Instagram History

Instagram[a] is a photo and video sharing social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. The app allows users to upload media that can be edited with filters, be organized by hashtags, and be associated with a location — via geographical tagging. Posts can be shared publicly or with preapproved followers. Users can browse other users’ content by tags and locations, view trending content, like photos, and follow other users to add their content to a personal feed.[7]

Instagram was originally distinguished by allowing content to be framed only in a square (1:1) aspect ratio of 640 pixels to match the display width of the iPhone at the time. In 2015, this restriction was eased with an increase to 1080 pixels. It also added messaging features, the ability to include multiple images or videos in a single post, and a Stories feature—similar to its main competitor Snapchat—which allowed users to post their content to a sequential feed, with each post accessible to others for 24 hours. As of January 2019, Stories is used by 500 million people daily.[7]

Originally launched for iOS in October 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year, and 1 billion by June 2018.In April 2012, Facebook Inc. acquired the service for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock (equivalent to $1,184,000,000 in 2021). The Android version was released in April 2012, followed by a feature-limited desktop interface in November 2012, a Fire OS app in June 2014, and an app for Windows 10 in October 2016. As of October 2015, over 40 billion photos had been uploaded. Although often admired for its success and influence, Instagram has also been criticized for negatively affecting teens’ mental health, its policy and interface changes, its alleged censorship, and illegal and inappropriate content uploaded by users.


For a chronological guide, see Timeline of Instagram.

Instagram icon from 2016 to 2022, when it was updated to include even more saturated colors
Instagram began development in San Francisco as Burbn, a mobile check-in app created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. On March 5, 2010, Systrom closed a $500,000 (equivalent to $615,400 in 2021) seed funding round with Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on Burbn.[8][9] Realizing that it was too similar to Foursquare, they refocused their app on photo-sharing, which had become a popular feature among its users.[10][11] They renamed it Instagram, a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram”.[12]

2010–2011: Beginnings and major funding

Josh Riedel joined the company in October as Community Manager,[13] Shayne Sweeney joined in November as an engineer,[13] and Jessica Zollman joined as a Community Evangelist in August 2011.[13][14]

The first Instagram post was a photo of South Beach Harbor at Pier 38, posted by Mike Krieger at 5:26 p.m. on July 16, 2010.[15][11] Systrom shared his first post, a picture of a dog and his girlfriend’s foot, a few hours later at 9:24 p.m. It has been wrongly attributed as the first Instagram photo due to the earlier letter of the alphabet in its URL.[16][17][better source needed] On October 6, 2010, the Instagram iOS app was officially released through the App Store. In February 2011, it was reported that Instagram had raised $7 million (equivalent to $8,441,218 in 2021) in Series A funding from a variety of investors, including Benchmark Capital, Jack Dorsey, Chris Sacca (through Capital fund), and Adam D’Angelo.[18] The deal valued Instagram at around $20 million. In April 2012, Instagram raised $50 million (equivalent to $59,190,000 in 2021) from venture capitalists with a valuation of $500 million (equivalent to $591,900,000 in 2021).[19] Joshua Kushner was the second largest investor in Instagram’s Series B fundraising round, leading his investment firm, Thrive Capital, to double its money after the sale to Facebook.[20]

2012–2014: Additional platforms and acquisition by Facebook

On April 3, 2012, Instagram released a version of its app for Android phones,[21][22] and it was downloaded more than one million times in less than one day.[23] The Android app has since received two significant updates: first, in March 2014, which cut the file size of the app by half and added performance improvements;[24][25] then in April 2017, to add an offline mode that allows users to view and interact with content without an Internet connection. At the time of the announcement, it was reported that 80% of Instagram’s 600 million users were located outside the U.S., and while the aforementioned functionality was live at its announcement, Instagram also announced its intention to make more features available offline, and that they were “exploring an iOS version”.On April 9, 2012, Facebook, Inc. (now Meta Platforms) bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stockequivalent to $1,184,000,000 in 2021, [26][27][28] with a plan to keep the company independently managed.[29][30][31] Britain’s Office of Fair Trading approved the deal on August 14, 2012,[32] and on August 22, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. closed its investigation, allowing the deal to proceed.[33] On September 6, 2012, the deal between Instagram and Facebook officially closed with a purchase price of $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock.[34]

The deal closed just before Facebook’s scheduled initial public offering according to CNN.[31] The deal price was compared to the $35 million Yahoo! paid for Flickr in 2005.[31] Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently.”[31] According to Wired, the deal netted Systrom $400 million.[35]

In November 2012, Instagram launched website profiles, allowing anyone to see user feeds from a web browser with limited functionality,[36] as well as a selection of badges, and web widget buttons to link to profiles.[37]

Since the app’s launch it had used the Foursquare API technology to provide named location tagging. In March 2014, Instagram started to test and switch the technology to use Facebook Places.[38][39]

2015–2017: Redesign and Windows app

Instagram headquarters in Menlo Park
In June 2015, the desktop website user interface was redesigned to become more flat and minimalistic, but with more screen space for each photo and to resemble the layout of Instagram’s mobile website.[40][41][42] Furthermore, one row of pictures only has three instead of five photos to match the mobile layout. The slideshow banner[43][44] on the top of profile pages, which simultaneously slide-showed seven picture tiles of pictures posted by the user, alternating at different times in a random order, has been removed. In addition, the formerly angular profile pictures became circular.

In April 2016, Instagram released a Windows 10 Mobile app, after years of demand from Microsoft and the public to release an app for the platform.[45][46] The platform previously had a beta version of Instagram, first released on November 21, 2013, for Windows Phone 8.[47][48][49] The new app added support for videos (viewing and creating posts or stories, and viewing live streams), album posts and direct messages.[50] Similarly, an app for Windows 10 personal computers and tablets was released in October 2016.[51][52] In May, Instagram updated its mobile website to allow users to upload photos, and to add a “lightweight” version of the Explore tab.[53][54]

On May 11, 2016, Instagram revamped its design, adding a black-and-white flat design theme for the app’s user interface, and a less skeuomorphistic, more abstract, “modern” and colorful icon.[55][56][57] Rumors of a redesign first started circulating in April, when The Verge received a screenshot from a tipster, but at the time, an Instagram spokesperson simply told the publication that it was only a concept.[58]

On December 6, 2016, Instagram introduced comment liking. However, unlike post likes, the user who posted a comment does not receive notifications about comment likes in their notification inbox. Uploaders can optionally decide to deactivate comments on a post.[59][60][61]

The mobile web front end allows uploading pictures since May 4, 2017. Image filters and the ability to upload videos were not introduced then.[62][63]

On April 30, 2019, the Windows 10 Mobile app was discontinued, though the mobile website remains available as a progressive web application (PWA) with limited functionality. The app remains available on Windows 10 computers and tablets, also updated to a PWA in 2020.

2018–2019: IGTV, removal of the like counter, management changes
To comply with the GDPR regulations regarding data portability, Instagram introduced the ability for users to download an archive of their user data in April 2018.[64][65][66]

IGTV launched on June 20, 2018, as a standalone video application.

On September 24, 2018, Krieger and Systrom announced in a statement they would be stepping down from Instagram.[67][68] On October 1, 2018, it was announced that Adam Mosseri would be the new head of Instagram.[69][70][71]

During Facebook F8, it was announced that Instagram would, beginning in Canada, pilot the removal of publicly displayed “like” counts for content posted by other users.[72] Like counts would only be visible to the user who originally posted the content. Mosseri stated that this was intended to have users “worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”[73][74] It has been argued that low numbers of likes in relativity to others could contribute to a lower self-esteem in users.[74][72] The pilot began in May 2019, and was extended to 6 other markets in July.[74][75] The pilot was expanded worldwide in November 2019.[76] Also in July 2019, Instagram announced that it would implement new features designed to reduce harassment and negative comments on the service.[77]

In August 2019, Instagram also began to pilot the removal of the “Following” tab from the app, which had allowed users to view a feed of the likes and comments made by users they follow. The change was made official in October, with head of product Vishal Shah stating that the feature was underused and that some users were “surprised” when they realized their activity was being surfaced in this manner.[78][79]

In October 2019, Instagram introduced a limit on the number of posts visible in page scrolling mode unless logged in. Until this point, public profiles had been available to all users, even when not logged in. Following the change, after viewing a number of posts a pop-up requires the user to log in to continue viewing content.[80][81][82]

That month, Instagram launched a separate app known as Threads. Similar to Snapchat, the app allowed users to communicate through messaging and video chats.[83] It was integrated with Instagram’s “Close friends” feature, so that users could send images, photos, and texts privately to others, and also had Instagram’s photo editing system embedded into the app.[84][85] However, Instagram discontinued this version of Threads in December 2021,[86] mainly due to most of its features being rolled out on Instagram itself, as well as low usage compared to other social media applications.[87] Threads was not well-received among Instagram’s user base. Since its launch, only approximately 220,000 users globally downloaded the app, which represented less than 0.1% of Instagram’s monthly active users, indicating a lack of success in driving adoption.[88]

2020–present: New features

In March 2020, Instagram launched a new feature called “Co-Watching”. The new feature allows users to share posts with each other over video calls. According to Instagram, they pushed forward the launch of Co-Watching in order to meet the demand for virtually connecting with friends and family due to social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[89]

In August 2020, Instagram began a pivot to video, introducing a new feature called “Reels”.[90][91][92] The intent was to compete with the video-sharing site TikTok.[92][93][90] Instagram also added suggested posts in August 2020. After scrolling through posts from the past 48 hours, Instagram displays posts related to their interests from accounts they do not follow.[94]

In February 2021, Instagram began testing a new feature called Vertical Stories, said by some sources to be inspired by TikTok.[95] The same month, they also began testing the removal of ability to share feed posts to stories.[96]

In March 2021, Instagram launched a new feature in which four people can go live at once.[97] Instagram Captions also announced that adults would not be allowed to message teens who don’t follow them as part of a series of new child safety policies.[98][99][100][101]

In May 2021, Instagram began allowing users in some regions to add pronouns to their profile page.[102][103]

On October 4, 2021, Meta services suffered their worst outage since 2008, bringing down Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.[104][105] Security experts identified the problem as possibly being DNS-related.[106]

On March 17, 2022, Zuckerberg confirmed plans to add non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to the platform. In September 2022, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined the company $402 million (Error when using {{Inflation}}: |start_year=2022 (parameter 3) is greater than the latest available year (2021) in index “US-GDP”.) under privacy laws recently adopted by the European Union over how it handled the privacy data of minors.[107][108][109]

After being trialled in mid-2022,[110] Instagram introduced Notes in December 2022. This feature allows users to share updates as short text posts of up to 60 characters with certain people, who can then reply to them using messaging on Instagram.[111][112]

In February 2023, Instagram introduced a new feature allowing users to browse and post GIFs in their comments.[113] That same month, Zuckerberg announced that Meta would start selling blue “verified” badges on Instagram and Facebook.[114]

On July 5, 2023, Meta launched Threads, a social network platform connected to Instagram that allows users to make public shortform blog posts comprising text, photos, and videos, as well as to converse with other users and reblog other users’ posts. Threads aims to compete with Twitter.

Features and tools

An original photograph (left) is automatically cropped to a square by Instagram, and has a filter added at the selection of the user (right).

A photo collage of an unprocessed image (top left) modified with the 16 different Instagram filters available in 2011
Users can upload photographs and short videos, follow other users’ feeds,[118] and geotag images with the name of a location.[119] Users can set their account as “private”, thereby requiring that they approve any new follower requests.[120] Users can connect their Instagram account to other social networking sites, enabling them to share uploaded photos to those sites.[121] In September 2011, a new version of the app included new and live filters, instant tilt–shift, high-resolution photographs, optional borders, one-click rotation, and an updated icon.[122][123] Photos were initially restricted to a square, 1:1 aspect ratio; since August 2015, the app supports portrait and widescreen aspect ratios as well.[124][125][126] Users could formerly view a map of a user’s geotagged photos. The feature was removed in September 2016, citing low usage.[127][128]

Since December 2016, posts can be “saved” into a private area of the app.[129][130] The feature was updated in April 2017 to let users organize saved posts into named collections.[131][132] Users can also “archive” their posts in a private storage area, out of visibility for the public and other users. The move was seen as a way to prevent users from deleting photos that don’t garner a desired number of “likes” or are deemed boring, but also as a way to limit the “emergent behavior” of deleting photos, which deprives the service of content.[133][134] In August, Instagram announced that it would start organizing comments into threads, letting users more easily interact with replies.[135][136]

Since February 2017, up to ten pictures or videos can be included in a single post, with the content appearing as a swipeable carousel.[137][138] The feature originally limited photos to the square format, but received an update in August to enable portrait and landscape photos instead.[139][140]

In April 2018, Instagram launched its version of a portrait mode called “focus mode,” which gently blurs the background of a photo or video while keeping the subject in focus when selected.[141] In November, Instagram began to support Alt text to add descriptions of photos for the visually impaired. They are either generated automatically using object recognition (using existing Facebook technology) or manually specified by the uploader.[142]

On March 1, 2021, Instagram launched a new feature named Instagram Live “Rooms” Let Four People Go Live Together.[143]

In May 2021, Instagram announced a new accessibility feature for videos on Instagram Reels and Stories to allow creators to place closed captions on their content.[144]


In January 2011, Instagram introduced hashtags to help users discover both photos and each other.[145][146] Instagram encourages users to make tags both specific and relevant, rather than tagging generic words like “photo”, to make photographs stand out and to attract like-minded Instagram users.[147]

Users on Instagram have created “trends” through hashtags. The trends deemed the most popular on the platform often highlight a specific day of the week to post the material on. Examples of popular trends include #SelfieSunday, in which users post a photo of their faces on Sundays; #MotivationMonday, in which users post motivational photos on Mondays; #TransformationTuesday, in which users post photos highlighting differences from the past to the present; #WomanCrushWednesday, in which users post photos of women they have a romantic interest in or view favorably, as well as its #ManCrushMonday counterpart centered on men; and #ThrowbackThursday, in which users post a photo from their past, highlighting a particular moment.[148][149]

In December 2017, Instagram began to allow users to follow hashtags, which display relevant highlights of the topic in their feeds.[150][151]


In June 2012, Instagram introduced “Explore”, a tab inside the app that displays popular photos, photos taken at nearby locations, and search.[152] The tab was updated in June 2015 to feature trending tags and places, curated content, and the ability to search for locations.[153] In April 2016, Instagram added a “Videos You Might Like” channel to the tab,[154][155] followed by an “Events” channel in August, featuring videos from concerts, sports games, and other live events,[156][157] followed by the addition of Instagram Stories in October.[158][159] The tab was later expanded again in November 2016 after Instagram Live launched to display an algorithmically curated page of the “best” Instagram Live videos currently airing.[160] In May 2017, Instagram once again updated the Explore tab to promote public Stories content from nearby places.[161]

Photographic filters

Instagram offers a number of photographic filters that users can apply to their images. In February 2012, Instagram added a “Lux” filter, an effect that “lightens shadows, darkens highlights and increases contrast”.[162][163] In December 2014, Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden, and Perpetua were five new filters to be added to the Instagram filter family.[164]


Initially a purely photo-sharing service, Instagram incorporated 15-second video sharing in June 2013.[165][166] The addition was seen by some in the technology media as Facebook’s attempt at competing with the then-popular video-sharing application Vine.[167][168] In August 2015, Instagram added support for widescreen videos.[169][170] In March 2016, Instagram increased the 15-second video limit to 60 seconds.[171][172] Albums were introduced in February 2017, which allow up to 10 minutes of video to be shared in one post.[137][138][173]


Main article: IGTV
IGTV is a vertical video application launched by Instagram[174] in June 2018. Basic functionality is also available within the Instagram app and website. IGTV allows uploads of up to 10 minutes in length with a file size of up to 650 MB, with verified and popular users allowed to upload videos of up to 60 minutes in length with a file size of up to 5.4 GB.[175] The app automatically begins playing videos as soon as it is launched, which CEO Kevin Systrom contrasted to video hosts where one must first locate a video.[176][177][178]


In November 2019, it was reported that Instagram had begun to pilot a new video feature known as “Reels” in Brazil, expanding to France and Germany afterwards.[179] It is similar in functionality to the Chinese video-sharing service TikTok, with a focus on allowing users to record short videos set to pre-existing sound clips from other posts.[180] Users could make up to 15 (later 30) second videos using this feature.[181] Reels also integrates with existing Instagram filters and editing tools.[175]

In July 2020, Instagram rolled out Reels to India after TikTok was banned in the country.[182] The following month, Reels officially launched in 50 countries including the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.[183] Instagram has recently introduced a reel button on home page.[184]

On June 17, 2021, Instagram launched full-screen advertisements in Reels. The ads are similar to regular reels and can run up to 30 seconds. They are distinguished from regular content by the “sponsored” tag under the account name.[185]

Despite the “TikTokification” of Reels and the parent company Meta spending millions on courting content creators, user engagement continued to lag far behind TikTok as of 2022.[186]

Instagram Direct

In December 2013, Instagram announced Instagram Direct, a feature that lets users interact through private messaging. Users who follow each other can send private messages with photos and videos, in contrast to the public-only requirement that was previously in place. When users receive a private message from someone they don’t follow, the message is marked as pending and the user must accept to see it. Users can send a photo to a maximum of 15 people.[187][188][189] The feature received a major update in September 2015, adding conversation threading and making it possible for users to share locations, hashtag pages, and profiles through private messages directly from the news feed. Additionally, users can now reply to private messages with text, emoji or by clicking on a heart icon. A camera inside Direct lets users take a photo and send it to the recipient without leaving the conversation.[190][191][192] A new update in November 2016 let users make their private messages “disappear” after being viewed by the recipient, with the sender receiving a notification if the recipient takes a screenshot.[193][194]

In April 2017, Instagram redesigned Direct to combine all private messages, both permanent and ephemeral, into the same message threads.[195][196][197] In May, Instagram made it possible to send website links in messages, and also added support for sending photos in their original portrait or landscape orientation without cropping.[198][199]

In April 2020, Direct became accessible from the Instagram website, allowing users to send direct messages from a web version using WebSocket technology.[200]

In August 2020, Facebook started merging Instagram Direct into Facebook Messenger. After the update (which is rolled out to a segment of the user base) the Instagram Direct icon transforms into Facebook Messenger icon.[201]

In March 2021, a feature was added that prevents adults from messaging users under 18 who do not follow them as part of a series of new child safety policies.

Instagram Stories

In August 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to take photos, add effects and layers, and add them to their Instagram story. Images uploaded to a user’s story expire after 24 hours. The media noted the feature’s similarities to Snapchat.[202][203] In response to criticism that it copied functionality from Snapchat, CEO Kevin Systrom told Recode that “Day One: Instagram was a combination of Hipstamatic, Twitter [and] some stuff from Facebook like the ‘Like’ button. You can trace the roots of every feature anyone has in their app, somewhere in the history of technology”. Although Systrom acknowledged the criticism as “fair”, Recode wrote that “he likened the two social apps’ common features to the auto industry: Multiple car companies can coexist, with enough differences among them that they serve different consumer audiences”. Systrom further stated that “When we adopted [Stories], we decided that one of the really annoying things about the format is that it just kept going and you couldn’t pause it to look at something, you couldn’t rewind. We did all that, we implemented that.” He also told the publication that Snapchat “didn’t have filters, originally. They adopted filters because Instagram had filters and a lot of others were trying to adopt filters as well.”[204][205]

In November, Instagram added live video functionality to Instagram Stories, allowing users to broadcast themselves live, with the video disappearing immediately after ending.[206][160]

In January 2017, Instagram launched skippable ads, where five-second photo and 15-second video ads appear in-between different stories.[207][208][209]

In April 2017, Instagram Stories incorporated augmented reality stickers, a “clone” of Snapchat’s functionality.[210][211][209]

In May 2017, Instagram expanded the augmented reality sticker feature to support face filters, letting users add specific visual features onto their faces.[212][213]

Later in May, TechCrunch reported about tests of a Location Stories feature in Instagram Stories, where public Stories content at a certain location are compiled and displayed on a business, landmark or place’s Instagram page.[214] A few days later, Instagram announced “Story Search”, in which users can search for geographic locations or hashtags and the app displays relevant public Stories content featuring the search term.[161][215]

In June 2017, Instagram revised its live-video functionality to allow users to add their live broadcast to their story for availability in the next 24 hours, or discard the broadcast immediately.[216] In July, Instagram started allowing users to respond to Stories content by sending photos and videos, complete with Instagram effects such as filters, stickers, and hashtags.[217][218]

Stories were made available for viewing on Instagram’s mobile and desktop websites in late August 2017.[219][220]

On December 5, 2017, Instagram introduced “Story Highlights”,[221] also known as “Permanent Stories”, which are similar to Instagram Stories, but don’t expire. They appear as circles below the profile picture and biography and are accessible from the desktop website as well.

In June 2018, the daily active story users of Instagram had reached 400 million users, and monthly active users had reached 1 billion active users.[222]

Emily White joined Instagram as Director of Business Operations in April 2013.[223][224] She stated in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September 2013 that the company should be ready to begin selling advertising by September 2014 as a way to generate business from a popular entity that had not yet created profit for its parent company.[225] White left Instagram in December 2013 to join Snapchat.[226][227] In August 2014, James Quarles became Instagram’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development, tasked with overseeing advertisement, sales efforts, and developing new “monetization products”, according to a spokesperson.[228]

In October 2013, Instagram announced that video and image ads would soon appear in feeds for users in the United States,[229][230] with the first image advertisements displaying on November 1, 2013.[231][232] Video ads followed nearly a year later on October 30, 2014.[233][234] In June 2014, Instagram announced the rollout of ads in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia,[235] with ads starting to roll out that autumn.[236]

In March 2015, Instagram announced it would implement “carousel ads,” allowing advertisers to display multiple images with options for linking to additional content.[237][238] The company launched carousel image ads in October 2015,[239][240] and video carousel ads in March 2016.[241]

In February 2016, Instagram announced that it had 200,000 advertisers on the platform.[242] This number increased to 500,000 by September 2016,[243] and 1 million in March 2017.[244][245]

In May 2016, Instagram launched new tools for business accounts, including business profiles, analytics and the ability to promote posts as ads. To access the tools, businesses had to link a corresponding Facebook page.[246] The new analytics page, known as Instagram Insights, allowed business accounts to view top posts, reach, impressions, engagement and demographic data.[246] Insights rolled out first in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and expanded to the rest of the world later in 2016.[247][246][248]

In November 2018, Instagram added the ability for business accounts to add product links directing users to a purchase page or to save them to a “shopping list.”[249] In April 2019, Instagram added the option to “Checkout on Instagram,” which allows merchants to sell products directly through the Instagram app.[250]

In March 2020, via a blog post, Instagram announced that they are making major moderation changes in order to decrease the flow of disinformation, hoaxes and fake news regarding COVID-19 on its platform, “We’ll remove COVID-19 accounts from account recommendations, and we are working to remove some COVID-19 related content from Explore unless posted by a credible health organization. We will also start to downrank content in feed and Stories that has been rated false by third-party fact-checkers.”[251]

In June 2021, Instagram launched a native affiliate marketing tool creators can use to earn commissions based on sales. Commission-enabled posts are labeled “Eligible for Commission” on the user side to identify them as affiliate posts. Launch partners included Sephora, MAC, and Kopari.[252]

Stand-alone apps

Instagram has developed and released three stand-alone apps with specialized functionality. In July 2014, it released Bolt, a messaging app where users click on a friend’s profile photo to quickly send an image, with the content disappearing after being seen.[253][254] It was followed by the release of Hyperlapse in August, an iOS-exclusive app that uses “clever algorithm processing” to create tracking shots and fast time-lapse videos.[255][256] Microsoft launched a Hyperlapse app for Android and Windows in May 2015, but there has been no official Hyperlapse app from Instagram for either of these platforms to date.[257] In October 2015, it released Boomerang, a video app that combines photos into short, one-second videos that play back-and-forth in a loop.[258][259]

Third-party services

The popularity of Instagram has led to a variety of third-party services designed to integrate with it, including services for creating content to post on the service and generating content from Instagram photos (including physical print-outs), analytics, and alternative clients for platforms with insufficient or no official support from Instagram (such as in the past, iPads).[260][261]

In November 2015, Instagram announced that effective June 1, 2016, it would end “feed” API access to its platform in order to “maintain control for the community and provide a clear roadmap for developers” and “set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences on the platform”, including those oriented towards content creation, publishers, and advertisers. Additionally, third-party clients have been prohibited from using the text strings “insta” or “gram” in their name.[262] It was reported that these changes were primarily intended to discourage third-party clients replicating the entire Instagram experience (due to increasing monetization of the service), and security reasons (such as preventing abuse by automated click farms, and the hijacking of accounts). In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Instagram began to impose further restrictions on its API in 2018.[261][263][264]

For unlimited browsing of public Instagram profiles without having to create an account, as well as for anonymous browsing of someone else’s Stories, has to use the Instagram profiles viewer.[265] Stories are more authentic than typical photos posted as posts because users know that in 24 hours their Stories will disappear if they don’t add them as highlighted[266] (however users can check who saw their Story for 48 hours after it was published[267]). For this reason, they are very valuable for market research.[268]

Fact checking

On December 16, 2019, Facebook announced it would expand its fact checking programs towards Instagram,[269] by using third-party fact-checkers organizations false information is able to be identified, reviewed and labeled as false information. Content when rated as false or partly false is removed from the explore page and hashtag pages, additionally content rated as false or partly false are labeled as such. With the addition of Facebook fact-checking program came the use of image matching technology to find further instances of misinformation. If a piece of content is labeled false or partly false on Facebook or Instagram then duplicates of such content will also be labeled as false.[270]

Algorithm and design changes

In April 2016, Instagram began rolling out a change to the order of photos visible in a user’s timeline, shifting from a strictly chronological order to one determined by an algorithm.[271] Instagram said the algorithm was designed so that users would see more of the photos by users that they liked,[272] but there was significant negative feedback, with many users asking their followers to turn on post notifications in order to make sure they see updates.[273][274][275] The company wrote a tweet to users upset at the prospect of the change, but did not back down,[276] nor provide a way to change it back, which they re-affirmed in 2020.[277][278] However, in December 2021, Adam Mosseri, in a Senate hearing on child safety issues, stated that the company is developing a version of the feed that would show user posts in chronological order.[279] He later clarified the company would introduce two modes: a classic chronological feed and a version of it that would let users pick “favorite” users whose posts would be shown at the top in chronological order while other posts would be mixed in below.[280]

Since 2017, Instagram has employed the ability to reduce the prominence of accounts (“shadowbanning”) it believes may be generating non-genuine engagement and spam (including excessive use of unneeded hashtags), preventing posts from appearing in search results and in the app’s Explore section. In a now-deleted Facebook post, Instagram wrote that “When developing content, we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags”.[281][282] Instagram has since been accused of extending the practice to censor posts under vague and inconsistent circumstances, particularly in regards to sexually suggestive material.[283]

Instagram caused the userbase to fall into outrage with the December 2018 update.[284][285][286][287][288][excessive citations] They found an attempt to alter the flow of the feed from the traditional vertical scroll to emulate and piggy-back the popularity of their Instagram Stories with a horizontal scroll, by swiping left.[289] Various backtracking statements were released explaining it as a bug, or as a test release that had been accidentally deployed to too large an audience.[287][286]

In November 2020, Instagram replaced the activity feed tab with a new “Shop” tab, moving the activity feed to the top. The “new post” button was also relocated to the top and replaced with a Reels tab[290] The company states that “the Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love” and the Reels tab “makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you.”[291] However, users have not responded well to the change, taking their complaints to Twitter and Reddit, and The New York Times has shunned Reels in particular, saying “Not only does Reels fail in every way as a TikTok clone, but it’s confusing, frustrating and impossible to navigate”.[292]

Also in 2020, Instagram rolled out a feature titled “suggested posts”, which adds posts from accounts Instagram thinks a user would like to such user’s feed.[293] The feature was met with controversy from both Reddit users[294] from The Verge, which reported that suggested posts would keep users glued to their feed, give Instagram more advertising space, and ultimately harm the mental health of users, while Instagram executive Julian Gutman rebutted, stating the feature was not intended to keep users glued to their screens.[295] Suggested posts received more controversy after Fast Company stated that the feature would be impossible to turn off.[296]

On June 23, 2021, Instagram announced a test change to the “suggested posts” feature. The company will put suggested posts ahead of posts from people who the user is following in the Instagram feed, citing positive reception as the reason for this change.[297

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *