Instagram gets worse with dark patterns removed from Tiktok – TechCrunch

I, out of everyone, had a new UI on Instagram the day before. While the company hasn’t rolled it out to all users yet, these changes seem to align with the company’s intention to move from the original photo-sharing model between friends to the one pioneered by Tiktok: Show as much algorithmically targeted video content as possible and drive engagement wherever practical.

The new UI is clearly inspired by Tiktok, in a way that Instagram regularly “takes inspiration” from its more creative rivals, like when it copies Stamped Stories off of Snapchat. In this case, they took the opportunity to come up with a few bad habits and troubling choices, all quite obviously with the aim of forcing their metrics and forcing users to interact with the content. according to the terms of the application. I’ve asked Instagram about whether and when the new UI will be available to everyone, and haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll update if it does.

The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t mute or unmute the videos – sorry, Reels™ – by tapping on them. This has always been a user-friendly feature, because millions of people check their feeds in public places where loud cheers or flash music of a random sponsored video Of course that would be a nasty surprise for everyone within 20 feet. The safe assumption is that the sound is off until you touch it.

Now, tapping on something just pauses or unpauses it. Okay, it still makes it silent – why is that a problem? Because what they did was add friction to content consumption however you choose. If you want Instagram to be silent, you must put your entire phone on silent.

Imagine it is making noise. At least you can see that I trained my search site well. Image credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

I don’t know about you, but my phone is always on vibrate, but it’s not “silent”. I really don’t know what volume level my phone is set to at any given time, because some apps have their own volume levels, others take over the system, etc. Sometimes my music I went silent because I turned it down for some games (or, now, for Instagram). How many clicks of the volume down button will it take me to create this ambitious viral video, perhaps a Tiktok screenshot, shut up? Can not say. That’s why I appreciate defaulting to silent mode, or at least knowing that a single tap will silence the app without affecting the rest of the phone.

Dark patterns are often scarce lie than direction. Here Instagram wants you to not be inconvenienced by the process of muting a video so you can fully interact with it, be it Remix™ the Reel™ by tapping the little soundtrack button – another Instagram original! Instead of leaving the choice to you, they weight that choice on the aspect they want to see more of. It’s all outside the standard Meta playbook for manipulating user behavior.

Another major UI change is the switch from the classic infinite scrolling to a flip-by-item style, which is also very reminiscent of Tiktok. Obviously this was successful in that application, and if you’re focusing on video content, it makes some sense: when the video is playing, you want to show the full frame so you don’t miss the beginning. . With images it’s not nearly as important, you can spend your time scrolling through.

Why is this a dark pattern? Again, it’s about controlling how you experience the content. In an infinitely scrolling feed, it feels like a timeline, a long line that you’re reviewing. You can allow the posts to be compressed and stop it with your finger when you see something interesting or a friend’s post rather than a meme account.

With scrolling, you’re forced to fully interact with each image or video, if only for a fraction of a second, before continuing. Again, it’s not that you can’t go ahead quickly, it’s that Instagram is putting its finger on the balance: each piece of content now has a new minimum engagement level, a level that they choose instead of the user. It’s not a scam – it just gives you the choice to stop at every item, no other options.

Screenshot of the UI changes in the Instagram app. I don’t follow any of these accounts, although I do like the look of Magnus.

This makes particular sense when it comes to ads, which in my new UI appear reliably like every 4th item starting with the second. Posts 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, etc are all ads to me (I asked if this is common), and that’s before suggested posts I’ll be in seconds slice. Now look at the previous feature and you’ll see that you can no longer simply zoom through an ad – this isn’t really possible in the app! While in the past you may have been in a hurry to scroll through, ads skimming your vision too quickly to register, now 100% of the time ads will take up your entire screen until you touch the screen to remove it.

Think about that. This change is like going from banner to pop-up – no one stops you from accessing the content but requires you to do something to get around it. Again, you can still quickly scroll through your feed, but what used to be just a tap of a finger can now take 5 or 6. (Stories already have this feature, but at least you’re just touching).

What Instagram is interested in here is that by the time you’re interested in figuring out what a post is, ad or not, the story is already established and you’ve been watching the content long enough to inflate some. complex eyeball index. And that’s doubly true for “recommended” posts that currently have no indicator except the “follow” button next to the account name.

In the past it would say “Recommended for you” or something at the top so you know from the start that this isn’t your friend’s dog, it’s some aggregator (there are many! ) Trying to build an audience. Now you see the content first, then the little sign that you’ve never seen this account in your life. Luckily, you can still get into the dot menu to “snooze” suggested posts for 30 days at a time – I’m just waiting for them to power down that.

One last little thing that Instagram does is, when you get to the bottom of your organic content, the bottom half of the screen is the top half of a secret post. I can’t remember when this started, but it’s a lie with this idea that they want you to rest when you’re “done”. They obviously want you to move on, that’s why “see older posts” is very small and the default action is “view algorithmically generated content”. It doesn’t say “want to see some recommended videos?” it just makes that choice stand out.

All of this, on the one hand, pushes Instagram closer to Tiktok and overall tighter control over the user experience. I understand that the Instagram product team thinks that imitating whatever app is more popular than they are at the moment is a way to survive, but the models they have adopted here are detrimental to the Instagram experience that people have. know and enjoy. I’m not saying never change, but… maybe don’t change in such an obviously bad way, you know?

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