Instagram’s killing the “Following” tab in its app, meaning you’ll no longer be able to track the every online move of the people you follow. It’s almost as though Instagram recognized the feature was only used by people to creep on each other.
Buzzfeed today reported the company was killing off the feature, trimming the Activity page so that it only shows actions as they relate to you. The feature’s been in testing for a few weeks now, but now it’ll roll out to everyone. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, this was that one tab on the same page where the likes on your pics were collected, the one that showed you what the people you followed were liking and commenting on.
As nice as it is to think Instagram cut the Following because they recognized that it was kinda TMI and had gotten one too many people in trouble, the reality is far more prosaic. Vishal Shah, IG’s head of product, told Buzzfeed the feature wasn’t much used, and its existence was so easy to forget it took users by surprise: “People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing. 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.”
Unless you’re spying on someone, I struggle to see what use case supports seeing what all your friends are liking. It’s annoying enough when my Twitter feed gets taken over by tweets from people I’m not following just because someone I am following liked them. No offense to the corporate brands I follow, but I don’t think I could possibly care less to see what new influencer-of-the-moment they might be following or what congratulatory comments on their own posts they’re liking.
Last week, Instagram also introduced the Restrict feature, which allows users to put someone who follows them into a kind of echo chamber. When you restrict someone, their comments on your pictures will only be available to them. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, told NPR that teenagers, a large part of Instagram’s core demographic, often demurred from outright blocking bullies. As users can tell when they’re blocked, it might cause an offline confrontation with the bully in question. With Restrict, the bully won’t perceive a change, but the bullied user and others won’t have to look at or respond to their comments.
All in all, it appears Instagram’s trying to redirect users from spending too much time creeping on and bothering each other and more time checking out new stuff. That’s good both for users who might appreciate a little privacy and for the aforementioned corporate brands that are probably hoping to push everyone to do more shopping.
The Following tab will disappear for everyone this week.