs)

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Oh, and she also happened to be the most-nominated female artist of the night, NBD. (But actually, Very Big Deal.)

April 6, 2021

Brandi released her memoir, Broken Horses, which topped the New York Times bestseller list shortly after its release. I mean, what can’t she do?!?!?

. ‘Broken Horses: A Memoir’

'Broken Horses: A Memoir'

. ‘Broken Horses: A Memoir’

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Credit: Amazon

June 1, 2021

Though Catherine doesn’t have an Instagram, she cheekily did a takeover on her wife’s account to celebrate her 40th birthday, and it could not be any cuter. “Happy 40th birthday to my beautiful, brilliant and fearless wife Brandi. I woke up this morning thinking about us falling in love on the eve of your 30th birthday 10 years ago in New York City. We were both tortured poets, too thin and unaware of the remarkable life that we were about to build together.”

P.S. Should you choose to read the whole post (you’re doing yourself a serious disservice if you don’t), you’re gonna wanna break out a box or two of Kleenex.

May 8, 2022

Brandi posts a sweet Mother’s Day vid to Instagram. Cue the waterworks again!

August 10, 2022

Brandi and Catherine decide to launch their monthly radio show, Somewhere Over the Radio.

A few months later, the singer posts a clip of herself and Catherine goofing off in the studio alongside the caption, “My wife Catherine took me to work with her today. I took it very seriously because I’m a professional, she on the other hand… 🤪. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock these past few months, my wife and I have a radio show! Celebrating queer brilliance in music!”

October 14, 2022

The couple beautifully sang Brandi’s song “You and Me on the Rock” for a live IMAX event.

Literally no words, just seconding *the* Mandy Moore’s comment: “Damn! Of course you both sound like magic together. So beautiful!!!!”

And that’s about it! This timeline will be updated with the next sweet installment of Brandi and Catherine’s relationship.

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