Instagram backpedals on 'TikTok-style' design overhaul following critical backlash

By Alessandro Carrara | 29-Jul-2022

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and James Charles were among the top celebrities and influencers condemning the proposed changes

Instagram has walked away from its widely criticised decision to redesign the platform and increase the focus to be on video content.

A test version of the app, featuring full-screen displays for posts and video recommendations in the vein of TikTok, will now be phased out.

The image sharing platform is also working on improving its algorithm to ensure user’s feeds are not being clogged up by content creators they do not follow.

Instagram’s top boss, Adam Mosseri, told tech news website The Verge: “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.

“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.”

In a series of posts on his Instagram Story, Mosseri openly addressed the concerns of users regarding the platform’s current status.

“For those of you who are anxious about the percentage of feed that are recommendations, I think we got ahead of our skis on this one,” he explained.

“I think we were not recommending content which was as relevant as it should be, so we’ve scaled down the percentage of feeds which are recommendations.”

He added that Instagram will not increase that percentage until it is “much more confident” that users are viewing posts they actually want to see on their main feed.

Mosseri also mentions how video-focused content is “growing with or without us”.

“When we don’t change anything about feed, it grows, before we did any recommendations, it grows,” he added.

“We want to make sure that the video experience on Instagram is great, which it is not yet, while making sure that photo experience stays great.

“So that’s the trick, that’s the problem we need to solve.”

In terms of creator reach, Mosseri said Instagram’s business interest is to grow reach for every creator as much as it can.

This means it will be prioritising smaller creators over bigger ones when “push comes to shove”.

Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian were among the top celebrities condemning the suggested changes.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars shared images on their Instagram Stories this week asking the Meta-owned app to "make Instagram Instagram again".

Other users accused the site of attempting to copy rival social media platform TikTok’s short-form video style.

James Charles was the most recent influencer to add his voice to the redesign discussions.

Charles, who has 22.8 million Instagram followers, claimed that influencers were being "forced to post video".

"The performance of our photos has tanked more than 90% so creators are switching to video not because they want to, but because we’re being told that it’s the only chance to grow," said the 23-year-old.

"The shift to video is not industry wide, it’s TikTok-wide. I understand that every business has to evolve, compete, and please investors, but Instagram is losing the competition and has lost its identity along the way."

Charles' Instagram post on the situation received more than 30,000 'likes' at the time.

Sam McKnight, a celebrity hairdresser and brand owner, was also outspoken against Instagram's algorithm.

He reposted a photo gallery created by artist Unskilled Worker which accused Instagram of focusing on "mind-numbing" content and "shadow banning" artists, a practice of preventing content from being visible to an online audience.

TikTok’s prominence has been rapidly growing since its launch in 2017, taking away huge chunks of Instagram’s market share.

The ByteDance-owned app took the top spot over both Instagram and Facebook after it was crowned the most downloaded app of Q1 2022.

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