Instagram has made a number of big changes this year, and it’s not finished yet. The photo-sharing platform will this week phase out its ‘following’ feed – the function that allows you to see which posts accounts you follow are liking and commenting on.
Back in August, Instagram quietly removed the feed for some users as part of a trial. However, this week, a spokesperson for the social media site confirmed to Buzzfeed News that the update will now be rolled out to all accounts starting this week.
Currently, if you click on the heart-shaped icon at the bottom of your Instagram home screen, you are given the option to view two feeds. One shows any activity on your accounts and posts, and the second tab allows you to view the activity of those you are following, including who they have followed and posts they have liked and commented on.
The ‘following’ feed has been one of the more controversial elements of Instagram, allowing people to ‘snoop’ on the activity of their friends, partners and even celebrities. Many will welcome its removal.
"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 if for, but it's also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up," Vishal Shah, Instagram's head of product told BuzzFeed News.
The move follows a number of new measures taken by Instagram to improve user experience. Earlier this year, it trialled hiding like count for users in a number of countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Instagram said it had introduced the move in a bid to remove the pressure associated with a visible like count. The company is yet to reveal whether this update will be rolled out universally, but it has been well received by many users online.
It has also made changes to the way people can comment on posts. At the beginning of the year, a warning prompt was introduced for any comment it deemed might be offensive or used to incite hate, with a pop-up asking the commenter if they were sure they wanted to post it.
Just last week, Instagram also introduced a ‘restrict’ function, which allows you to hide comments from a certain person on your feed. It means that comment will not be visible to your other followers – just to the person who has left it. It has been introduced as a way to combat persistent trolling.