You may have noticed that Instagram sucks right now. Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner certainly have, and it’s gotten to the point that the Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri himself felt it necessary to respond in a video message to users. The message? The things you hate about Instagram will continue until morale improves and the pivot to video is inevitable.
"I need to be honest,” Mosseri said. “I do believe more and more of Instagram is going to become videos."
What used to be an app for viewing photos from your friends is increasingly obsessed with videos. For some users, the interface has changed to full-screen video. Some of the videos in your feed are from users you don’t even follow, and when you’re not watching those you’re increasingly looking at more and more ads.
It all comes off as a quite painful attempt by Facebook to copy the unstoppable popularity of TikTok. Recent changes include a pilot of a fullscreen homepage mode that looks even more like TikTok, injecting "recommended" Reels (TikToks!) into users' feeds, and a general move toward Reels.
In a video presumably posted because its most famous user is no longer happy with it, Mosseri shared a video on Twitter and Instagram where he said that some changes the platform have made are "not yet good."
"There's a lot going on Instagram right now," Mosseri said. "If you're seeing a new full-screen version of the feed or you're hearing about it, know that that is a test."
“If you’re looking at what people share on Instagram—that’s shifting more and more to videos over time. If you’re looking at what people like and consumer and view on Instagram, that’s shifting more and more to video over time, even when we stop changing anything, so we need to lean into that shift while continuing to support photos.”
Mosseri acknowledged it's possible Instagram is doing a "bad job" with recommendations of Reels people should watch and told people they should "snooze" recommendations if they don't like them. "But we're going to continue to try and get better at recommendations because we think it's one of the most effective and important ways to help creators reach more people."
"We're also going to need to evolve because the world is changing quickly and we're going to have to change along with it," he said. What is unsaid but is obvious is that the only "change" in the world is that TikTok is increasingly popular and Instagram is less so. And so Facebook is going to do the only thing that it's known how to do for the last five years, which is rip off its competitors, clone them, and pivot their own platforms to be as close to whatever upstart it feels threatens it. In doing so, it loses whatever unique characteristics it had as a social media platform and faces user revolts like we're seeing now.
Facebook, Instagram, and Mosseri are in a predicament. The app that he ran before these changes sucked. The app that he’s running with these new features implemented also sucks. Every social media company in the world is trying to copy TikTok because it’s new, popular, and novel, but TikTok also sucks in some familiar ways, and will surely suck in novel and horrible ways we’ll discover soon enough. What is a CEO to do?
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