Dear Adam Mosseri,
As someone who is both an Instagram user and deeply interested in the internet, I have been (along with many other people) disappointed in your recent changes to the platform. Not only do they make the platform less enjoyable, but I am concerned that to be blunt, you are just picking up on ideas from other social media companies and rolling them into Instagram in an attempt to ‘stay current’ without thinking up your own unique selling points and features.
The recent ‘IG Candid Challenges’ that appear to be being tested on Instagram are directly lifted from the newer app Be Real. Be Real, as I’m sure you know, prompts users once per day to post a candid photo of whatever they are doing. This is something that Instagram didn’t participate in prior to Be Real taking off, and the testing of this feature comes after you had to roll back other TikTok-like changes because the user base disliked them so much. Despite people’s consternation, you have kept the change that turns every video posted on Instagram into a Reel, as far as I know. Not only is this exceptionally irritating with regard to things like film trailers and music videos, which I enjoy watching on the platform, but it also limits the range of content that users can post. I’m not sure why you think it’s necessary to take away options from your users, given that those who want to use the Reel format were free to do so before, and this content was already being prioritised by your algorithm so people were being encouraged to use the feature. Taking away the available options for people trying to share moments with their family and friends, or from small creators trying to use the site to share their work, seems to me to be rather pointless.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that Meta recently reported its first ever decline in quarterly revenue, a change which it blamed on macroeconomic conditions, but which must surely also be linked to its failure to define its social media offerings in the changing environment of the internet. I think that Meta management seem to often make the mistake of viewing the internet and its market value as being about jumping on the biggest trend, then jumping on the next one, and doing this repeatedly. It seems to me that in contrast, the internet is more a big collection of niches and subcultures, and creating an offering that sells is not necessarily about pleasing everyone (or about the ‘general’ audience) but instead is about finding your niche and your own unique service, product or audience. This is where Meta seems to be falling down with Instagram — instead of capitalising on the uniqueness of this platform, the company are instead making it more like every other platform. This seems to me to be incredibly illogical when people enjoyed Instagram far more before Meta even bought it, and would much prefer it returned to its original state, with a chronological feed and focus on photo sharing. There is no competition for Instagram’s function here, and people will happily watch adverts to benefit from a service they enjoy.
I hope that you listen to your users — they are who watches the adverts and provide the audience for your top creators. They are who give the app its growing monthly user figures. I hope that Instagram can be a unique and interesting place to spend time on the internet and doesn’t become a copy of TikTok or Be Real, as I can use those instead if I want to. I suppose I can only echo the meme, and say ‘make Instagram Instagram again’.