Okay, so wtf is the new Instagram update and why does everyone hate it?
Almost 150,000 people have signed a petition to ‘make Instagram Instagram again’
Instagram has been on a path from its origins in 2010 as a photo sharing platform towards becoming a video-focused app in 2022 – however, its latest update might be a step too far as its received widespread backlash from users.
The new update which features photos and videos in a new TikTok style format that takes up your entire screen and forces you to swipe between individual posts has been slowly rolled out to users since the beginning of May.
However, as more users receive the latest update, opposition against the new update is growing. A post accusing Instagram of “trying to be TikTok”, titled “Make Instagram Instagram again”, has had over 1.6 million likes since it was posted four days ago. It’s also been re-shared by both Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian.
An accompanying petition also created four days ago now has almost 150,000 signatures.
So what actually is the new Instagram update?
On 3rd May, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri posted a video announcing the app was moving “to a place where video is a bigger part of the home experience, where content is more immersive – it takes up more of the screen”.
What that means in reality is a new full-screen feed where posts appear in a larger 9:16 ratio, the same as you see on TikTok.
Like TikTok, you now have to do small scrolls between each post, rather than continuously down your whole feed and the posts you do see are more likely to be Reels and from accounts you don’t necessarily follow.
Adam Mosseri describes this as seeing more “recommendations” in your feed of “things we think you might love but you might not have heard of yet”.
Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced in February 2022, Reels is the company’s “fastest growing content format” and it’s clear from the latest update Instagram is pushing its Reels format, whether users like it or not.
All videos will now appear in a Reels format on Instagram as the app tries to fight against its main competitor, TikTok which surpassed a billion users last September and grew at twice the rate Instagram did last year.
Why do people hate the Instagram update?
The new update has been accused of turning Instagram into a clone of TikTok. Almost 150,000 people have signed a petition created by Tati Bruening which calls on Instagram to return to its roots.
Alongside asking for a return of chronological timelines, the petition calls for the algorithm to prioritises photos so it doesn’t become another version of TikTok.
“We have TikTok for a reason and let’s face it, the only Reels uploaded are recycled TikToks and content that the world has already seen. What’s innovative and unique about old stale content?”, the petition argues.
The update isn’t just angering everyday users. Influencers have waded into the debate as they fear losing engagement to the new algorithm that appears to increasingly promote content from account users don’t follow.
Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner have both shared a post by @illumitati on their story of a simple black and white graphic that reads: “Make Instagram Instagram again. (Stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends). Sincerely everyone.”
Will Instagram listen to the criticism?
Instagram has consistently updated the direction of the app to stay on top of trends and make sure they aren’t overtaken by competitors. In 2013, Instagram first introduced videos to the app as they competed against Vine. In 2016, Instagram launched Stories following the success of Snapchat Stories.
The new direction taken by the app in 2022 to promote a full-size feed and push Reels appears to be the next step the app is taking to fight off its latest competition – TikTok.
It’s important not to underestimate the power of Kylie Jenner however. Her 360 million followers makes her the second most followed person on Instagram and her clear disapproval of Instagram’s changes can have ripple effects. In 2018, after a similarly unpopular Snapchat update, she tweeted to announce she no longer used the app.
Within a day, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, lost approximately $1.3 billion in its share price value.
Less than a day after Kylie Jenner’s story, Adam Mosseri has been quick to respond and ease growing anger and confusion about the new update.
He said: “There’s a lot going on on Instagram right now and we are experimenting with a number of different changes to the app.
“If you are seeing a new full-screen version of a feed or you are hearing about it, it’s a test. It’s a test to a few percentage of people out there and the idea is that a more full-screen experience not only for videos but for photos might be more fun and engaging experience.
“But I also want to be clear, it’s not yet good. And we’re going to have to get it to a good place if we’re going to ship it to the rest of the Instagram community.
“The second thing I’m hearing a lot of concerns about right now are photos and how we are shifting to videos. I want to be clear, we are going to continue to support photos. It’s part of our heritage. I love photos. I know a lot of you out there love photos.
“That said, I need to be honest, I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”