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Instagram: Building a healthier social media

INSTAGRAM’S NEW UPDATES If you’re a frequent Instagram user, you’ve probably noticed by now that the social media giant has undergone some rather drastic changes in the past few months. These changes are long overdue and much needed! The changes (or updates) directly affect what people in the tech industry call the “user experience.” In other words, Insta is finally addressing an issue that has had many parents worried for years: their social media has a seriously toxic and addictive user experience, especially among younger users. LIKED BY … AND OTHERS In an effort to decrease the addictive nature of their software, one of the major changes that Insta introduced was disabling the ability for most users to view how many “likes” a post received. Instead, users simply now only see the name of one user, followed by “and others.” (Note that this update did not affect certain Instagram accounts, such as accounts registered as an artist.) Although you still get bombarded with the dopamine-induced heart symbol notifications, and users are still able to see who liked their post, Insta has nonetheless attempted to shift the focus of their software away from “competitive liking” and more towards post appreciation. REMOVAL OF THE “FOLLOWING” ACTIVITY MONITOR The only reason I can think of for needing to see what other people are doing on Insta is if I had a career in marketing or statistics research. In early October, the developers behind the software removed the ability for users to see the like activity of who they follow. Under the “following” tab, a user was able to see which posts were liked by whom. Can you imagine the plethora of issues that this must have caused? To add fuel to the fire, you were able to see which users recently followed other users. In other words, if your friend started to follow someone you don’t like, you would be able to see this activity and voila, the drama begins! Yay Instagram for removing this feature and keeping friends together. OFFENSIVE COMMENTS FILTER This Insta feature was added to an updates package back in May of 2018, however, it still deserves some recognition nonetheless. Instagram developed an algorithm for detecting and hiding “comments containing attacks on a person’s appearance or character, as well as threats to a person’s well-being or health.” The goal for developing the filter was to promote a safer online community according to Instagram’s info center. QUICK SEARCH BUTTONS ON THE EXPLORE PAGE In an effort to promote the exposure of more creative and inspirational content, Insta added buttons on their explore page that allows you to quickly search through various categories of creative subject matter. The buttons include topics such as Style, Decor, TV & Movies and Art, among many. SOME OF IT HAS TO COME FROM YOU No matter how many changes, algorithms or filters Instagram can possibly develop, the best way to have a positive experience on social media ultimately comes down to you (the user) and how you use it. Instagram’s algorithm for what you see on the application is based on what the system thinks you want to see the most. The way this algorithm operates is through monitoring your “taps.” Therefore, each time you tap on anything on Instagram, it is logged for your account and then their system pushes more of this content your way. All of this to say, Instagram can only do so much on their end to ensure that their users are safe from harmful messages and social media addiction, however, the only way you can truly have a safe experience is by wanting to.

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