Instagram removes ‘Following’ feature that allowed people to see other people’s likes and comments amid claims it was making users paranoid and depressed

  • The ‘Following’ feature let users monitor their friends’ activity on Instagram 
  • Some users reported the feature made them feel paranoid and self-conscious
  • The feature was first introduced in 2011 

Instagram has confirmed it will remove the ‘Following’ tab from the app.

The feature allowed users to keep track of photos and videos everyone in their follow list was liking or commenting on.

The feature was launched in 2011, as a subcategory under the ‘Like’ menu, the heart-shaped icon at the bottom of screen when you open the app.

Instagram's 'Following' feature wasn't easy to find, but it could be a major source of anxiety for users.

Instagram’s ‘Following’ feature wasn’t easy to find, but it could be a major source of anxiety for users.

Many users didn’t even know the feature existed, but for those who did it could sometimes be a depressing affirmation that one’s friends were busy liking everyone else’s posts.

For others, it was a source of paranoia, driving people to be overly self-conscious about how their Instagram use might be interpreted.

According to Instagram’s head of product Vishal Shah, ‘simplicity’ was the determining factor.

‘People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,’ he told Buzzfeed.

Instagram's head of product, Vishal Shah, gave some insight about the decision to remove the 'Following' feature over Twitter today.

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Instagram’s head of product, Vishal Shah, gave some insight about the decision to remove the ‘Following’ feature over Twitter today.

The 'Following' wasn't an obvious part of Instagram's interface, but users who learned where to find it sometimes found could sometimes become compulsive about checking the feature.

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The ‘Following’ wasn’t an obvious part of Instagram’s interface, but users who learned where to find it sometimes found could sometimes become compulsive about checking the feature.

‘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.’

NEW INSTAGRAM FEATURES FOR 2019

‘Create’ Mode, a redesigned camera interface to make filters and features easier to find

Donation sticker, allowing users to send money to charities in the app 

Creator profiles with more in-depth user analytics

Button to buy tagged items directly through the app

‘Away’ mode that allows users to stop receiving notifications for a period of time 

The shift happens at a time when other social media networks have begun hiding some data about engagement from its users.

In Australia, Facebook has been testing a version of its services that hide the number of likes other people’s posts get on the service.

‘We don’t want Facebook to feel like a competition,’ the company said in a statement.

Instagram has been testing a similar update that would allow only the original poster to see how many likes an image had gotten.

Another feature being tested will introduce a ‘nudge’  feature that pops up if a person is about to post a comment the app determines could be hurtful.  

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