Instagram is eliminating its “following” tab amid privacy concerns from users who warn the feature is being used as a means to stalk people rather than assist with discovering new accounts.
The Following tab allowed users to view what their friends and acquaintances have recently liked and who they are following on the platform, facilitating users’ ability to stalk activities of celebrities or their crushes and monitor whether their spouses are cheating.
While the tab served to bring more transparency to users’ online lives, “it was often a place where “micro-cheating” activity was caught,” TechCrunch notes. “That is, it could reveal when a person in a committed relationship was spending just a little too much time liking someone else’s posts, engaging with an ex’s content, or networking with a series of potential ‘backup partners’ on a regular basis.”
Buzzfeed reporter Katie Notopoulos first reported on Instagram’s modification to the photo-sharing platform, detailing numerous instances of people’s private activities that were outed because of the Following tab.
“A Catholic priest notices a fellow priest liking gay porn star pics on Instagram. A man receives a DM from his ex wondering why he’s liking photos of someone who gave her gonorrhea. A mother notices the husband of a fellow mom liking bikini model photos. A daughter catches her own father liking cheesecake pinup photos,” Notopoulos writes.
Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, surmised most Instagram users won’t notice the tab is gone because most never realized it existed, with the exception of those who were compromised by the feature.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,” Shah told Buzzfeed. “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.”
However, Instagram users are now reportedly complaining about the tab’s removal on Twitter and Reddit.
While Instagram announced the Following tab would be removed Wednesday and will out changes on the platform throughout the week, users noticed the tech company began fading out the feature back in August and aired their dismay about its removal on Reddit.
Now that the tab has been removed, the heart icon, which currently contains an activity feed for “You” and “Following,” will only display your own activity.
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