Instagram has added a new feature to their Stories platform. Now, you can identify new stories or people to follow based on your location. You can already search through the Explore tab, but this new feature will determine what you want to look at based on where you are. For example, if you’re in New York City and you hashtag a concert, Instagram will make suggestions for you. I have a couple of possible concerns with this, but I’d like to explore this a little bit more first. Is this a good idea? Will it give you what you’re looking for? Right now, if I open the Explore tab, I’m getting fun basketball videos. Presumably because I follow the NBA and sports based accounts?
I often use the Explore tab to see what is happening in the world of Instagram, but I would say that most of the accounts that it presents for me aren’t of interest to me. Instagram states: “posts are selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like. You may also see video channels, which can include posts from a mixture of hand-picked and automatically sourced accounts based on topics we think you’ll enjoy.” That being said, would this update be a way to qualify what I want to see?
Another interesting feature of this update is that you can search for locations around the world. So if you want to see what’s happening somewhere in the world, you can do that by searching for location. On one hand, I see this as a really neat way to globe-trot, for lack of a better term. Giving you the ability to see places that you might not otherwise get to see. It’s an interesting learning tool from that perspective, but no one uses Instagram for that reason, right? On the other hand, I can see this as a slippery slope. Could this turn into more of a “news” feature than a fun way to search for content? Or maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe this will help news agencies get the information out that they need.
A major concern I can see with all of this is the idea of privacy. Will this automatically give Instagram my location in real time? And is this something that I want to share with everyone? They allege that you can turn this feature off by doing the following: “if you want to use a location or hashtag sticker but don’t want your story to appear on Explore, tap the X on your stories viewer list.” If it works, that’s great. The new feature is based on the use of geolocation and hashtag stickers. So if you’re not using those, then your content can’t be identified by location, so I guess you’re ok?
I have voiced my concern over how much Instagram is changing. Mostly because I think it’s getting away from it’s original purpose. I have grown to enjoy Stories every now and again. But it’s still not my favourite way to look at content. That being said, I kind of like the idea that you can search by location. If there is a festival or sporting event that you wanted to be apart of, but couldn’t, this might help you with that experience. Technology has changed so much over the years that it’s always bringing us closer together. I think that’s what Instagram is trying with this most recent update. Maybe it’s the way I’m looking at this particular update, but I think I like this one more than some of their other recent updates.