Instagram kills changes and will phase out full-screen videos and photos after celebrities complain

Instagram kills changes and will phase out full-screen videos and photos after celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner slammed the app for ‘trying to be like TikTok’

  • Instagram will phase out its full-screen version of the app after growing criticism
  • The app had been focusing more on video in an apparent effort to compete with TikTok, but was met with harsh criticism from users, including celebs
  • Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner both shared a petition to their Instagram story this week that read ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again’  
  • CEO Adam Mosseri, 39, has been criticized for changes made to Instagram, which see the platform now promoting videos, called Reels 
  • He defended the decision, insisting it was the future, but says the product will be rolled back for now until technology improves for a smoother rollout
  • Instagram will continue to push algorithmically recommended videos 

Instagram is rolling back a recently released version of its app that features full-screen videos after being met with harsh criticism from influencers and celebrities. 

The social media platform has been testing full-screen videos and photos, but numerous Instagram users, including famous sisters Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, complained the app was copying rival TikTok and shared a petition to ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again.’ 

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri told Casey Newton’s Platformer on Thursday that the some of the changes will be phased out, but while the number of algorithmically recommended videos people see will be reduced, he says the number will rise again when the company feels the technology has improved. 

‘I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,’ Mosseri said. 

‘But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.’

Instagram has been testing full-screen videos and photos, but numerous users, including famous influencers and celebs complained the app was copying rival TikTok

Instagram has been testing full-screen videos and photos, but numerous users, including famous influencers and celebs complained the app was copying rival TikTok

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner led the movement to ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again.’ The pair voiced distaste for the app’s new redesign that is similar to TikTok

The head of Instagram has previously admitted that changes to the app were ‘not yet good’ after Kim Kardashian joined the chorus of criticism about alterations to the photo-sharing site over claims it is obsessed with taking on TikTok.

Instagram is increasingly promoting its Reels function – a short-video feature that seems to have taken a page from TikTok’s playbook.

On Tuesday, Mosseri insisted that the changes were necessary and here to stay – while acknowledging there had been teething problems.

But by Thursday, the Instagram boss told Platformer that the company was temporarily scaling back the use of its recommendation algorithm, which places content in users’ feeds from accounts they don’t already follow.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said Thursday that the company is temporarily scaling back the use of its recommendation algorithm, which places content in users' feeds from accounts they don't already follow

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said Thursday that the company is temporarily scaling back the use of its recommendation algorithm, which places content in users’ feeds from accounts they don’t already follow

‘When you discover something in your feed that you didn’t follow before, there should be a high bar — it should just be great,’ Mosseri told Platformer. 

‘You should be delighted to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feeds that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again.’  

Mosseri has said that the app will continue to support photos, but said Thursday that Reels were likely the future of Instagram’s feed. He claimed that ‘personal sharing’ of photos was happening more in stories and in direct messages than in the feed.

‘Feed could be, and to some degree is, a place to discover things to talk about with your friends. With Reels, we’re seeing this happen a lot,’ he said. ‘Reels are inspiring a lot of conversations — people just send funny videos to their friends that they’ve discovered in feed.’

Kim Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner, seen in 2020, led criticism of Instagram's changes

Kim Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner, seen in 2020, led criticism of Instagram’s changes

Mosseri said this shift is occurring in response to user behavior and added that people whose screens were altered were part of a test group, ahead of a wider rollout.

He said they believed a more full-screen experience — for both photos and videos — ‘might be a more fun and engaging experience’.

But users have said they’re sick of having random strangers’ posts foisted on them, and that they only want to see their contacts.

Critics have bombarded Instagram executives with pleas to stop the push for video, and return Instagram to its simple picture origins.

On Monday, Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner – who is the most-followed woman on Instagram – begged Adam Mosseri to rethink the video plan.

‘Make Instagram Instagram again,’ they both posted.

‘Stop trying to be TikTok, I just want to see cute photos of my friends.’

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, launched Reels in August 2020 in response to the growing dominance TikTok had in the video sharing market. It now works across Instagram and Facebook.

Mosseri admitted the changes to the app were not perfect yet, but said they were essential

Mosseri admitted the changes to the app were not perfect yet, but said they were essential

Mosseri is pictured with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. Meta now owns Instagram

Mosseri is pictured with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. Meta now owns Instagram

On Wednesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors on the company’s second-quarter earnings call that the company planned to more than double the amount of recommended content in Facebook and Instagram feeds by the end of next year, Insider reported. 

A little more than 15 percent of content in Instagram users’ feeds is recommended content, Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg also said in the call that viewing Reels accounted for about 20 percent of the time people spend on Instagram. 

HOW HAVE FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM COPIED SNAPCHAT OVER THE YEARS?

March 2016 – Filters

One of the first signs Facebook was copying Snapchat was in March 2016 when it bought MSQRD, an app that overlays silly live filters to your selfies.

The app lets users apply filters to their faces – similar to Snapchat ‘Lens’ filters.

Pictured is one of Snapchat's most popular Lenses

Facebook's face filters are very similar to Snapchat's

One of the first signs Facebook was copying Snapchat was in March 2016 when it bought MSQRD, an app that overlays silly live filters to your selfies. The app lets users apply filters to their faces (pictured right) – similar to Snapchat ‘Lens’ filters (pictured left)

April 2016 – QR codes 

In April of last year, Facebook added QR codes to profiles in Messenger. 

Snapchat uses QR codes to allow people to add other users without having to search.

December 2016 – Location-based filters and in-app camera

Facebook introduced custom location-based camera filters that overlay pictures and videos – similar to Snapchat’s ‘geo-filters’.

Users build ‘frames’ on any design platform, submit them to Facebook and then friends nearby will have access to the creations.

In the same month, a ‘Messenger Camera’ was designed to make it quicker to capture and share photos and videos without having to dip out of a conversations – a feature that already existed on Snapchat.

Snapchat's geo-filter is pictured

Pictured is Facebook's location-based filter option

In December, Facebook introduced custom location-based camera filters (pictured right) that overlay pictures and videos – similar to Snapchat’s ‘geo-filters’ (pictured left)

March 2017 – Stories

In March, Facebook introduced Facebook Stories along with two other new Snapchat-like features – Facebook Camera and Direct.

Facebook Stories highlights decorative content in a horizontal layout over News Feed that disappears in 24 hours – just like Snapchat Stories.

Pictured is Snapchat's Stories feature

Facebook added Stories in March

Facebook Stories (pictured right) highlights decorative content in a horizontal layout over News Feed that disappears in 24 hours – just like Snapchat Stories (pictured left)

The section in the app called ‘Direct’ appears to be very similar to Snapchat’s feed for one-to-one group messaging.

The update encourages users to use Facebook’s camera feature and also lets them put friends’ stories at the top of their News Feed.

In the same month it also introduced ‘Messenger Day’, which lets user share photos and videos with illustrated filters and stickers that vanish in 24 hours – just like Snapchat Stories.

November 2017 – Streaks

In November, Facebook copied Snapchat by testing a new feature that encourages friends to send messages back and forth for consecutive days.

Like ‘Snapstreaks’ on Snapchat, Facebook Messenger ‘Streaks’ have emoji next to the name of anyone who users are regularly messaging.

According to Facebook, this will encourage users to ‘keep your streak going’.  

In March, Facebook introduced 'Messenger Day', which lets user share photos and videos with illustrated filters and stickers that vanish in 24 hours - just like Snapchat Stories

In March, Facebook introduced ‘Messenger Day’, which lets user share photos and videos with illustrated filters and stickers that vanish in 24 hours – just like Snapchat Stories

January 2018 – Screenshots

In January, Instagram, the Facebook-owned app, began testing a feature that lets your followers know if you’ve taken a sneaky screenshot of their Story.

The Snapchat-inspired feature is expected to launch on the picture-sharing platform soon and is currently being trialled in Japan.

May 2018 – Bitmoji

As with Filters, Snaps, and Stories, Facebook revealed it is duplicating the Bitmoji feature used on Snapchat.

Within the code of Facebook’s Android app, developers have found an unreleased functionality that lets users ‘build personalized, illustrated versions of themselves for use as stickers in Messenger and comments.’ 

November 2021 – Rage Shake

Instagram copied Snapchat with the launch of a feature called ‘Rage Shake’. 

Users just need to shake their phone with the Instagram app open and a little pop-up appears that lets them report an annoying technical issue.  

It’s very similar to Snapchat’s ‘Shake to Report’, which already lets users shake their smartphone to report a bug. 

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