You know I didn’t want to join Instagram but I had adopted a kitten with an internet following, and the next wanted to know how the kitten was doing. For a while, I dutifully updated once a week. But then Instagram started to change.
Two big things happened in 2016. First, there were the changes in the feed. algorithmic. Well, good. Then the Snapchat impersonation: the story. It was whatever. I did not mind. After a while, I stopped posting photos in favor of posting Stories because more people were watching the Stories. More ads started popping up hiding the stories, so I stopped watching so much. And I stopped posting pictures or Stories so often.
Then came the stupid video stuff: IGTV, which I avoided as much as possible, and the TikTok impersonators, which were much harder to avoid. This is where the algorithmic feed really bit people. I saw things going around on social media about how to please the algorithm: a certain number of stories, a certain number of roles. If you didn’t do what the algorithm wanted, people just wouldn’t see your posts. But unlike influencers, who have based their business on this platform, I could just choose not to. I used Instagram less and spent more time on Reddit because I prefer text over video.
Now there’s something to make the feed even worse: “discovery”. That’s when a bunch of videos from people you don’t follow are added to your feed. That’s where we are now with Instagram. The people I’ve tried to follow — the people whose posts I most want to see — are ranked lower for videos from strangers.
Now come to the Kardashians, who have said the new Instagram is worthless. These women make money on Instagram; yes, the platform deliberately provoked them and built around influencers like the Kardashians. Unlike me, they’re actually major components of Instagram, so Adam Mosseri, the head of the platform, responded.
Sounds like an exhausted parent Mosseri agreed that Instagram’s new feed was crappy and the recommendations might be bad and then told us it wouldn’t get any better. Instagram no longer cares about photos.
According to Mosseri, Instagram users are switching to video. That may even be true! I certainly didn’t want to switch to video and so I stopped using the platform. Meanwhile, people who use Instagram to make money were forced to post more videos to stay in people’s feeds. Doesn’t seem very organic if you ask me.
It’s funny to see Instagram Facebookify because nobody wants to use Facebook either. (I quit in 2006, came around briefly to post roadside stories before we automated our social process and then stopped again.) People talk about Facebook like it’s a grind, and that’s how they talk about Instagram more and more.
The platform changes are turning people’s businesses upside down for two reasons: one, because they have to rearrange everything once again to try to please the algorithm, but two, as Instagram scares off parts of the audience. I mean, if I want to watch a TikTok, I will, you know? I literally came to Insta for the cat pictures.
But Facebook is in a difficult position. It’s renamed itself “Meta” after something that doesn’t exist yet and needs to figure out how to keep the lights on while “building the metaverse” or whatever. (What’s the metaverse’s killer app, say?) And Apple’s privacy push — “Ask app not to track” — has cost $10 billion in lost Facebook revenue.
So the changes suck, and Mosseri lets us all know that Facebook doesn’t care that the changes are worthless. It’s just trying to squeeze as much growth hacky engagement out of its legacy platforms as possible. High-quality photos — Instagram’s original value proposition — matter less than weight loss, speed (oh, sorry,”ADHD treatment“), and ketamine. Quite a way to lose weight first Michael Kors ad! It seems that Instagram is in a sense a about.
Look, I’ve quit several social media sites before. I know this feeling well. Instagram is desperate and nobody likes you when you’re desperate. The main question is where am I going. BeReal is nicer, but it loads slowly and I hate notifications. Twitter isn’t really for cat pictures. Can someone just build a simple photo app that isn’t sleazy and let me know where it is so my friends can join it? I have a lot of cat pictures that I would like people to look at.