Instagram Is Retiring Its 'Following' Tab, Devastating Stalkers Everywhere
Instagram is nixing a little known feature that -- for some -- provided an endless source of reliable information.
Yes, the 'Following' tab in the Activity feature is about to bite the bullet.
First reported by BuzzFeed News, Instagram is ditching the feature because it was both little used and a nasty surprise for people who didn't know it was there.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,” Instagram's head of product Vishal Shah told BuzzFeed News.
“So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up."
For those who have never used the feature to stalk both celebrities and exes alike, the 'Following' feature is part of the Activities tab, which is where you see who has liked, commented on, or followed your account.
A swipe left will show you who, amongst the people you follow, who have liked, commented on, or followed another account.
It's frequently dull -- do you really need to see that influencer like every comment on her account? No, you do not. But occasionally it would throw up something slightly scandalous, or newsworthy, or both, like when this writer questioned why her boyfriend was liking Emily Ratajkowski's butt photos, or when this reporter found that Laura Bush liked a comment calling her husband "war criminal trash".
The feature even prompted an anonymous person to issue a warning in New York Magazine: "A PSA for Dudes: Everyone Can See You Liking Teen Girls' Bikini Pics on Instagram".
In short: it served as a tool for low stakes stalking, and was ignored by the rest of us.
Instagram's 'Following' feature was initially launched in 2011 to provide users with a place to discover new content. It never served its core purpose all that well, and Instagram launched the personalised 'Explore' page in 2019 to solve the problem instead.
BuzzFeed News reporter Katie Notopoulos, who reported the scoop, said the move would allow "horny people to fav and follow all the horny stuff they want without getting caught".
Others in the tech space agreed.
"RIP to the creepiest part of Instagram," New York Times tech reporter Kate Conger said.
It's the latest in a series of updates Instagram has made to the platform.
Last month, it experimented with removing the like count display on posts, saying it was a bid to make the platform less taxing on mental health. Facebook, which owns Instagram, later followed suit.
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