Yesterday, unbeknownst to most, Instagram decided to casually release an update that made their feed scroll horizontally rather than vertically. Needless to say, the unexpected change didn’t go over too well. Faithful Instagram users are apparently not fans of impromptu modifications, especially while they’re still recording their winter holidays for posterity.
Instagram must have heard the complaints far and wide since 20 minutes later they reversed the update. The photo-sharing social media site later apologized for the unannounced change. The change meant tapping to see more pictures rather than scrolling through a feed of pictures.
View this post on Instagram
Instagram issued an apology after receiving backlash for yesterday's unexpected update. The horizontal swipe feed update garnered such a negative response, Instagram rolled back the update minutes after it was released. According to the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, the update was meant to be a "very small test." #swipeleft #swipe #scroll #instagram #ig #instagramupdate #facebook #timeline #feed #newsfeed #igfeed #update #apology #disaster #reaction #new #tech #technology #news
Tapping has traditionally meant that a follower likes an image. However, the change required users to tap on the right or left side of the picture to move to the next picture or video. A progress bar indicated how far users had gone in their newsfeed. The change began trending under the #instagramupdate hashtag on Twitter and the reactions were mostly negative.
On Twitter, Facebook’s head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, claimed that the update was accidental and only intended to be a test. He asked that users restart the app if they continued to see the update. “Sorry for the confusion! Always trying new ideas, usually with a much smaller number of people,” he tweeted.
Reportedly, Instagram had been testing the update for the past few months. In October, TechCrunch reported that some users were already experiencing the change. The social media site confirmed at the time that they were experimenting. “We’re always testing ways to improve the experience on Instagram and bring you closer to the people and things you love,” the site said in a statement.
The changes may reflect the site’s new leadership. In 2012, Facebook, which has a tendency to make sudden changes, bought the site for $1 billion. The original Instagram’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left the company in September. Following the update, many on social media expressed their desire that Systrom and Krieger return.
The backlash may in part also be explained by Instagram’s demographic – the site’s users are 50% iPhone owners and 50% Android owners. iPhone users tend to be more touch-sensitive given the platform’s functionality. Therefore, interfacing changes that involve touch may be more disruptive for iPhone users. Yet if Instagram can learn one lesson from this debacle, it’s is that while 90% of its 150 million users are under the age of 35, they are still not necessarily comfortable with excessive change.