It feels like only yesterday that #DeleteFacebook was trending in the wake of privacy scandal after privacy scandal. Now it's that other Facebook (sorry, Meta)-owned social media platform that's facing its own moment of reckoning. Yep, Instagram is in trouble.
The photo-sharing app (although that very definition is the issue here) has dominated the news this week, after a couple of Kardashians took to Stories demanding, "make Instagram Instagram again." This prompted a response from Instagram's CEO – and it was a response that didn't go down well with creatives. Maybe it's time to check out some of the other best social media platforms for emerging artists.
So what's the beef about? If you're an Instagram user, you've no doubt noticed that the platform appears to be trying very, very hard to be TikTok. This means videos are everywhere, as is "recommended content" from accounts you don't follow. The one thing that's hard to find is static image content from those you actually follow – which is the content many joined Instagram for in the first place. Not everyone wants to watch repurposed videos of people dancing or throwing melons at each other or whatever it actually is that they do over on TikTok.
All of this is bad news for artists – especially photographers, illustrators, and anyone who doesn't deal with video. In reaction to the new algorithm (which heavily favours video), illustrator Jim Stoten recently began sharing videos of himself 'doing nothing'. "The result has been extremely unexpected," he announced. "People have told me that this is the first time they have seen me in their feed for MONTHS."
But head of Instagram Adam Mosseri basically told the world, nothing's going to change. Instagram is going to continue to go all-in on video, and in particular video from people you don't follow. Because 'discovery'! He claimed that Instagram needed to "lean-in" to the public's apparent shift towards consuming video. And then, in a mid-week earnings call (as spotted by Gizmodo (opens in new tab)), Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that AI-generated content will soon take up 30% of the user's feed, instead of the current 15%. So, things are only going to get worse.
It could be argued that the writing's been on the wall for a while. Users have been complaining about Instagram's TikTok-ification for years – since the advent of Reels in 2020, there have been a baffling five different places to post content on the app, from Stories to the late IGTV (what was IGTV again? I forget). But the latest Instagram Reels update has doubled down on this as the format that will be king for now.
So is it time to delete Instagram? It's hard to escape the feeling that the platform's heydey is over – and seeing it scrambling to keep up with competition like TikTok isn't doing anything to help that sense. And as we well know from the infamous Snapchat share price plunge of 2018, one critical post from a Kardashian can wipe billions from a company's value.
Maybe it's time to start learning how to edit a video on TikTok. If you do decide to leave, see our guide to how to delete an Instagram account – and you might want to learn how to download Instagram photos first.