Instagram has confirmed it will remove the Following tab feature and that users will no longer be able to see the activity of accounts they follow, only their own activity.
The company said it had decided to remove the feature because only a small number of users used it on a regular basis. Instagram’s head of product, Vishal Shah, said the tab was removed for the sake of simplicity and to cut down on a feature most people were not aware existed.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing. 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,” Shah told Buzzfeed News.
While some users have vented their frustration others have welcomed the move, labelling the feature as “creepy”.
Launched in 2011, the Following tab is one of the platform’s early features that debuted long before it released the Explore tab.
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Before the Explore tab, Following was the easiest way for a user to discover more content they were likely to be interested in because it revealed the content that the accounts they followed liked.
However, the controversial tab had its downsides and often brought unwanted surprises to those looking at its feed. There have been numerous instances where the feed has ended both friendships and relationships between users. Or public figures have been exposed liking content that tarnishes their reputation.
It was also used by some to stalk other users, for example, to keep tabs on current and ex-partners.
Other users feel very differently and have taken to Twitter and Reddit to voice their frustration saying that the Explore tab is not as good at recommending engaging content as the Follow tab.
Some have said it was a useful tool to assess if someone you follow was unsavoury and that the move will protect the “creepos”, “paedophiles” and “cheaters”. One user called for a middle ground, insisting the company should only make the function available for those who are happy to share their activity with their followers instead of removing it entirely.
The decision to remove it follows on from a number of other new measures implemented by the company to make the platform a safer and more mentally healthy place. Earlier in the month, the company rolled out its new Restrict feature, that enables users to “quietly” report harassment without fear of reprisals.
It also announced it would be more strictly moderating content that was judged to be promoting self-harm, suicide, eating-disorders and dodgy weight-loss products.