Instagram update binned after backlash

Posted on January 4, 2019


Over the festive period, popular photo sharing platform Instagram rolled out a new major update that would have a huge impact on the way users interact with the app. The update, however, was not well received by users and the outcry led to Instagram retracting it altogether and issuing an apology.

The big change essentially switched the traditional news feed for a Tinder-like swiping/tapping theme. Instagram has used a timeline-like feed since its inception in 2010, which had users scrolling through a reel of pictures and video content posted by friends and accounts of interest. This has been a traditional way in which most social media sites present content to their users. However, Instagram changed this so that users tap/swipe their way through new posts instead.

Users are presented with a newly posted image or video, and instead of scrolling up and down, they were required to tap left and right to see more pictures and move advance instead. They were also presented with a progress bar, to show them how far they were into the newsfeed. Tapping the middle of the image would generate a like, similar to the usual double tap that users were accustomed to.

The switch to horizontal scrolling was first anticipated back in October but was not expected to be rolled out to a huge number of users. Back then, Instagram wouldn’t reveal its plans and intentions, stating that the company is always testing new ways to improve users’ experience on the platform.

The unexpected switch in December was therefore met with hugely negative reviews and a barrage of criticism from its users. Even high-profile users were not impressed with the change, with rapper Skepta expressing his views on Twitter:

The upset over the update quickly became one of the top trending topics on Twitter in the UK and within an hour of rolling out the update, Instagram reversed its actions and made the switch back to the traditional news feed style.

In a response to the criticism, Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, issued a statement apologising for what had happened, explaining that the rollout had been done by accident and was intended to be a small test aimed at a limited number of users.

The tap-to-advance style of scrolling through the site is supposed to closely mimic the style adopted by the Stories section of the site, which has proved to be popular with users, but it seems evident from the backlash that users are not ready or willing to accept a similar change to the main news feed.

Will Instagram reconsider its plans to make this switch, or will we be seeing it again in the future?

Operations Manager at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Operations Manager.
Alan Littler

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