Instagram Will Pause Updates Until All the Yelling Stops

Instagram Will Pause Updates Until All the Yelling Stops
In response to user fury, Instagram will pause its full-screen test and reduce the number of recommendations it shows users. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

Less than a day after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg elicited outrage by saying that more than 30% of users’ Instagram feeds would consist of AI-recommended content from people they don’t follow by next year, the photo-sharing app’s head honcho said the company would stop updates in an effort to staunch the flood of complaining from its users.

A Meta spokesperson told Gizmodo on Thursday afternoon that the company would pause the test of a full-screen feed, which is currently being rolled out to a small percentage of users, and decrease the number of AI-recommended posts that users see in their feeds. These features may reappear in the future; however, it seems likely that Meta, which owns Instagram, won’t roll them out again until users cool off.

“Based on our findings and community feedback, we’re pausing the full-screen test on Instagram so we can explore other options, and we’re temporarily decreasing the number of recommendations you see in your feed,” the spokesperson told Gizmodo in an emailed statement. “We recognise that changes to the app can be an adjustment, and while we believe that Instagram needs to evolve as the world changes, we want to take the time to make sure we get this right.”

The full-screen test will start disappearing over the next one to two weeks, the newsletter Platformer reported Thursday.

In an interview with Platformer on Thursday afternoon, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said that the company needed to go back to the drawing board. On Tuesday, Mosseri posted a Reel defending Instagram’s pivot to video and seemingly random recommendations after power users Kylie Jenner (360 million followers) and her sisters, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian (326 million and 192 million followers, respectively), supported the “Make Instagram Instagram Again” movement making the rounds on the app.

“I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri told Platformer. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”

Mosseri said Meta’s own measurements bore out the complaints. Users were frustrated with Instagram’s new feed designs and engaging with the app less. The usage data “isn’t great,” he said.

As far as recommendations go, Mosseri confirmed that the company would be decreasing this type of content but wouldn’t specify by how much. He added that there should be a high bar for content that’s being discovered and that people should be happy to see it.

“You should be delighted to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again.”