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Instagram walks back updates after criticism from Kardashian family

By Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business

Instagram on Thursday said it will walk back some of its recent feature changes after facing mounting backlash from users, including members of the Kardashian family.

In recent days, Instagram has come under fire from users who are frustrated that the photo-sharing app is becoming too much like rival TikTok. Some users have complained that Instagram is now showing a much greater proportion of recommended content from accounts that they don’t follow versus posts from their friends. Instagram has also been testing full-screen posts, similar to how posts appear on TikTok.

“Based on our findings and community feedback, we’re pausing the full-screen test on Instagram so we can explore other options, and we’re temporarily decreasing the number of recommendations you see in your feed so we can improve the quality of your experience,” a spokesperson for Meta, Instagram’s parent company, said in a statement Thursday.

“We recognize that changes to the app can be an adjustment, and while we believe that Instagram needs to evolve as the world changes, we want to take the time to make sure we get this right,” the statement added.

Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri first announced the pullback earlier Thursday in an interview with tech news outlet Platformer.

“I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri told the outlet. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”

Reality TV moguls Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, two of the most popular users on the platform, were among the people who publicly criticized the TikTok-ification of Instagram. They each re-shared a viral post calling to “Make Instagram Instagram again.” Jenner, in particular, has previously had a strong influence over the social media sector; after she blasted a Snapchat redesign in 2018, its stock dropped.

Like other social platforms, Instagram has increasingly attempted to copy features from TikTok in an effort to compete with its fast-growing rival. In Instagram’s case, however, that has meant shifting from being photo-focused to embracing videos. In 2020, Instagram launched Reels, a short-form video feature similar to TikTok.

“We’re going to continue to support photos, they’re part of our heritage,” Mosseri said in a video shared on Instagram Tuesday, in which he defended the various updates to the platform. “That said, I need to be honest: I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.” He acknowledged, however, that the full screen video feature test is “not yet good” and that it was only rolled out to a small percentage of users.

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