Updated Jul 26, 2022 - Technology

Instagram head responds to complaints that app is turning into TikTok

a screencap of Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri's post explaining changes happening on the social media platform.
A screencap of Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri's post addressing complaints that the social media platform is becoming more like Tiktok.

Instagram‘s top boss Adam Mosseri responded to a slew of criticisms Tuesday from some of the app's top celebrity users, including Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Chrissy Teigen, about experiments the company is undertaking to make the social media platform more video-focused.

Why it matters: For many in Instagram's community, the pivot to video feels like an abandonment of its roots as an artistic photo-sharing app.

Driving the news: The public backlash to Instagram's changes began Monday, when Kylie Jenner, the third-most-popular Instagram user globally, bashed the app in a re-shared Instagram Story for "trying to be like" TikTok.

  • "Make Instagram Instagram again," the post, which originated from another user, read. "i just want to see cute photos of my friends."
  • "[W]e don’t wanna make videos Adam lol," tweeted supermodel turned author Chrissy Teigen in reply to a video posted by Mosseri about changes on the platform.
  • "The reason there’s so much growth for video is because we are being FORCED to post video," commented James Charles, a popular influencer and makeup artist. "The shift to video is not industry wide, it’s TikTok-wide. I understand that every business has to evolve, compete, and please investors, but instagram is losing the competition and has lost it’s [sic] identity along the way."

Between the lines: In addition to celebrities, thousands of everyday users and creators with smaller followers also hounded Mosseri, with many expressing concerns that the app's pivot towards a more TikTok-like experience means there's less content from their friends in the feed.

  • Mosseri tweeted that "all the growth in photos and videos from friends has been in stories and in DMs."

In response to critics, Mosseri took to Instagram to record a video that he also re-shared on other platforms, explaining why Instagram is experimenting with certain changes, and conceding that some may not be ready yet. He addressed three key changes:

  • Full-screen experience: "If you’re seeing a new full-screen version of the feed or you're hearing about it, know that it is a test," he said. The idea is that a more full-screen experience — for both photos and videos — he said, “might be a more fun and engaging experience ... But I also want to be clear, it’s not yet good and we’re going to have to get it to a good place if we’re going to ship it to the rest of the Instagram community."
  • Shift towards video: “I want to be clear, we‘re going to continue to support photos … That said, I need to be honest, I do believe more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.” Mosseri said this shift is occurring in response to user behavior. "We have to lean into that shift while continuing to support photos"
  • Recommendations: Mosseri addressed changes to Instagram's feed that includes more recommended content, as opposed to content from users that a person chooses to follow. He said that the company is going to try to get better at post recommendations as he believes "it's an effective and important way to help creators reach more people."

The big picture: For Instagram and its sister app Facebook, TikTok has presented a fundamental challenge. Not only is the app stealing market share, but it has introduced a new type of experience centered around everyday creators.

  • In order to keep up, Instagram, Facebook and others have adopted parts of TikTok's strategy, but the transition hasn't come without pain points.
  • In addition to negative user feedback, the changes have forced Meta, Instagram and Facebook's parent company, to prioritize creator tools over other projects, like news and audio.

What to watch: The constant pivots by social media giants have eroded user trust, and pushed them towards smaller, more intimate apps.

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