The short: Instagram temporarily walked back its latest updates, thanks to stinging user feedback.
The dramatic week began with an IG post
and a link to a change.org petition – from photographer Tati Bruening, demanding:
Make Instagram Instagram again (stop trying to be tiktok i just want to see cute photos of my friends.)
It quickly went viral, garnering over 2 million likes and reposts from A-list celebrities.
New feature, who dis?: Instagram started experimenting with a full-screen feed for pictures and videos while ramping up recommended posts – in line with a new product shift.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a recent earnings call that approximately 15% of the posts people see on Facebook (and a much higher percentage on Instagram) are from algorithmic recommendations. This number will double in the coming months.
Not everyone was excited by the new changes. Celebrity creators Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner joined the users demanding Instagram walk back its new features. Industry analysts speculated about the impact the Kardashian-Jenner backlash would have on Meta’s bottom line – reminiscent of a 2o18 tweet
by Kylie Jenner, which cost Snapchat almost $1 billion in losses.
Long shot: Meta’s earnings call revealed it fell short of revenue projections by 0.45% ($130 million) due to severe global economic downturn. The Snapchat effect was lost on Meta.
Instagram responds: Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri addressed the backlash, stating that the increased in-feed recommendations help expose creators to new global audiences.
However, he did acknowledge that -
If you’re seeing things in your feed that are recommendations that you’re not interested in, that means that we’re doing a bad job ranking, and we need to improve.
A new plan: Instagram will phase out the full-screen feed and reduce recommended posts in the coming weeks. It’s a retreat but not a surrender. You can expect the company will double down on its video-focused ambitions in the future.
Final thoughts: I’m 50-50 on this one. I respect a company that listens and does right by its users. However, I also understand the need to make big shifts as user behaviour changes.
Ultimately, Instagram will determine the best compromise, and users will adapt.