The shake-up comes just months after Instagram positioned its Explore tab as the ‘go-to place’ for advertisers to promote content.
Just a few days after Instagram launched Threads, a stripped-down companion app that is focused on instant messaging rather than scrolling and liking photos, Instagram has announced that it will scrap the Following tab from its core app.
On Monday (7 October), it was reported that the company planned to remove the feature from the app, as it believes that the Explore tab is the “go-to place to find new people, places and hashtags to follow”.
This comes after the company published a blogpost in June 2019, notifying partners and users that ads would be introduced to the Explore tab.
At the time, Instagram said: “Today, 80pc of people follow a business on Instagram and Explore can help them find the next business or product that they might love.
“Whether it’s shopping, catching up on stories or discovering the latest trends, we see people actively looking to connect with brands they like. That’s why over the next few months, we’ll be introducing ads in Explore feed.”
The Following tab enabled Instagram users to witness a live feed of what their friends, family, co-workers and favourite celebrities were liking and commenting on the app.
As pointed out by TechCrunch, the tab was “notorious for the transparency it brought to our online lives”, much like the ‘Best Friends’ feature that was removed from Snapchat four years ago.
Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told BuzzFeed that few people were using the feature and that many were unaware that it even existed.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing. So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up,” he said.
While Instagram has removed one major feature, it has introduced another. The company is now providing users with tools to protect them from hoax emails sent from hackers and scammers imitating the social network.
Instagram will introduce a feature that enables users to check all correspondence sent to them by Instagram in the last 14 days, helping them to distinguish genuine emails from fake ones.
This tool will be accessible in the Settings section of the app, and will also be accessible from the desktop version of the site.
Both the anti-phishing feature and the removal of the Following tab are the latest updates Instagram has rolled out, following the introduction of new features to help combat bullying on the site.
On 2 October, Instagram introduced Restrict, a feature that lets users restrict certain accounts so that the comments posted by these accounts are only visible to the commenters who posted them. The user whose photograph was commented on cannot see the comments, nor can any of their followers.