08 August 2016

Instagram Blog: “Introducing Instagram Stories”

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.

Instagram Blog

Another attempt from Facebook to copy the success of Snapchat – this time publicly stated in an interview by none other than Instagram’s CEO. There’s naturally been some back-and-forth among industry analysts whether this is ‘copying done right’ or ‘shameless stealing’, but for me the true question is if and how this fits into Instagram’s existing product. And the answer is not at all from my point of view.

Instagram Stories on top of the iPhone app

I can sort of understand the reasoning – after all, about a quarter of people I follow on Instagram were advertising their Snapchat profiles in the photo descriptions – but as a user I simply don’t want to see this kind of junk in my app. I haven’t used Snapchat – it seems more like an US thing right now – but from what I gather its appeal is that messages disappear automatically and you can manually approve who follows you, to prevent your more embarrassing side from spilling into public view. And that’s exactly the opposite of Instagram’s original product: a simple, chronological feed of photos from people you follow, a public profile you can grow and curate over time. Every product update since has diluted this clear use case to some extent: messaging, ads, algorithmically sorted feeds – but Stories runs completely opposite to the original Instagram.

There’s no better place to grasp the conflict between the original Instagram and Stories than this paragraph about privacy. Apparently Stories are private only if your account is set to private as well; if the Instagram account is public (like most people’s I suspect) you need to manually hide stories from followers – I can’t imagine a more tedious task for people with even modest followings. I think this will kill Stories in the long run: unlike Snapchat, there’s still the tension of not knowing who will see the story and that will severely limit what people share here.

Your story follows the privacy settings of your account. If you set your account to private, your story is visible only to your followers. However, you can also easily hide your entire story from anyone you don’t want to see it, even if they follow you. When watching your own story, swipe up to check out who’s seen each photo and video. You can even choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile.

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