Meta – formerly Facebook – has a long history of imitating the popular social media apps it doesn't buy outright, and its latest inspiration is clearly TikTok. Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly very worried by TikTok's popularity, particularly among the younger demographic advertisers would really like to reach.
To some, Meta's imitation attempts are cute, like someone with a crush on you getting the same kind of sweater. But to me it feels more like a body snatchers kind of deal where Meta isn't just inspired by you but moves into your house and changes the locks.
That's how Instagram feels right now. And I'm not the only one. Things are so bad I'm in agreement with Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, both of whom have publicly urged Meta to stop trying to make Instagram into a TikTok clone.
It's been a problem for a while, but it seems to have reached critical mass this week with the news that almost all new videos posted to Instagram will become TikTok-style Reels whether you want them to be or not.
As Kylie Jenner posted the other day: "Make Instagram Instagram again (Stop trying to be tiktok I just want to see cute photos of my friends). Sincerely, everyone."
Videos are now Reels and likes are now florps
Meta isn't the only social network to completely ignore what its users want in order to push whatever it thinks will keep its investors happy. In a famous parody post (opens in new tab) by actioncookbook back in 2016, Twitter responds to users saying "you're alienating the people who actually use your products" with "likes are now florps" and "timeline goes sideways." Opening my Insta these days feels very much like Likes have become Florps.
Most of my Insta-friends are deeply unhappy with the way the app is going. What used to be a brilliant way to keep up with your pals is now absolutely stuffed with recommended content as well as ads, a torrent of unwanted content drowning out the people I actually want to hear from. It feels very like Facebook in that respect, a social network I now find impossible to use without installing all kinds of third-party add-ons to stop Meta from messing with my feed.
I'm sure Meta knows what it's doing and has the metrics to demonstrate that, by turning likes into florps, it's maximising exposure and driving advertising conversions. But as a user, Instagram feels less and less like Instagram with each new supposed improvement, and it's losing what made it good in the first place. The more like TikTok Instagram becomes, the less I want to spend any time there – and over 130,000 people feel the same, signing a petition (opens in new tab) echoing Jenner: Make Instagram Instagram Again!