Instagram Rolls Back Changes After Celebrity Criticism

Instagram is to temporarily roll back controversial platform changes after celebrities after celebrities Kylie Jenner and her half-sister Kim Kardashian joined in criticism of the shift.

The company had been heavily promoting Reels, full-screen videos similar to those found on rival TikTok, by modifying its algorithm to insert popular Reels into users’ feeds.

Users complained they were seeing fewer images from accounts they followed, and were isntead receiving “video after video from random pages I don’t follow”.

Instagram parent company Meta said it wanted to “take the time to make sure we get this right”.

Image credit: Illumitati/Instagram

Temporary rollback

But the company made it clear it planned to continue its shift toward full-screen videos and recommended content.

“Based on our findings and community feedback, we’re pausing the full-screen test on Instagram so we can explore other options, and we’re temporarily decreasing the number of recommendations you see in your feed so we can improve the quality of your experience,” a Meta spokesperson told Silicon UK.

“We recognise that changes to the app can be an adjustment, and while we believe that Instagram needs to evolve as the world changes, we want to take the time to make sure we get this right.”

Petition

Last week Kylie Jenner, Instagram’s most-followed user with 361 million followers, shared a post from another user that read, “Make Instagram Instagram again. (stop trying to be tiktok i just want to see cute photos of my friends.) Sincerely, everyone.”

Jenner added, “PLEASEEEEEEE” to the post. “PRETTY PLEASE,” added her half-sister, Kim Kardashian, in a later post.

Author and content creator Toni Tone wrote on Twitter that Instagram was “trying to become another TikTok”.

“If I wanted to see video after video from random pages I don’t follow, I wouldn’t be on Instagram,” Tone wrote. “Do what we need from you, and bring back the photos of our actual friends!!!”

‘Not yet good’

In response to the criticism, Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a video explaining the updates and defending the move to video. He acknowledged the changes were still in development and that some were “not yet good”.

But he added that while Instagram will “continue to support photos” he believes the platform will be more “focussed on video over time”.

The changes come as Meta faces intense pressure from growing rivals such as TikTok, which has been downloaded more than three billion times according to analytics company Sensor Tower – the first app not owned by Meta to pass this milestone.

After Meta reported its first quarterly revenue decline as a public company last week, chief executive said on a call with analysts that Instagram’s Reels were driving user growth and engagement and that the company would increase its efforts in the category over time.

‘Algorithmic discovery’

He also called attention to the shift to “algorithmic discovery” of new and suggested content over followed content, again following TikTok’s lead.

Meta launched a feature for the main Facebook app last month that will insert more videos and suggested content into users’ feeds, similar to TikTok.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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