The photo-sharing social media site Instagram has apologised after rolling out a major change to the way users interact with its app to more users than intended – leading to an online outcry and the system being switched back within an hour.
The change meant that instead of scrolling through a feed of pictures from friends, as the app has worked since its launch in 2010, users had to tap to see more pictures.
Tapping a picture in the middle of the image triggered a “like” of the image. But rather than scrolling vertically, users were required to tap on the right or left side of the image to advance to the next picture or video, with a progress bar indicating how far they were through their newsfeed.
The switch to horizontal scrolling was met with immediate hostility from many users, including some high-profile names. The rapper Skepta, who has 1.6 million followers on the Facebook-owned platform, simply posted to Twitter “Instagram. Nooooo” with a facepalm emoji. #InstagramUpdate became one of the top trending Twitter trends in the UK.
Responding to the criticism on Twitter, Facebook’s head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said the roll-out was an accident and was only meant to be a small test. “If you’re still seeing it, simply restart the app,” he explained.
In a separate tweet, he said: “Sorry for the confusion! Always trying new ideas, usually with a much smaller number of people.”
There had been indications that Instagram had been testing the change for several months. In October 2018, TechCrunch reported on screenshots being posted showing some users experiencing the change. At the time Instagram would not confirm whether they were working on it, instead issuing the generic statement: “We’re always testing ways to improve the experience on Instagram and bring you closer to the people and things you love.”
The tap-to-advance method to browse your friends’ content more closely resembles the interaction within the popular “Stories” feature on Instagram.
In September, Instagram’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left the company. It had been acquired by Facebook for $1bn in April 2012.
The Guardian Tech RSS