In the immortal words of Derek Zoolander (who would have definitely loved Instagram), “who am I?”
Instagram is considering yet another big change to its platform. It is working on a prototype of the Stories feed that scrolls vertically, like TikTok.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, confirmed the new project to TechCrunch, which first reported the story after developer Alexander Puzzi posted a photo of the prototype on Twitter.
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) February 2, 2021
Puzzi told TechCrunch that he found the option while examining Instagram’s backend code and that it’s not live yet.
A Facebook company spokesperson also confirmed the feature to Mashable over email, stressing that it is in the nascent stages of development.
“This is an early prototype and is not functional. This is not something we’re currently testing on Instagram,” the Facebook spokesperson said.
Currently, users scroll Instagram stories horizontally, tapping or swiping the right side of the screen to move forward or the left side to go backward. In contrast, TikTok’s feed is vertical, so users swipe up to get to the next piece of content. Not so coincidentally, Instagram’s dedicated Reels feed (Reels is Instagram’s version of TikTok) is vertically oriented, as is its main posts feed.
Re-orienting Storie’s scrolling isn’t the only big change potentially coming to Instagram. It also follows the platform’s major home screen redesign from less than three months ago. In that change, Instagram created the Reels tab and put it literally front and center. The change was a transparent attempt to give Reels a boost after people were mostly just confused about the new format.
Instagram is reportedly also considering doing away with the ability to share feed posts to stories. This would be another significant change to the platform, as stories have become the major way people share content from other users in their profiles.
What’s with all the tinkering, Instagram? It’s almost like the attempts to import TikTok’s whole short-form viral video content ~thing~ into a platform with the pre-existing purpose of sharing photos aren’t going as easily as planned!
As TechCrunch points out, the vertical format of Stories could be a first step to unifying Instagram’s video content. Currently, posts, stories, Reels, and IGTV all host videos. There are too many options, and then too many redundant needs to re-share content into multiple parts of Instagram.
Plus, if Stories get closer to the same format as Reels, it’s possible that they could eventually merge into one feed. This would send more people to Reels, which is great from an advertising perspective since Reels generates an endless amount of mindlessly consumable content — not just content from the people you follow.
In its attempts to keep up with TikTok, is Instagram losing itself? Nah, that happened long ago.