Instagram is ditching the "Following" tab in the Activity feed.
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.
These true tales of Instagram horror (names omitted to protect the horny) were all born out of the photo-sharing platform's “Following” tab — a feed that shows the likes, comments, follows of your friends. Thankfully for the irrepressibly lascivious, Instagram is scrapping that feature entirely. Beginning this week, the heart tab will display only your own activity.
Instagram launched its “Following” tab as an early feature back in 2011, long before its Explore tab debuted. At the time, Following was the best way to discover new content, since it would show you things your friends were liking. But that’s no longer true now that Explore has established itself as the primary means of discovering new stuff on Instagram.
Now that Following has disappeared, it’s likely few people will notice it’s gone. Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told BuzzFeed News it wasn't a feature that people used frequently and that the company suspected many users didn't know it existed. And for those that did, it was often a source of unwelcome surprises. “People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,” Shah said. “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."
“Simplicity was the driving factor,” Shah said of Instagram’s decision to remove the Following tab. Since the original founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left Instagram last year, reportedly over disputes with Facebook over-Facebookifying the app, Instagram has gotten a little, uh, busier. It added the dreaded “hamburger menu,” three lines in the top right corner that you tap on to reveal menu options and Facebook notifications — something Systrom and Krieger had long avoided. With the addition of new features like this, it’s a no-brainer to cleave off older less-used features like Following.
Despite Instagram’s decision to debut the hamburger menu, the company does seem intent on keeping the app as simple as it can. Just last week, it launched a standalone messaging app called Threads that is meant to send rapid-fire images back and forth to people on each other's close friends list, Snapchat-style. That Instagram launched this as a separate app instead of folding it into the main DM experience suggests the company is indeed reluctant to make things more complicated.
Some people will actually miss Instagram’s Following tab. On Reddit and Twitter, people who were unknowingly part of a test group for a Following tab-free Instagram lamented its disappearance.
But truthfully, we’re probably better off without it. Ultimately, we are but mortals driven by our base instincts. And that’s no easy thing when the cardinal rule of digital living is to conceal your parched behavior by avoiding exposure in the in likes and comments on your main account. Thou shalt not be horny on main. With the “Following” tab gone HPs (Horny People) will now be able to live their horny lives as they choose, without showcasing their horniness on main. Carry on, HPs.