Recently, Facebook-owned Instagram changed how their timeline works, with no regard to how it’s product (that’s us, folks — we’re IG’s product) actually uses the service. They introduced a new “algorithm timeline” claiming to show you posts they assume you care most about. Reality is, it’s done 100% for advertisers to force more ads into your stream and deliver more and more photos you don’t want to see in order to generate revenue for Instagram. We haven’t even seen the full negative impact of the algorithm feed yet, I’m sure more is coming.

But there’s something more prescient here. Think about the service’s name. Instagram. Insta. It was born of a desire to feed, to you, the user (before we were a product) an instant feed of what’s going on in your friends and family’s lives the instant it was happening. In real time. That was a big part of its appeal. A super quick way to get a visual up to the internet for those who follow you to see what’s been going on, real time.

With Instagram’s recent change, that has completely died. Checking in on my Instagram feed today, I see posts at the top of the feed that are 16h, 18h, even 24h old (listed as 1d). Since the recent change, I have kind of stopped watching my live feed entirely, since it’s an exercise in frustration. I want to see what all my friends I’ve added to my feed are doing at that moment I check. Not what they did or posted 24 hours ago. The appeal of using Instagram has been lost, at least as a voyeur into your friends’ lives.

This is all done, of course, for revenue. Now you could argue, “hey, it’s a free service, don’t bitch”. That is true. But here’s some interesting math: I read somewhere that IG makes about $0.02 or something like that, per month, per active user. Adds up with millions and millions of active users per month, no doubt. But you know what would add up a helluva lot more? A paid user tier for Instagram. Not a pro business account to place ads, but a paid service account for users who don’t want FB/IG’s negative changes.

I’d happily pay an annual subscription of $25, $30, even $40 a year to use Instagram. Use it my way. Not their way to generate more ad revenue. That would translate into $2-$4 a month from me as a user. 1000–2000% increase in revenue. Unfortunately, this has never been Facebook’s modus, so I doubt it will come to Instagram (or Twitter, for that matter). But if I did pay $25, $40 a year for IG, I’d expect certain things:

  • zero advertisements
  • fully customizable timeline, including chronological order
  • advanced blocking tools
  • ability to block photos by region, type or even filter(s) used (lol!)
  • ability to download all the photos in my timeline or off-site storage of photos
  • advanced, easy reporting of problem accounts (spam, etc)
  • real customer service, with real people
  • much easier copyright infringing reporting.

But I won’t hold my breath. To Facebook (and Instagram), we are not people who have needs out of a service. We are a product to make money off of, passively.

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