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Instagram accidentally wrecks the news feed by pushing out a tap-to-navigate test

Image used with permission by copyright holder

An Instagram test temporarily created a news feed that felt more like Stories, much to the frustration of users. On Thursday, December 27, Instagram users shared the outrage at a re-designed news feed that requires users to tap through posts — similar to Stories — instead of scrolling through the feed. Instagram says the feature was supposed to be a test among a small group of users that inadvertently launched to a wider user base.

Instagram is currently testing an option that makes the news feed feel more like Stories, where users tap the screen to move through posts, instead of scrolling through the feed. A tap moves through each post individually, while scrolling moves to see the full text and comments with the post. Unlike Stories, the news feed test doesn’t use the full screen and still shares a similar look with an entirely different way to navigate.

In a tweet, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri said that the feature “was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we first anticipated.” Instagram has since restored the previous news feed, though some users may still need to close out of the app and re-open for the update to take effect.

While only a test that went wider than expected, Instagram users shared their outrage over the new design. Some users threatened to delete the app, while others pointed out there was an ad after every five taps. Others said the update forced more time and attention on each image.

Despite the backlash, Instagram says it’s still testing the feature, while a similar feature has been in testing since at least October. The earlier test, however, appears to be designed for the Explore section, not Instagram’s news feed. The test brings a more Stories-like feel to the Explore feed as the full-screen, slideshow-style posts continue to gain traction on the network. Instagram has been quiet about the reasons behind the test, but the tap-style browsing ensures users see all of a single image at once.

Instagram users have often proven to be resistant to major changes — like when Instagram switched from the chronological feed to an algorithm-based one. With the backlash to accidental rollout, maybe Instagram won’t bring the feature to more users.

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