Snippet: The Year Instagram Became Facebook ☍

Shared on December 16, 2020

Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:

Instagram spent much of the past eight years fighting to maintain its independence from Facebook. In 2020, the fight was over.

Instagram has rolled out a series of features that are thoroughly Facebookian in nature. They’re largely focused around getting you to use the app for longer (and also tend to feel messy and incomplete). It’s hard not to see this as the moment that Instagram succumbed to Facebook’s worst tendency: a focus on growth at all costs, even if it means making a product that’s less enjoyable to use.

The changes are numerous. Facebook Messenger was integrated into Instagram DMs, a beat-for-beat TikTok clone was created and given its own section within the app, the primary “post a photo” button was tucked away into a corner, and an entire tab was given over to shopping.

The most telling change was one of the less explosive ones: it was a tweak to the app’s classic photo feed. Instagram now displays an endless row of algorithmically recommended posts once you get through the pictures your friends put up. (On my feed, I’m mostly presented with vibey pictures of European models, with some ads mixed in between.)

While change is inevitable in the tech world, Instagram has gotten worse and more heavy-handed over the past year—it has gone from something I thoroughly enjoyed (it was often the “nice” social network) to something that has too much clutter, crap, and feels like Facebook proper.

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