The Origin of Instagram
If you use Instagram or are familiar with it, you’d know it’s a social network for posting pictures and connecting with people. This is what it was originally intended for and a sense of connection and community was promised when you signed up. Instagram’s interface was originally simple and easy to navigate with the four tabs at the bottom of your screen: Home, Discover, Notifications, and your Profile. Nothing more, nothing less. Its primary purpose was posting photos to share with your followers, while also staying connected with people you may know in real life and following celebrities you’re interested in. There were also no “influencers” then, either, unlike now.
The Evolution Over the Years
If you’ve been on Instagram for years, you definitely should have noticed the changes they have been implementing over time. It used to be a quite basic app with one primary function, but it has been evolving from this function into something else entirely by changing its interface to promote other uses. From ‘Stories’ to ‘Reels’, and now we have a whole new shopping tab in place of where your ‘Notifications’ tab was for the purpose of enticing you to buy products.
The culture of Instagram has also changed as a whole compared to ten years ago, where it’s more “influencer” based because the purpose of “Instagram Influencers” is to influence and sell you products they’re paid to sponsor. But Instagram’s primary function has changed drastically, where instead of being a social network for posting photos and connecting with people, it’s become a place for marketing and consumption.
Consumption over Connection
Instagram has shaped its platform into advertising products influencing you to purchase instead of its original purpose of connecting with people. It’s no longer a simple platform with simple use but has evolved into something totally different.
The fact they moved the ‘Notifications’ tab to the top right corner and replaced its original location with a shopping tab should tell you everything you need to know about the direction Instagram is moving in, which is especially timely for the holidays right around the corner. Instagram’s interface has changed a lot, and it’s not just about posting pictures and connecting with others anymore, now it’s become a virtual marketplace to increase consumerism among its users. This shows what Instagram values more as their platform is leaning more towards promoting capitalism and consumerism to their users, stripping the platform of its original purpose as mentioned above.
What Their Users Think
A majority of respondents on a poll we posted agreed that this tactic is indeed manipulative. The Notifications tab was the tab you always went to whenever you received a new follower or a like on your post, but now, if you just updated the app, you may find yourself tapping that tab because you’re used to your Notifications being there, and you will find it to be a compilation of online shops and products to buy from. Instagram was not designed for this to be their original intention, and the app won’t be the same as it’s pushing forward toward being a virtual marketplace valuing consumerism over the originally promised social aspect of it.