Instagram Is Rethinking Its Unpopular Changes

Instagram is canceling some of the planned changes to its platform that stirred quite a social media furor over the past few days. First, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri proclaimed that video was the future of Instagram following an announcement that all public videos under 15 minutes in length will become Reels while the feed will go full-screen. Then, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg dropped the bombshell that the share of recommended content in the Instagram and Facebook feeds will double next year.

In an interview with tech journalist Casey Newton, Mosseri revealed that the limited beta testing of a full-screen feed will come to an end over the next couple of weeks. Additionally, the company will also reduce the number of recommended posts that currently pop up in your home feed. Whether those plans also cover Zuckerberg's promise to investors about doubling down on algorithmically recommended content in the feed starting next year remains unclear.

However, Mosseri's quick move is still a remarkable event and shows that the fierce online backlash from Instagram users really rattled the top brass at the company. From regular users venting out their frustration on social media to influential figures promoting the "Make Instagram Instagram Again" movement, the proposed changes that would make Instagram feel more like TikTok have drawn sharp criticism.

Despite remarkable pushback, video is here to stay

Talking about the main feed and the content that populates it, Mosseri told Newton that Instagram needs "to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again." While Mosseri was confident that Instagram will bounce back, the decision to push less recommended content into users' feeds was temporary.

However, Mosseri raised an important point about the evolving content consumption patterns on Instagram, which have dramatically shifted more towards video as per internal data. "The growth of video we have seen long predates us leaning more into recommendations and unconnected content," Mosseri remarked. In the context of making rapid changes to the core Instagram experience, Mosseri mentioned that the company needs to do a better job at explaining the benefits of a change before making those tweaks so that users aren't left surprised and confused.

While the full-screen feed experience will be relegated to early experimentation status, it appears that videos are here to stay. According to Mosseri, Instagram has always done a good job with how photos are handled on the platform. However, now that users are interacting more and more with videos in every corner of the platform, it needs to figure out how to do better in that department in such a way that users have a positive experience and creators are not hurt, either.