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Carefully curate who sees your content on Instagram with new feature 'favorites'

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Panithan Fakseemuang / 123RF

Instagram is already crushing the competition, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting complacent. To ensure that its 700 million monthly users stay engaged, Instagram is reportedly testing a new way to share posts with a smaller, more selective group of friends. It’s called favorites, and it’s meant to prompt users to post more by giving them more control over who ultimately sees their content. Think of how Snapchat allows you to decide who you send your Snaps to (because yes, Instagram is still, to some extent, copying Snapchat).

“People are trying to hack Instagram to create smaller audiences, and we’re trying to recognize that,” Robby Stein, product lead at Instagram, told The Verge. Indeed, the social media platform has observed some users creating private Instagram accounts separate from their more public presences that are only accessible to a small number of their closest, most carefully curated friends. Others would post photos to their existing accounts and delete them after a set amount of time (or set amount of likes).

But instead of encouraging users to go on with these hacked solutions, Instagram is hoping to address the problem head on. Favorites is currently being tested with a small proportion of users, the company said, though a broader rollout is expected in the next few months.

So how does it work? If you’re one of the few who are playing guinea pig to the favorites feature, you’ll see a new option to share an image or story post to your favorites. If you select this option, only the people you’ve demarcated as your favorites will be able to see this content. While the post will still show up on your feed, you’ll see a green “favorites” badge on the content, indicating that not everyone can actually view it.

Don’t worry — you won’t inadvertently offend anyone if you remove them from your list. No one will know when you add or take them out of your favorites, users can’t ask to be added to your favorites list.

“The best version of Instagram is one where you feel closer to the people you are connected to because you’re on Instagram together than you would on any other product in the world,” Stein concluded. “Even if you live all over the world, you feel like you’re with them. That’s something we want to drive as the core focus of the product.”

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