‘Stop trying to be TikTok’: how Instagram’s makeover has alienated users

Head of social network responds after users gave redesign the thumbs-down

A woman looks at her smartphone
(Image credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The head of Instagram has defended the app after celebrities joined a wave of complaints about a redesign that made the photo-sharing platform more like its rival, TikTok.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri spoke out after Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian re-shared a post which read: “Make Instagram Instagram again.”

The infographic, originally posted by the photographer Tati Bruening, who goes by the username @illumitati, also called on Instagram to “stop trying to be TikTok”, adding: “I just want to see cute pictures of my friends. Sincerely, everyone.” The post has attracted nearly two million “likes”.

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The app’s recent changes, which include “an extremely algorithmic main feed” and “a push for the service’s TikTok-style ‘reels’ videos”, have left users “struggling to find content from friends and family, once the bread and butter of the social network”, said The Guardian.

There have also been complaints over a new full-screen vertical look, which resembles TikTok’s interface, and a heavy presence of recommended videos from users that the account holder does not follow.

‘This is a test’

In a video posted to Twitter, Mosseri said he was “hearing a lot of concerns about photos, and how we’re shifting to video” but insisted that the platform is “going to continue to support photos”.

But he added that he needed “to be honest”, admitting that “more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time”. “We’re going to have to lean in to that shift while continuing to support photos,” he said.

Commenting on complaints about the full-screen view, Mosseri explained to users that this was “a test”. “The idea is that a more full-screen experience, not only for video but for photos, might be a bit more fun and engaging experience,” he said. But, he added, “I also want to be clear, [that] it’s not yet good”.

Mosseri said the recommendations feature is meant to help users discover new content, and is one of the “most effective and important” ways to enable creators to reach more people. He said users can close or snooze recommendations.

“We’re going to need to evolve, because the world is changing quickly and we’re going to need to change with it,” he continued.

‘Serious business’

Mosseri closed the video by asking for feedback and received plenty, with one viewer demanding that he “stop making everything reels”. They added: “You’re making everyone from journalists, content creators, CEOs, and celebrities agree. It’s now an app for everything you’re advertising, not of my friends and people I think are cool.”

Kylie Jenner’s intervention is significant because in the influencer world, she “means serious business”, said The Guardian. In 2018, a single tweet by Jenner asking her 25 million followers “does anyone else not open Snapchat any more?” wiped $1.3bn off the market cap of the social network, which had undergone a controversial redesign.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been “pushing into short videos” – a market that TikTok dominates on mobile, said CNBC.

The row comes as Meta prepares to report its earnings, with analysts predicting the company’s first year-on-year quarterly revenue decline. TikTok was the most-downloaded app of 2021, according to the web security and performance company Cloudflare, beating the three platforms owned by Meta.

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