15 December 2014

Wired: “Instagram Is Getting So Good at News, It Should Scare Twitter”

Instagram owes its growing role as a news service to the rise of photos as a form of communication. They’re faster to take and often easier to decode. I think we’re at the stage right now where exchanging simple text-based messages on a social platform seems antiquated, says Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer who has been covering social media and realtime marketing for more than a decade. Twitter of course carries photos, too, but, she says, The platform is still very heavily text.

Jessi Hempel

It’s an interesting idea, except…

  • first of all, Instagram is missing a key ingredient to allow news to spread fast and reliably, namely a Share button to compete with ’s Retweet feature. Right now, if someone posts a breaking-news picture on Instagram, his followers can either like or comment, but not spread the word to their own circles about it. Other users can only discover the shot if algorithms decide to show it in the ‘Explore’ section – and even then it’s stuck there, because they can’t share it further. As I noticed in a previous article, and this one happily acknowledges further down the line, the main focus of Instagram is entertainment; ‘serious’ news makes for poor entertainment.
  • it’s quite a longshot to spin a couple of pictures of stormy weather into a news phenomenon. I checked the Instagram profile featured in the article: it has one(!) picture of the storm, the rest are interior shots and graffiti pics, completely irrelevant as ‘news’.
  • opinions from a co-founder are largely irrelevant, now that (and through it Mark Zuckerberg) completely controls Instagram.

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