For a long time, people were concerned about the "Following" tab on Instagram. On paper, it was harmless — a way to see what friends are up to. But many have been using it to stalk the activity of people they're following, including liked posts.
Fortunately, Instagram is removing the Following tab soon. The activity feed that displays what other users are liking, commenting on, and following will disappear very soon. Instagram quietly removed the feature off for some users back in August.
Bye, Following Tab
Instagram has now confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Following will go away this week not just for some, but for everyone. Once the change goes into effect, the "Heart" icon, inside which "You" and "Following" tabs can be found, will only display the user's own activity.
Vishal Shah, Instagram's product head, says the company decided to remove the tab to make things simpler, and also to remove a feature most people didn't know existed.
"People didn't always know that their activity is surfacing," said Shah. "So you have a case where it's not serving the use case you built if for, but it's also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up."
What Was It For?
The Following tab was notorious for openly sharing other users' actions within Instagram, which raised concerns around privacy. As TechCrunch notes, it was a place where "micro-cheating" was often caught — that is wherein a person in a relationship would be caught liking someone else's posts, engaging with an ex, or networking with potential "backup" partners on a regular basis.
No surprise, then, that the tab sometimes became the cause of some friendships and relationships ending. In some cases, a friend would tell their friend they were "busy" but get caught scrolling through Instagram, and thus lying about being busy.
The tab also became a way to monitor whom celebrities just followed, which sometimes would be taken as an indication of a new relationship. In general, though, people consider the Following tab as a creepy feature, and not one that offered any significant benefit to users in the context of discovering new content.
The Following tab, on paper, seems to be a great tool toward digging out cool accounts to follow, but since Instagram has become such a personal avenue, it has rendered the feature as an easily exploitable way to invade someone's privacy.
What are your thoughts on the Following tab? Do you think Instagram should have kept it? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts!