Instagram is an incredibly popular iOS and Android app designed for sharing compelling photos, keeping up with friends, co-workers, niche interests and more; but it also features the little-known ability to keep up with some people more than they might like.
That feature is called the Following tab, which surprisingly the majority of Instagram users don’t seem to realize exists. And it’s going away forever.
What’s the Following Tab?
In case you’ve never used the feature, the Following tab is built into the Notifications tab and allows users to see exactly what other Instagram users are doing in real-time (like new users they’ve just started following, which photos they’re liking, comments they’ve replied to, and more).
The Following tab is a novel idea but it did represent a privacy issue – considering most users had no idea that others could see what they’re doing inside of the app, while they’re doing it.
That might stir up some drama at work or within monogamous relationships, depending on what watchers of the Following tab are expecting.
Why Is It Being Removed?
The feature has been around since 2011 but is being replaced entirely by the Explore tab, which gives users a more enjoyable and less privacy-invasive way to see and interact with new content.
According to BuzzFeed News, Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, says that it’s removing the feature due to streamlining of the app (and because people didn’t know about it or use it). “Simplicity was the driving factor,” Shah said.
Those who did use the Following tab were often bothered by some of the likes or comments that surfaced within it. And those who didn’t use the Following tab weren’t happy to find out about it.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,” Shah stated. “So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up.”
While we shouldn’t be participating in activities on Instagram that may be problematic in the first place, the world is probably better off without the Following tab for the sake of privacy in general.
When Is the Following Tab Going Away?
Hypebeast suggests that all users can expect to see the feature disabled this week. But it’s not clear if the Following tab will disappear into the abyss in a future app update, or if it will be blocked from being accessed server-side.
However, the Following tab is currently functional in Instagram version 113.0 at the time of writing. But if the Following tab is important to you, we recommend holding off from installing Instagram app updates just in case.