RIP Instagram?

Social media users express their dissatisfaction with Instagram’s announcement of their move to an algorithmic feed 

Earlier this week Instagram announced that the 400+ million users strong platform will soon be switching from their chronological timeline to an algorithmic feed. In their announcement, the 5-year-old, Facebook-owned company explained that “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds” and an algorithm will optimize users’ experiences on the platform by showing them posts Instagram thinks they will like most.

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Adweek said this change was inevitable. Was it though?

Social media users were not happy about this announcement, taking to Instagram and other social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with this update. Two hashtags – #RIPInstagram and #KeepInstagramChronological– even began to trend on Twitter as the news broke.

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People also expressed their anger via Facebook’s newly launched Reactions(maybe Facebook should have announced this change after Instagram’s algorithm announcement…) and via comments on posts reporting about this change.
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Almost all of the comments on the above Social Media Today article post were negative. Some even wrote that they think that Facebook is just trying to get more money out of marketers, not trying to make user experience better.
  • “I always love how social networks think they know what I love best. There are many things I’d love to get first on Instagram – like notifications that aren’t all clumped in one spot. It’s a nightmare for big brands to see all comments, likes and new followers together. Clearly a move to leverage ads more.” –Nycole Hampton
Other comments included:
  • “And so it begins… First the algorithm, then the further decline in organic reach and engagement. Instagram is now the new Facebook” –Sarah Hudnall
  • “Ugh, this is going to be the death of Instagram. All you’ll get is sponsored posts and the stuff from people with millions of followers. Everything else will just vanish.” –Lee Osborne
  • “Not happy at all. I don’t like letting strangers to decide what I can and what I can’t see on my feed. A further step to Instagram facebookization.” –Federica Scrigner
A petition was even created in an attempt to stop this change before it launches in a few months. Last I checked it had over 176,000 signatures.
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Is this change a wise move? Many argue that Instagram has enjoyed its popularity because of its simple, chronological feed, and if it moves to an algorithmic feed it will lose its uniqueness.
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I recently read (and tweeted) an excellent article posted on Medium about the real-time messaging service Slack. The author argued that Slack shot to popularity, barreling past competitors, due to a few key aspects, one of which was social isolation. Slack is a very quick moving platform. This serves a very important purpose: “if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.” THIS is what Instagram will lose out on — the social isolation and therefore addiction to the app. The chronological order of photos almost forces users to constantly check the app so they don’t miss out on anything.
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With this in mind, will Snapchat fill the void that the algorithmic version of Instagram will create? Snapchat stories only last 24 hours, so if you don’t view a friend’s story in that small time frame, you’ll never see their story, which can create social isolation.
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One commenter, David Mollison, on the above post thinks so. He said: “Terrible idea. Snap Chat [sic] will take over because of this.”
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Storytelling in the Digital Age

Recognizing the changing landscape of how people communicate and receive information, journalists and news organizations have changed the way they investigate, source and tell the news. One such reporter is Paul Lewis, the west coast bureau chief for The Guardian. He is active on Twitter, Vine and Instagram and uses social media to find sources for his stories.

In his 2011 TEDx Talk, Lewis touts the power of citizen journalism and encourages journalists to embrace crowd sourcing information: “accept that you can’t know everything and allow other people through technology be your eyes and ears.” Social media allows the general public to co-produce the news, he continues, and journalists should welcome this collaborative approach to storytelling. He then outlines how he used Twitter to uncover information in two murder cases: the mysterious death of Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, on British airways Flight 77, and the death of Ian Tomlinson at the g20 protests in London. Witnesses from across the globe spoke up through social media to tell their side of the story and provide photographs, audio and video to help Lewis write his story. See the full TEDx Talk below.

Though his TEDx Talk was recorded in 2011, Lewis continues to use social media in similar ways today. Since he is a bureau chief, he posts on a variety of topics, some stories of his own, some stories from other Guardian reporters, some stories from other publications, and also personal commentary and live tweeting of events. Most of his posts are regarding politics, technology, and world news.

For example, during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown, Lewis used Vine to show short videos of the protests happening there. In the caption, he added a link to the full version of the video that could be found on theguardian.com.

 

More recently, though, he has been covering the 2016 presidential campaign. He live tweets (and admits to typos) and asks questions of his followers:

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He also posts pictures and short videos directly to Twitter to give his followers a feel for the atmosphere he is experiencing:

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He retweets stories that mention him and also some that don’t. In the below story, Lewis went hunting with Donald Trump’s sons:

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Before he ran the story above, he posted a teaser on Instagram. Although he doesn’t have a large following on Instagram, it still elicited a response from one of his followers. Maybe he will soon start utilizing this medium more often.

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Lewis’ tweets regarding the 2016 presidential race aren’t falling on deaf ears. The Pew Research Center discovered that social media is the preferred method of learning political news for Millennials. The research shows that in the 2016 presidential campaign, “about a third (35%) of 18 to 29-year-olds name a social networking site as their most helpful source type for learning about the presidential election in the past week. This is about twice that of the next nearest type – news websites and apps (18%), another digital stream of information.” Below is a break down by age of how individuals are learning of the 2016 presidential race:

Paul Lewis demonstrates the power and influence social media can have on the news and even on justice. He recognizes that the public is a wonderful source of information and uses social media to gather content for his stories. Additionally, he uses social media to interact with his audience in real time, live-tweeting quotes, facts, and commentary along with images and videos to give his followers a more comprehensive understanding of his stories.