The adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” isn’t a common reason for nothing, but it seems Meta didn’t get the memo regarding Instagram.
While some major changes to the company’s media-sharing app have been well received in the past month, others have left users scratching their heads in confusion.
A recent widespread trial found that the platform is moving away from its roots and favoring vertical video content over traditional square posts.
In addition, the platform’s boss announced it would implement AMBER Alerts — a feature used to alert the public to missing children — to users in 25 countries, including Australia.
TND looks at why Instagram’s proposed changes have caused frustration among users and how the AMBER Alerts will be integrated into the platform.
Instagram’s reinvented feed format was met with icy reception on social media, with users chosen for the trial expressing their disappointment online.
Instagram announced late last month that it was trying a “visual refresh” with a select group of users. Its reinvented features seemingly borrowed elements from the TikTok video-sharing app.
In what Instagram boss Adam Mosseri describes as a “new, immersive viewing experience,” media from posts is seen to occupy more of each user’s screen.
Captions and the ‘action buttons’ (like, comment, and share) are superimposed on the media.
And when viewing square posts, the edges around the image are filled in by a blurred background.
Instagram users could once only post square photos, but the app has evolved in recent years to allow for different post sizes, orientations, and even video content.
And with the introduction of Reels in 2020 (short vertical videos in short form), it seems that Instagram has evolved into a video-sharing app.
It’s a move that may be motivated by the growing presence of TikTok, which has been the most downloaded mobile app for two years in a row.
Before and after: Instagram is testing a new feed format for a select group of users.
But while the transformation may make money, it seems frustrating for the users stuck with the new format.
One frustrated user called it “the death of photography on the platform”, and another said it was “so awful I want to leave Instagram”.
Tweet from @NinaBadur
It’s not the first time Instagram has borrowed ideas and concepts from another platform.
Instagram was the first platform to borrow Snapchat’s “Stories” concept not-so-subtly in 2016.
The change seemed to leave Snapchat in the dust, as the app observed a gradual decline in daily active users while Instagram’s continued to skyrocket.
Users will have to wait and see if their online furor is enough to stop Meta and Instagram from rolling out the new format to the rest of its users.
Tweet from @hisakawagi
The TikTok agreements don’t stop there.
Instagram has also announced that it is extending the duration of the reels to 90 seconds, as well as giving users the ability to “pin” posts to their feeds.
Additionally, Instagram is currently testing a new change to the Stories mechanics.
Users can still post up to 100 stories to their account at one time, but viewers with the update will see three of their stories while browsing and be told to press “Show All” if they want to continue watching.
Tweet from @mosseri
Meta recently confirmed extending its Facebook AMBER Alert (“America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response”) feature to Instagram users in 25 countries.
With over 38,000 missing persons reports received by Australian police each year, the feature could prove a useful resource.
The warnings were first implemented in the United States and have since been distributed worldwide.
Queensland became the first Australian state to implement a version of AMBER Alerts in May 2005, shortly after they were introduced in the US.
Other states joined when Facebook launched its AMBER Alert program in 2017 in partnership with the Australian Federal Police.
Through Facebook’s system, users who scroll through their timelines will receive an alert with an image and details of the missing child – which they can use to contact emergency services or share with their networks.
Mosseri told his followers that his AMBER Alerts would be displayed similarly.
“As you scroll through your feed and there’s an AMBER Alert near you, you’ll see that in your feed,” he said.
“One of the reasons we find this compelling is that we can include an image, which you can’t include in an AMBER Alert displayed as text.”
Instagram’s example of what an AMBER Alert would look like in your feed.