Future

How Facebook Could Make Foodie Billions By Plugging Instagram Into Graph Search

As Instagram users snap and tag their lastest best meal, Yelp, OpenTable and even FourSquare could be victims of Zuckerberg's appetite.

How Facebook Could Make Foodie Billions By Plugging Instagram Into Graph Search
Owen Thomas

Instagram snaps of the delicious meal you're about to eat are such a cliché, they played a starring role in CollegeHumor's hilarious takedown of the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site.

But for restaurateurs, these pics are no joke: People are taking a massive number of photos of food, and Instagram's Photo Map feature instantly shows what's being served at a restaurant. That was the rationale behind OpenTable's $10 million acquisition of Foodspotting this week.

New numbers reported by MomentFeed, a startup that helps brands manage location pages on services like Facebook and Foursquare, show what a huge phenomenon this is.

It's not limited to fancy, upscale restaurants in San Francisco and New York; people are taking huge numbers of photos in chain restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang's.

In an 18-day period studied at the end of 2012, users posted 4,899 photos tagged with a Cheesecake Factory location on Instagram. (MomentFeed only analyzed place-tagged photos, not comments or hashtags.)

Those numbers destroy what's happening on Foodspotting, a service dedicated to this particular art form. Instagram had 40 times the number of photos taken at Chevy's locations versus Foodspotting. At Texas Roadhouse, the ratio was 22 times. And those numbers are typical for most chain restaurants.

Yelp has long offered the ability to upload photos alongside reviews. But a spotcheck of the Cheesecake Factory location in downtown San Francisco, a Yelp stronghold, shows 564 photos posted over the past six years. The pace of posting has picked up recently, boosted by Yelp's mobile app. Our rough estimate shows Instagram users posting two to three times more frequently at Cheesecake Factory locations.

"It's obvious Instagram is the real Foodspotting," MomentFeed CEO Rob Reed told Business Insider. "That's why Foodspotting stalled and were acquired. Vertically focused apps don't make it."

We don't think OpenTable bought Foodspotting for its photo database, of course—it's more about bringing mobile and social talent into the company and setting them loose on OpenTable's larger user base. But even then, Instagram has such a huge head start on food photos, we're not sure how OpenTable will ever catch up.

What's the implication for Facebook? Huge, if it can tie the photos together with Graph Search and location pages.

While Graph Search is currently limited, one thing it can do right now is show all the photos taken at a particular location.

Foodspotting and Yelp both excel at offering detailed information about restaurants. On Foodspotting, users tag photos with specific dishes, while on Yelp, they can write free-form reviews whose text can be mined for insights and relevancy.

But most people are visual, and photos mean more to them. At San Francisco's Cheesecake Factory, there are more than 1,000 photos already—and Instagram promises to funnel far more into the maw of Facebook's voracious data machine.

Facebook can also show friends who have been there. Those links, together with photos, constitute a far more visceral kind of recommendation than OpenTable or Yelp, with their much smaller user bases, can currently offer.

So the combination of photos and friends—Facebook's basic formula—could prompt more local advertisers to take Facebook seriously as an advertising vehicle, if they aren't doing so already.

The only real threat to Facebook comes from Foursquare. At the Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco, Foursquare has 890 user photos. And Instagram currently relies on Foursquare to tie location data to specific businesses; users can simultaneously post Instagram photos to Facebook and Foursquare.

Then again, Facebook could well switch Instagram from Foursquare's places database to its own. And as local-business search gets more and more important, it's hard to imagine Facebook isn't thinking about that.

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$57,789

A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


📣 VERBATIM

"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."


— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.

🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS

Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Are you more Chicago Bulls or running of the bulls? Let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com info@worldcrunch.com!

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