Like many social media apps, Instagram – which boasts 1 billion active users - has lived many lives. Ten years ago, when the application launched, it was a different space entirely. Captions were scarce, as were selfies, and remember that brown square icon? Nope, neither do we. In the mid-2010s it would morph into a more minimalist concept from its humble origins. And now, its foundation is to shift once again, according to Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri. In a video posted to Twitter, Mosseri explained that Instagram is “no longer a photo-sharing app” and will be making some major changes focusing on four key areas: creators, video, shopping, and messaging.
“Let’s be honest, there is some really serious competition right now,” Mosseri said in his statement, openly citing TikTok and YouTube. The global reign of video is what the app is primarily aiming to “lean into”. Instagram’s solutions will be “full-screen”, “immersive”, and “mobile-first." (For avid users of the app this is perhaps not hugely surprising, with the rise of Reels and IGTV, as well as the integration of shopping.) Mosseri also explained some further adjustments, soon to be implemented, that included showing users recommendations for new topics to follow. It is worth noting that the app has been no stranger to controversy in recent months. In May, for instance, it was accused of hiding pro-Palestine content, in the midst of the Gaza conflict (a letter, which 174 Facebook employees signed, called for new measures to ensure that pro-Palestinian content was not unfairly suppressed). Such instances, in tandem with competition from fresher alternatives, has undoubtedly prompted Instagram’s shapeshifting.
Not everyone is a fan of the future Instagram is veering into, though. Rachida Benamar, a London-based lawyer, believes the fun of Instagram may be waning. “I can only speculate but it appears to me that Instagram is favouring big brands and numbers over enjoyment,” she tells us. “It is definitely not a photo-sharing app anymore – it is more a marketplace for affluent brands [that] Instagram wants to make money off [of] through advertising.”
Still, many of Instagram’s users feel the app serves the purpose it was intended for – and does it well. The app still has a distinctly high rating on the Apple Store (both US and UK): 4.7 out of 5 stars. Although TikTok has eclipsed Instagram for Generation Z, there continue to be creators who choose the latter for the work they do.
Lejla Dauti, who uses Instagram to raise awareness for domestic abuse, says that she views Instagram as “a platform that can be used to do a lot of good. [The app] definitely evolved over the years as a space on the internet where everyday people like myself can use it to raise awareness and make changes for the things we’re passionate about. Without it, I’m not sure how I would have had my voice heard.”