In a move that makes you want to check the calendar, it’s reported that Facebook is about to change the name of Instagram to “Instagram From Facebook.” Why is Facebook suddenly so keen to remind users of the app who is in control, and is it a mistake?
The news was revealed a few days ago by The Information, who learned that employees of the social network had been briefed of the move. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the forthcoming change, explaining that the company wants to be “clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook.”
As noted by The Information, both Instagram and WhatsApp (soon to be “WhatsApp from Facebook”) have enjoyed a large degree of autonomy from their blue overlords, but both founders have departed in the last year. Furthermore, Zuckerberg is thought to be frustrated that Facebook is not consistently regarded as the cuddly provider of these two popular services and wants to remind users where to direct their love.
The move is also thought to be part of a broader plan to bring together Facebook’s various messaging platforms: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct.
Does Facebook genuinely need to remind users of Instagram that the app is actually owned and controlled by a soulless, trillion-dollar, global behemoth that’s lurching from crisis to crisis? Last month, it was fined a paltry $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission — a sum that was so low that Facebook’s shares spiked following the news — for permitting various privacy violations.
In the UK, concerns are growing about the vast sums of money being spent on political propaganda with those funding campaigns able to remain anonymous. Mental health is also a problem for the social media giant, with ever-mounting numbers of studies suggesting that young people are increasingly at risk. Mainly thanks to the different nature of the platform, Instagram has managed to avoid much of the negativity surrounding fake news and privacy problems.
Facebook Is Not Where the Cool Kids Hang Out
In their infancies, Facebook and Instagram were new and exciting. Now that they are both global giants, the sheen has worn off and Facebook, despite its continued growth, is not where the cool kids hang out anymore. Instagram might be owned by Facebook, but it still carries far more credibility. Perhaps Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook regain some of its kudos by borrowing some from Instagram. More likely, however, it risks further undermining Instagram’s remaining X-factor by shoving Facebook’s name under users’ noses.
At a time when Facebook’s reputation is increasingly tarnished, you have to wonder why it wants to risk scuppering those other brands under its command that so far have, to a degree, kept their reputations relatively clean. Personally, while I was disappointed when Instagram sold out, there was a certain amount of inevitability about it. Now, at a time when Facebook’s influence on global society feels far too strong, I don’t need further reminders of why I should despise Instagram more than I already do.
Of course, I could just uninstall it, but I’m not alone here. Like many users I speak to, there are parts of it that I enjoy, despite the deep-seated hatred. For many photographers, it’s a great way to showcase work and connect with an audience. I continue to post, even if my engagement has fallen off a cliff thanks to a lack of consistency and a reluctance to spend upwards of half an hour a day scrolling, liking, and interacting.
The love/hate attitude is a contradiction, but one that endures. It intrigues me as to how Instagram is almost universally despised and yet continues to be so incredibly successful. Does anyone out there consistently enjoy posting? A quick poll:
Instagram walks a tightrope. We love it and hate it, perhaps in equal measure. Sooner or later, it might make a change that tips that balance to the extent that users begin to look elsewhere. Adding “From Facebook” might not be it, but it does feel like a step in that direction, although I do wonder if Instagram has now become so big that its status is beyond threat. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.