Instagram announced an update that will require new users to provide their date of birth in order to make an Instagram account. The purpose of this update is to make Instagram safer for the youngest members of the community.
If your Facebook and Instagram are connected, Instagram will add the date of birth that is on your Facebook profile. Editing your date of birth on Facebook will also change it on Instagram. Those who don’t have Facebook accounts, or who don’t connect it to Instagram can edit their birthday directly on Instagram.
In the months ahead, Instagram will use birthday information to create tailored experiences including education about account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people. They are also going to give users more control over who can send them direct messages in Instagram.
I am in favor of making efforts to protect young people on social media. Those protections should have been there from the beginning.
My only complaint about this update is it will require new Instagram users to hand over their birthdate to both Instagram and Facebook. Think about all the important documents your birthdate is attached to. Do you trust Facebook to keep that information secure?
One of the easiest ways to respond to an Instagram post is to click “like”. It is faster and easier than commenting, and it serves as a positive response to your friend’s latest photo. Wired reported that Instagram will be hiding “like” counts in the United States.
Months after the company tested hiding “like” counts in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Italy, and Brazil, CEO Adam Mosseri announced today at WIRED25 that some US Instagram users can expect their like counts to vanish from public view. The company will begin testing next week, at first rolling out the change to a limited number of accounts.
To be clear, this does not mean that Instagram is removing the ability for users to click “like”. You will continue to be able to click “like” on whatever you want to. You will also still be able to see who clicked “like” on the photos that you post on Instagram.
The part that is changing is significant. Users who are part of this test will no longer see the “like” count on the photos posted by other users. I wonder how this will affect Instagram influencers who make their money by attracting brands to sponsor them. Will brands continue to seek out Instagram influencers if the brand cannot see how many “likes” their sponsored post received?
Overall, I think removing the number of “likes” from public view can be a good thing. There are those who will delete posts that they felt did not receive enough of likes. That might change if the person realizes that no one else can see their “like” count. Making that information private could be a relief to many Instagram users.
Instagram is removing the Following tab in the Activity Feed. It was launched in 2011. Since then, the Explore tab was created, and it became the best way to discover new content. That said, some people are going to be sad when the Following Tab disappears. Apparently, people were using it as a way to snoop on the accounts they follow. The tab shows everything a person clicked “like” on.
BuzzFeed News reported that Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, said that Following wasn’t a feature that people used frequently and that the company suspected many users didn’t know it existed. And for those that did, it was often a source of unwelcome surprises.
“People didn’t always know their activity is surfacing,” Shah said. “So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up.”
It never occurred to me to find out what other people “like” on Instagram. If you are following me, and check the Following tab, you will find so many “liked” photos of cats and kittens, books, and art. Maybe I’m boring.
Based on several articles that I’ve skimmed through today, it seems that many people use “like” to click on photos that might be considered “NSFW” (or that were close to it). Personally, I don’t care what people “like” on Instagram. That said, plenty of other people do care! The Following tab was being used by people who enjoyed finding out what the people they follow clicked “like” on. It seems the feature became a form of entertainment for some.
I think the revelations about just how much the Following tab showed may have influenced some people to go through their Instagram “likes” and remove some of the more questionable ones. Following revealed more about a person than they may have intended, and some people are going to be embarrassed by what they have let their followers know about them.
Instagram announced that Facebook is launching Threads from Instagram. I supposes this wording is intended to make it very clear that Instagram is owned by Facebook. Threads is a new “camera-first” messaging app that helps you stay connected to your close friends.
Threads is designed for Instagram users who want to be able to communicate with their closest circle of friends. The idea is for people to use Threads to post photos and videos of how they are feeling or what they are doing to a small group in a dedicated private space.
Threads is a standalone app designed with privacy, speed, and your close connections in mind. You can share photos, videos, messages, Stories, and more with your Instagram close friends list. You are in control of who can reach you on Threads, and you can customize the experience around the people who matter most.
It appears that Threads is intended to replace the Close Friends feature that was released on Instagram last year. Instead of messaging your Close Friends on Instagram, you can instead use Threads to message the people on your Instagram Close Friends list.
You can also continue to message Close Friends on Instagram. However, I think there will be a time when the company will drop that in favor of having people use Threads.
Status is another new feature. It is intended to be used to send a quick thing to your close friends. You can choose from a suggested status, which include an emoji and a two or three word description. Or, you can create your own status. Instagram says that only close friends will see it, and the feature is completely opt-in.
Instagram (and Facebook) appear to be trying to assure Instagram users that Threads is very private. Keep in mind that anything you put on either Instagram, Facebook, or Threads, can be seen by Facebook and might be among the data that the company collects.
Instagram users may have encountered an unexpected change today when trying to scroll through their feed. Instead of being able to vertically scroll through Instagram, the change temporarily switch it to a horizontal scroll.
TechCrunch reported that the change was due to a bug that mistakenly rolled out the change to the Instagram feed. Many users found the change from vertical scrolling to horizontal scrolling to be annoying.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, posted an explanation on his verified Twitter account: “Sorry about that, this was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we anticipated.” This was in response to another Twitter user who was noticed the unexpected horizontal scroll and who commented about it to Adam Mosseri.
The Verge reported: Only a few minutes after the horizontal feed went live, the old-fashioned vertical feed seems to have reappeared for most of the users who had been seeing the horizontally scrolling test.
I checked my Instagram, and it is allowing me to scroll vertically through it. The bug had been fixed before I learned that it temporarily changed the feed to a horizontal scroll.
I’m not sure why the switch away from a vertical scroll was such a big deal for so many Instagram users. Change is hard, I suppose. If anything, it is possible that the bug that launched the horizontal scrolling more widely than expected was useful. It gave Instagram plenty of user feedback to consider.
You have probably seen plenty of ads on Instagram. They show up mixed in with the content you want to see from the accounts you decided to follow. The ads are easy to identify because they are labeled “Sponsored”.
Ads are much less obvious when presented by an Instagram influencer. A viewer might not understand that what they are looking at is an ad.
Influencers who fail to make it clear that the photo or video includes an endorsement may be in violation of Federal Trade Commission rules regarding paid endorsements on social media. It is entirely possible for an influencer to unintentionally break the rules. According to the FTC:
…an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations or depictions of the name, signature, likeness, or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution.
Wired has a detailed article that looks at Instagram influencers who are paid to promote a specific product. The influencer might be paid to promote that product, or to disparage a similar product from a competing brand. Or, the influencer may be given something for free with the expectation that they will praise it on Instagram.
In essence, this type of situation functions like an unlabeled advertisement. The FTC rules require influencers to disclose that they have been endorsed to talk about the product or service they are featuring. Those who fail to do so could be investigated by the FTC.
The FTC rules govern more than how endorsements are disclosed on Instagram. It also covers social media, blogs, TV commercials, and more. It is a good idea to read over the FTC rules before you post content that contains an endorsement. Make sure you are within compliance.
Image from Pexels
Instagram has introduced Nametag. It is a customizable identification card that allows people to find your Instagram profile when it is scanned. Did Instagram make this because people were complaining that it was too difficult to share their Instagram name with others? I doubt it.
Nametag is something Instagram users can set up within the Instagram app. Nametag includes your Instagram username. You can personalize your Nametag by choosing other designs, colors, emojis, and selfies.
The idea is that this will encourage people to ask people they meet outside of the internet what their Instagram username is. Nametag would allow two people to scan each other’s Nametag’s and start following each other. Was it really so difficult to just tell people what your Instagram username is?
Personally, I don’t have a use for Nametag. My Instagram account is private because I found my Instagram photos on other people’s websites and it bothered me. I’m incredibly picky about who I will let follow me on Instagram.
Nametag sounds like a fun little gimmick that could result in more user interaction on Instagram. That’s one thing that social media companies want – to encourage users to engage with their social media site more often.
In addition, Instagram is testing something called School Communities. College and university students, as well as recent grads, can opt-in to their School Community. Doing so allows a user to add a profile that lists their university, class year, major, sports team and sorority.
Those who are in the same university can click on a directory listing all the people who have attended it. In other words, School Communities is a way for Instagram to create a database of college students.
School Communities also appears to also be designed to encourage users to interact more on Instagram. In addition, it is a sneaky way to get users to give more of their personal data to Instagram (and therefore, Facebook). Beware of the fun features that social media companies create. They may have an ulterior motive.