Instagram Temporarily Rolls Out New Functionality, Angers the Internet

Company calls it 'a bug'

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Headshot of Josh Sternberg

It was a quiet day, the last Thursday of 2018. Or so it seemed.

Then Instagram rolled out a transformational update to its app, causing the internet to collectively lose its mind. What was this change to its core product that caused the online denizens to grab their digital pitchforks? Say goodbye to the infinite scroll capability and hello to swiping hell.

Well, maybe not so fast.

In an email, Instagram said this was all a big boo-boo: “Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”

And the company, at the time, has no plans to retool the feed.

However, this update, sorry, bug, got us thinking about what would such a change do for the user, as well as the marketer. Before, a user could just scroll through ads, but with a functionality that incorporates user behavior similar to that of its Stories product, where you have to actively tap to get out of an ad, a new format that introduces another action could now get marketers thinking about a completely different measurement of success: how fast a user taps out of an ad.

Conversely, a full screen ad could teach users new behaviors of looking at ads, which can then cause the advertiser to start making better ads, which will get users to look at ads, which will get advertisers to create better ads, and the circle goes on forever.

Also, this update seems like it’s not good for left-handed people.

One other question on this kind of change: does this functionality set the stage for killing off IGTV as a stand-alone and bringing it as a normal function inside of Instagram?

Every big platform change—whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or Instagram—is always met with derision. Then people get used to it. Then they get pissed when a new rollout occurs.

We’ll just have to wait until the next accidental rollout. Though in the year that Facebook, Instagram’s parent, has had, it’s difficult to imagine that anything happens by accident.

@joshsternberg Josh Sternberg is the former media and tech editor at Adweek.
Publish date: December 27, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT