What an age we live in: the meteoric evolution of the information superhighway has culminated in a Facebook-owned walled garden that retains its original features as a photo- and video-sharing platform, and so delivers substantive information as pictures of text that cannot be copy-pasted or searched for.
The platform explicitly bans hyperlinking to ANY resource outside of Instagram, except from the bio section of user accounts, forcing purveyors of information to entice content consumers to follow the "link in bio," of which there can only be one.
Users can "save" posts to custom-named "collections" within the platform, but are intentionally prevented from exporting these collections, or indeed saving any post to their local machine in its original format, short of screenshotting in the mobile app, or using browser extensions or digging into devtools on desktop.
You can't sort comments by anything. Time, votes (sorry, "likes"), length -- nope, you're stuck with whatever inscrutable, undocumented order "the algorithm" has chosen to present to you, annealed out of some black-box ranking procedure based on various engagement metrics.
You can't create comment threads: all levels of replies to a comment pile up in the same indent level, forcing the reader to mentally build conversation threads by reading username tags and scrolling up and down while repeatedly clicking "view more replies." This undermines any hope of substantive discourse about whatever serious issue is addressed by the seven-panel meticulously designed infographic rife with unsupported claims, gross oversimplifications, and handwriting fonts.
Oh, and roughly every fifth post or story is a paid ad, just to remind you that you're the product. (Wherever the $7 billion and rising of quarterly revenue is going , their comment-system team evidently isn't getting much of it.)
Instagram becoming an "information powerhouse" is a slap to the face of information accuracy, accessibility, and credibility.
The thing is, it was never designed for discussion or politics - you might almost say it was designed against politics, especially by preventing virality and focusing on images rather than text.
However, the normal venues for politics having been rendered unusable, it's now become totalising; all communications channels will tend towards politics all the time.
This will continue until either sanity is restored and the miscreants permanently removed from the political arena, which seems very unlikely; they win and get opposition effectively criminialised, which also seems unlikely (although this is what happened in Hong Kong); or some exogenous event happens like 9/11 and the country can unify against external enemies rather than internal ones.
> ...some exogenous event happens like 9/11 and the country can unify against external enemies rather than internal ones.
That never happened. Muslim and Sikh Americans, and anybody who could mistakenly pass for them, north African or middle eastern, were treated as internal enemies by the government, its private contractors and by "fellow" american citizens. If you felt unity in that moment, then I surmise that islamaphobia didn't impact your friends and family. I did not experience a unified country after 9/11.
Instagram always felt like it was specifically designed to just get away from Facebook/twitter style discussions. Yes, there's a comments section, but 99%+ is hidden "below the fold". Stories are comments free (you can DM the poster, but 15 people can't start a discussion on the topic unless it's a linked post, which tbf is a majority of story content)
Instagram was the only "real" social media I was engaging with (besides LinkedIn, I guess?) specifically because of this. I could still keep up with (most) of my friends goings on but without my mother explaining how her racist ideas weren't actually racist in 5 paragraph essay form. I could see dank memes, and babies making cakes and generally have fun.
Then the world caught fire. The politics came from Instagram HARD. And the more time I spend on it (while myself feeling more politically engaged) the more I'm recognizing its shortcomings. It's not a placid information farm with a cute cat facade anymore. It's the same putrid swamp as everywhere else, but you have to have an image (or an image of text) associated with whatever you're trying to say.
TL;dr- Instagram users skew "younger", so I like it more than Twitter or Facebook. Other people seem to agree.
Have you read the comments on Instagram? The vast, vast majority of comments and comment impressions are essentially just "+1" or @-mentions, typically used in lieu private sharing.
It's the 2020s internet equivalent of walking around a museum with friends, repeatedly telling them about an absent third party, "so and so would just LOVE this". It's an interesting form of signaling that I think Instagram has cultivated really well.
If you look at IG comments through this lens, ranking or sorting is basically unnecessary.
I was invested heavily in Instagram as my active social media fix for two years. This was spurred by a comment on HN and similar to what is mentioned here - it was deemed to be a fun, positive and happy virtual party.
And it was. For a while. Soon enough, the advertisements and the activism took over. People only posted in Stories, and the inevitable race-to-the-bottom to have the highest followers/likes took over. A friend, who ran fitness gigs on the side, told me how a top branded sports marketer were willing to sponsor his shoes for a certain number of follows and likes on his post, with their brand mentions. Somehow all these appears to be a perverted, caricature of an idealistic life.
I got sick of it and i haven’t used it since the beginning of this year. I understand that as I grow older, part of this is feeded by cynicism of having seen similar patterns in the past, starting with IRC chat rooms to whatever is the trend this year. But, the in-your-face commercialisation and incentives for users to keep generating content forever all appears very dystopian to me.
I was also invested heavily and still am a little bit even if my usage is decreasing.
Wow I loved instagram, first the filters that made people try to be artsy managing to distract people from the fact that early phone cameras had terrible quality.
Then there were stories, while unfortunately ripped off Snapchat, they did a great job with it and it fit right in with the image first social network. People started posting stuff simpler than the perfect life of their feed.
When people started complaining about tons of ads, I didn't have them, I quickly discovered I was in some AB test, eventually they probably saw how ads were perfoming well now we all have them, holy shit its a lot of ads.
Now its a cesspool of ads, marketing, activism, they moved the notifications tab out of the navigation bar to have space for a shopping tab, people are marketing their hustles, trying to build up personal brands, its so used that businesses almost require an instagram presence, signal to noise ratio is getting worse by the hour.
I still use it quite a bit because it helps me keep up with lots of people from back home and other places I've lived but as it floods with ads people share less and less personal stuff to, feels like a post-social media age is going to come eventually.
I only use a third party app to browse Instagram, which both blocks advertisements and stories. I keep the main app on my phone and only use it to create posts of my own. Whenever I open it I'm amazed at the sheer quantity of nonsense that's hurled at the user. I have no idea how people can put up with it.
This type of comment feels a lot like "I knew of the band before they made it big". I'm not disagreeing with your perception as I think it applies to the entire internet as a whole. It's exclusionary and selfish and unfair but I still think the internet was better before all these people replaced cable TV with internet consumption devices...
I've noticed this as well. I stopped doing any engagement on Facebook and switched to Instagram (you don't need to tell me about who owns Instagram, I already know) a years ago and really loved it. I do mostly post to Stories because I had been using Snapchat as well and Stories filled the Snapchat void but for a bigger audience (my Snapchats were never private or R Rated, just the normal stuff people post to Instagram stories), and because I perpetually feel like my stuff isn't good enough/important enough to post to main Instagram. I feel like people can click and watch my stories if they want, and I don't spam their feeds with regular Instagram photos.
Back to the current state of Instagram. People are nonstop posting stories that are just Twitter screenshots, or walls of text, or both. You can click through 20 of someone's stories and it's all just text.
I was never under any illusion that people posting perfect lives using certain brands on Instagram were legitimate and so that's not new or disillusioning. I largely ignore that and even de-rate brands I see on Instagram stories/photos mentally. Other people on these comments posted about this, but largely that's just rose tinted glasses, "viral" or sponsored advertisements in photos to make it not look like it's an advertisement has been happening since insta-time immemorial.
But, all the text I'm seeing, that's a major change and it's very annoying.
Like reddit, the website is made awful to encourage you to use the app; you can pinch-zoom images on the app. Or, like us, DOM inspector -> delete empty element over image -> right-click open in new window.
Yeah, I really have to agree with this. Working with designers and PMs in my day job makes it clear that there's an experience put together on Instagram and it's not some Flickr alternative. Things are made to be fixed res and laid out as so by design.
An experience designed by designers that was then put through the wringer so that it accomplished marketing and business needs initially not present. Rarely do designs not change as they move through the development/deployment pipeline.
Then designs are iterated in search of better or higher X, for whatever X business is optimizing for at that time.
I don't use IG, nor any social media, and I have never had a desire to do so but this statement underscores just how overtly and far reaching the term 'activism' is used these days:
> And then in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor's killings, it was primed not just for information, but activism.
Spamming peoples feeds or posts with your rants is hardly activism, it's easily ignored/filtered is and never as impactful as if you actually got active on the ground because you will NEVER get a true grasp of the situation behind a keyboard--these situations are often wrought with confusion.
This is my main gripe with the so-called SJW forms of 'activism,' whose main form of action is bringing about 'awareness' on social media platforms and engaging in never-ending feuds Online that amount to nothing than a waste of time and energy. And then if they do attend in person refuse to engage with the parties they oppose in open discourse and will seek to 'cancel' the other side. This has had so many dire implications, be it in academia to other things like actors and their career prospects.
It's hard for me to think that people honestly think that posting about an issue is as valid as actually being on the ground and involved in the process in order to try and (ideally) come up with alternative solutions to the problems they're trying to solve with those who have also come out to manifest. In this case Police Brutality, that as unpopular as it might seem is not solely limited to just the Black Community, but has been pervasive and incredibly outward in heavy-handedness since 9-11 under these false pretenses of Terrorism. People seem to forget that during the Occupy movement the same amount of violence was being used against what were mainly a white, college educated, (lower to mid) middle class cohort. They, too were deemed terrorist groups and cells for dissent and were infiltrated by Intelligence Agencies. 
And while I'm glad many people finally saw this for what it is, as this time Police violence was used against journalists and innocent bystanders alike, and in the case with Portland and Seattle you have unmarked vehicles essentially kidnapping people, you get a real taste what activists of all leanings have seen all along. I hardly see what some celebrity posting on IG with a sign has to do with activism. Moreover, we saw how quickly they are to retract it if they face scrutiny, during the HK's National Security Law limbo Billie Eilish tweeted out a message in support of HK, only to remove it moments later when the Wumao Army came down on her and she saw some backlash, showing just how feckless and entirely pointless these kind of affairs really are for even 'influencers.'
Awareness does matter, as does agreement in the same set of facts. And sadly most people, celebrities or not, do not have the time for the deeper activism you talk about and usually do not have the same mental
model of what the problem is if it exists at all.
And having gone through that activism in the UK back in day, from grassroots meetings to media and then advocacy to policy makers, what really really helps is a movement - ordinary people making a noise. And a noise on twitter is heard in the corridors of power today (tomorrow it may change.)
So if you want something to change at a local or national level, social media is a big part of your arsenal (but I agree not the whole part)
> And a noise on twitter is heard in the corridors of power today (tomorrow it may change.)
And is listened by who? Other social media users who are equally as unlikely to get involved? This is what happened during the Blueleaks drop in my opinion.
Moreover, what is the turn-around in the news-cycle today for even 'newsworthy' events, especially when calamity and Rage are the plats du jour by the Media and served by the 100s a day.
I highly doubt you can attribute seeing police budgets get slashed if it weren't for the mass protests, and rioting in the US and the wide-spread violence we saw that followed. Claiming that Social Media's role to be anything but act as a source of the real-time video footage of these events would be really over-reaching its impact. I mean even now, as Portland has removed DHS officers, what can you say the Social Media crowds did to ensure that occurred, because it was mainly a collective of present Human will that did that from what I've seen. I'm open to be convinced, mind you, as I think IF Social Media could fulfill its potential it could be a very useful tool in Activism, instead it just seems like another apparatus of the Panopticon. Which if they can infiltrate a Telegram channel , just imagine what they can do on open non-encrypted mediums like Facebook/IG etc...
The FBI has opened an investigation into Breonna Taylor's murder. The Redskins are changing their name. Many police departments are cutting budgets and in some cases replacing those police officers with social workers.
That never would have happened without the awareness brought to those and similar issues by social media. You can dismiss it as "SJW" echo chambers, but it appears to be working, perhaps to your chagrin.
> The FBI has opened an investigation into Breonna Taylor's murder. The Redskins are changing their name. Many police departments are cutting budgets and in some cases replacing those police officers with social workers.
How exactly is this the case; I keep seeing attributions to these events that have no real basis or clear definitive metrics for doing it. I really want to believe its true, but I'd say the potential of another wave of wide-spread protests in the US (and Corona cases that follow) as what was seen for Floyd is what did everything you mentioned with the exception of the Redskins name change, which quite honestly is about as useful as Social Media 'change' can really achieve in my view. Outrage culture can spill-over into entertainment, and academia really well, as I mentioned in my earlier post.
I'm asking you to provide a very clear and defintive way to measure what you are describing, as in provide sources for your claims, which would be along the lines of 'on x date poster Y made this post and as a DIRECT result of this event this favourable action took place.' Its very simple to explain, but a lot harder to understand from my position to see how exactly this takes place without this. Because I can draw a straight line from the DHS being booted after people did this .
That's what 65 days of continual activist protests did, that then resumed as peaceful demonstrations for their cause only AFTER the DHS left. This could be seen in other other BLM protest in major cities, that were escalated because of Police.
I don't even know what that means, but I fear this is the typical reaction when someone is confronted with trying to substantiate such a bold claim and cannot really do so, that is start to try and deviate from the points made with entirely irrelevant sensationalism. I asked you to provide substantial evidence for your claim.
Sealioning - A subtle form of trolling involving "bad-faith" questions. You disingenuously frame your conversation as a sincere request to be enlightened, placing the burden of educating you entirely on the other party. If your bait is successful, the other party may engage, painstakingly laying out their logic and evidence in the false hope of helping someone learn. In fact you are attempting to harass or waste the time of the other party, and have no intention of truly entertaining their point of view. Instead, you react to each piece of information by misinterpreting it or requesting further clarification, ad nauseum. The name "sea-lioning" comes from a Wondermark comic strip.
You are asking me to educate you when you could just look at current events. If you're asking me to say "Protest X on Y date led to Z legislation/budget/change" then you know that's impossible, and in fact I can perhaps only think of a handful of times in U.S. history that this could be done. One has to look at the totality of the circumstances. I can confidently say, of course, that none of these changes would have happened without social media awareness leading to protests leading to action, and the social media awareness is close enough in the chain to be considered proximate cause. But, based on your lines of questioning and inquiry in your other comments, I'm guessing nothing will be able to convince you of this. See generally, from the definition of sealioning, "involving 'bad-faith' questions."
> You are asking me to educate you when you could just look at current events.
Ok, I see we're going no where and we're at the pointing fingers for asking the 'wrong questions' phase. I'll just ask one simple question then: for being such a strong advocate of this system, which I still refuse to call activism, have you gotten involved in this process and bring about change to your community?
And if so, how? What are the impacts of your involvement, and how have they been shaped and formed from your presence on Social Media?
Because if you saw the video I posted (specifically 2:52) you will see a Black Mother advocating that her actual physical presence in the previously named 'Wall of Moms' protesting against Federal DHS agents and were beaten and gassed as a result  is what will ensure that her children or grandchildren may not have to do so in the Future. I'd argue that kind of resolve only comes about when you are amongst like minded individuals, of all walks of Life, in pursuit of a commonly held goal. A keyboard and a screen will never be a replacement for that level of change.
It's not that I dispute that there are forms of 'Hactivism,' DDOS attacks against Megacorps, things like the Panama papers/Blueleaks and Politically aligned trading/shorting comes to mind, but its just that I fail to see how that has anything to do let alone be achieved with what you've described thus far.
Hi, can you show me some metrics on the mother about whom you're speaking and the claim that their "children or grandchildren may not have to do so in the [f]uture." You seem awfully confident about that without any data to back it up, despite asking me for metrics on a similar claim I made. I hope that helps hold up a mirror to illustrate the difference between the burden of proof you place on others and the (lack of) burden of proof you place on yourself for the same things. (For the record I agree with the video, just illustrating the disconnect you seem to be showing).
Past that, you're definitely conflating typing on a keyboard with lacking resolve, and showing up with having resolve. I've been to plenty of protests with people milling around on the outskirts not really doing anything, and seen plenty of people bring the fire on social media.
Not that it matters for this at all, but because of social media I have become aware of opportunities to go out and use my skills to observe and film protests and that film has been used as evidence of police brutality that has helped get officers doing brutalizing removed from their posts. I don't want to get more specific than that here, and again it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this.
> Spamming peoples feeds or posts with your rants is hardly activism, it's easily ignored/filtered is and never as impactful as if you actually got active on the ground because you will NEVER get a true grasp of the situation behind a keyboard--these situations are often wrought with confusion.
I'm all for being a cynic.
I can acknowledge it is marvelous how anonymous-to-us Instagram accounts have absolutely steered energy and awareness over the past two months.
People that want to be helpful are being steered into something more helpful than whatever paternal vicariously offended nonsense they would have come up with on their own.
In the past few decades, the majority power or people with the power to change anything felt too marginalized to participate in the civil rights issues. Whether it was Occupy or minority issues awareness groups. Regarding police brutality, in the past the best thing municipalities came up with was independent oversight agencies which were just as useless and the internal ones. Now we have state level changes that create webs of liability, practically overnight, because of how the energy is being steered in a more collaborative and cohesive way.
This has nothing to do with cynicism, if anything I feel its more an issue of uncaptured gains as Social Media has the potential to do so much more, but is marred with the constraints that it has, which includes but is not limited to mass-surveillance.
> I can acknowledge it is marvelous how anonymous-to-us Instagram accounts have absolutely steered energy and awareness over the past two months.
How so, again, I'm open to the idea of this being the case, I just personally fail to do so as I'm not a user.
> Now we have state level changes that create webs of liability, practically overnight, because of how the energy is being steered in a more collaborative and cohesive way.
And you attribute this to Social Media presence and pressure? I mean, I cannot help but see this is the equivalent of how people get outraged by Trump's tweets.
I attribute it to collaborative and cohesive directing of energy.
If you are not a user then it is not possible for you to see the ephemeral stories, where the majority of the content is shared. The static posts you might be aware of, and their divisive comment threads, are largely ignored.
You might not be able to see the longer format IGTV stories that people spend a lot of time consuming.
What's different is that this is its own platform now, and its growth required no advertisement. It is just here. People have been considering Instagram a play-thing for hipsters for an entire decade, and they were incorrect for most of that decade. The GUI painted over a much more robust system, which I know you are aware of and are vigilant about. That system is being used productively right now.
There are productive conversations from accounts about disenfranchised groups towards "SJWs" about what actually is or isn't a concern and focus on police liability issues, instead of just the reaction to how often a video of black person's interaction with the police goes viral, when theoretically there should be thousands more videos burned into our mind regardless of the demographic proportions.
The pressure of sharing the numbers to contact in any municipality, going viral in the stories all day definitely has contributed.
The web of the social graph showing people in the profession of law enforcement what the people are thinking, the focus on the District Attorney's and the Mayor and Governors instead of just an individual officer has absolutely caused change. Police are getting fired for less egregious actions over the last two months. The legislatures in several states have implemented comprehensive reforms. Things that were always at their discretion.
Do you want to quantify it? It's not possible, you have to be on the network. But just consider, what if I'm telling you about something important?
> I attribute it to collaborative and cohesive directing of energy.
> You might not be able to see the longer format IGTV stories that people spend a lot of time consuming.
So, propaganda? I mean, having been an activist I'm aware of its utility, so this may be a missing component at making people listen through emotive means of story-telling otherwise lost in print media alone.
> That system is being used productively right now.
That is possible, I'm asking how.
> The web of the social graph showing people in the profession of law enforcement what the people are thinking, the focus on the District Attorney's and the Mayor and Governors instead of just an individual officer has absolutely caused change. Police are getting fired for less egregious actions over the last two months. The legislatures in several states have implemented comprehensive reforms. Things that were always at their discretion.
This provides context, but I think you ultimately come to the conclusion I have on your own with this following statement:
> Do you want to quantify it? It's not possible, you have to be on the network.
> But just consider, what if I'm telling you about something important?
I have no doubt it's important, I've been a victim of police abuse due to my a-politcal nature and what that entails when trying to bring about alternatives that don't require State approval, or when I went to demos only to be forced into the broken Court system that essentially shrugs its shoulders at the spread amount of Civil Rights Abuse, as serves as the only avenue for legal redress from violence at the hand of the State.
I just fear that what we're seeing has become a form of vicariously-felt, but dopamine addicting, voyeuristic practice and calling it 'activism,' wherein people feel they're involved in the process instead of actually making the effort to make full use of this time where Change can actually can occur in their Community. Worst yet, somehow they're being lauded for essentially trying to prove a negative. Furthermore, FB/IG can take solace in knowing their platform is the more desirable to use, and ints increasing its Marketshare, which they can then leverage for its own end.
I guess I'm jaded from all of the cancel culture and the toxic tribalism and shaming that was typical prior to these 'last two months,' but I remain cautiously optimistic that something positive does occur from what you said is occurring. It's just that right now, I'm not simply convinced.
But I am see meaningful results, whereas Occupy got nowhere. Other BLM activism got nowhere.
I would be very skeptical of the self proclaimed woke people, who appeared because .... he cried for his mom? Sports were cancelled?
But because they can't get a boozy brunch, they are paying attention and suddenly, in some municipalities, things are changing for law enforcement, and the word of that and what is possible is spreading to others.
Agreed, in terms of overall progress which is why I turned down any offers to come be a part of their events or come do workshops when it was happening. Years later I got to hear about the horrible details from within from one of its more notable and disenfranchised OWLA movement member when we worked together on a CLIM COLAB project for MIT.
But what it did reveal was that this was a class-based issue, not a racially profiled one. And that despite all the talking points of equality the US is actually as a class-based Society with an Oligarchical Ruling Class. University degrees and the Institutions have been the gate-keeping to what remains of the Middle class, so it's been an absolute joy to see it be disrupted by COVID as it has had to restructure itself to adapt, and many are questioning the viability of its existence when so many ED-tech solution are available now, after countless scandals and evidence of deep corruption.
> I would be very skeptical of the self proclaimed woke people...
Agreed, much of whom gravitate to Social Media platforms to re-enforce those ideals and beliefs amongst other 'woksters' in what is a self-affirming (echo-chamber) feedback loop. I contend that if that effort were placed to actual activist pursuits we'd be in a much better position in the World, if you say its occurring I'll have to conclude my participation in this conversation with an optimistic, but highly cautious: we shall see.
The main “feature” of Instagram was that it was free of politics, tribalism, and the news cycle. Then came the activists looking to leverage the captive audiences and the attention of their friend circles for their cause. This change invited those of all causes and parties to participate, because to not do so would be to accept a marketing disadvantage.
The political marketing war escalated quickly. Now Instagram has turned into the same cesspool other platforms have - whether it is YouTube or Twitter or Reddit or Facebook - with advanced campaigning, mass manipulation, etc. Like Twitter, it suffers due to the limited format - images allow for a charged newsbite and no nuance whatsoever. I’m starting to think any centralized platform that is very open to the public or doesn’t ban politics will ultimately decay once weaponized.