Tag Archives: Instagram

Instagram will Test Hiding “Likes” in the US



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 Activity Tab



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 Introduces Threads



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.


Trump Administration Launches Tool to Report Censorship



The Trump Administration has launched a web survey for people to use if they feel they have been wrongly censored on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. The survey was created with the online form-building tool Typeform. The first page of the survey says:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

The Guardian reported that the survey asks users to provide their names, contact information, social media accounts, and screenshots of interactions with social media platforms. Only US citizens and permanent residents are asked to participate. The Guardian wonders what the Trump administration will do – and what it won’t do – with the names and contact information of the people who fill out the survey.

Typeform tweeted: “We didn’t get any further than this @WhiteHouse”. The tweet included a screenshot of the question “Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?” Typeform checked “no”. The Guardian reported that Typeform is based in Barcelona.

As always, it is a good idea to read a survey’s user agreement before you post any of your information into it. Ars Technica reported that the user agreement gives the Trump Administration a broad license to use the information that users post into the survey, including publishing it.

More specifically, the user agreement “grants the U.S. Government a license to use, edit, display, publish, broadcast, transmit, post, or otherwise distribute all or part of the Content (including edited, composite, or derivative works made therefrom)”.

“You waive any right to inspect or approve of any Content edited, composite or derivative works made from Content (including those which may contain your information) before use. You are not entitled to any prior notice before the U.S. Government uses Content or Information. You are not entitled to any compensation for Content.”

“You understand that Content may not be altered or deleted by you after submission, You further understand that your submission may be subject to the Federal Records Act and/or the Presidential Records Act and may be subject to public release according to those statutes.”

The Verge reported that near the end of the survey, it invites users to opt into email newsletters from President Trump “so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.”

Another part of the survey points users toward the user agreement, and states: “you understand this form is for information gathering only.” I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who presume that filling out the survey will instantly make their suspended or banned accounts accessible once again. In addition, some people may not realize they opted-in to a newsletter.


Facebook Banned “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”



Several websites have reported that Facebook has banned a group of people who have broken the company’s Community Standards. More specifically, those recently banned have broken the “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” portion of Facebook’s and Instagram’s Community Standards.

The “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy states: “In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence, from having a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following: terrorist activity, organized hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking, organized violence or criminal activity.

The policy also says: “We also remove content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities.”

Buzzfeed News got a statement from a Facebook spokesperson who said: “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”

BuzzFeed News reported that the ban will affect both Facebook and Instagram.

Here is a list of those who have been banned: Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones (and his Infowars site), Laura Loomer, Louis Farrakhan, Paul Joseph Watson, and Paul Nehlen. Some of the people who were banned from Facebook and Instagram have been previously banned from other platforms. I’ll leave you to read the BuzzFeed News article if you would like more details.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Facebook (and Instagram) are not part of Congress. They are private companies.


Elizabeth Warren Wants to Break Up Tech Industry Giants



Senator Elizabeth Warren said that if she is elected president in 2020, her administration will break up the giants of the tech industry. This was announced at SXSW in Austin, and in a detailed post on Medium. In that post, Senator Warren mentioned Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

Senator Warren’s plan would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year in revenue as a “platform utility”, and will prohibit those companies from using those platforms to selling their own products.

The Verge interviewed Senator Warren. Her plan includes Apple – which was not mentioned in the Medium post. Senator Warren wants to break Apple apart from their App Store. As far as I can tell, the plan also calls for Google to split from Google Play. Personally, I’d like to see more specific information from Senator Warren about how that change will affect how apps are distributed.

In part of the interview, Senator Warren said:

The problem is that’s not competition. That’s just using market dominance, not because they had a better product or because they were somehow more customer-friendly or in a better place. It’s just using market dominance. So, my principle is exactly the same: what was applied to the railroad companies more than a hundred years ago, we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way.

In short, the plan would prevent Amazon from selling Amazon Basics products on the Amazon retail store. It would stop Google from promoting its own products in Google Search. And, it would require Facebook to split apart from Instagram and Whatsapp. It is a strong push for antitrust enforcement of an industry that has been untouched by those laws.

Personally, I would like to see Facebook and Instagram split apart. I’m not a fan of Facebook (and stopped using it years ago). Instagram brings me joy, but I am conflicted about continuing to use it because it belongs to Facebook. I’d also like to see YouTube separated from Google.


Instagram Temporarily Launched Horizontal Scrolling



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.