When Instagram Riles Its User Base

Instagram, millennials’ favored social media network, has been making big changes in the last week, including adding the capability to post videos up to a minute in length, way up from the previous 15-second limit.

Unfortunately for Instagram, that added feature has been overshadowed by a pair of user-rattling hiccups:

Instagram’s app update prevented users from switching between accounts, or logging out of the app altogether.

For Instagram users who value their privacy, that’s a big problem. For professional Instagram account managers who depend on publishing to multiple accounts quickly, that qualifies as a crisis.

Additionally, Instagram neglected to clearly communicate with users about reported modifications to their feed algorithm.

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The confusion sparked a flurry of user-generated posts asking their followers to “Turn on Notifications” for fear of never appearing on their followers’ feeds again.


George Takei, a social media titan with more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, published one of these posts, which fanned the flames of confusion and added legitimacy to the “Turn on Notifications” trend.

Meanwhile, although Instagram took to Twitter to address concerns, the Instagram blog stayed silent on the social scandal, continuing to publish generic posts about small-scale artists and ignoring the issue at hand.

It’s a reminder that serious participants in social media platforms take their social media — well, seriously.

Instagram could have prevented the confusion and subsequent backlash by proactively enlisting its power users, like George Takei and Jennifer Lopez, to create highly shareable content that clearly explained and resolved the issue.

They also would have benefited by promoting a concise blog post explaining, in simple terms, the truth about the “Turn on Notifications” issue.

By failing to act quickly, Instagram eroded confidence in its product and made its user base feel disempowered. The app will need to rebuild users’ trust, especially among those who depend on the platform for more than just posting pictures of jealousy-inducing sunsets.


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