Head of Instagram Explains Change to Feed That Caused Uproar

Instagram shocked users Thursday when it rolled out new tap-to-advance feature that allows users to scroll through their feeds horizontally rather than vertically, but the controversial automatic update was reportedly an accident.

Adam Mosseri, who was recently appointed head of Instagram by Facebook, responded to user complaints that quickly overtook Twitter Thursday morning explaining that the new scrolling method, which mimicked the way in which users scroll through Instagram Stories, was supposed to be a test that only affected a handful of users.

“That was supposed to be a very small test that went broad by accident. Should be fixed now. If you're still seeing it simply restart the app,” he tweeted, adding in a second tweet that the test “went to a few orders of magnitude more people than intended.”

“Sorry for the confusion! Always trying new ideas, usually with a much smaller number of people,” he said in a third tweet.

Instagram users around the world had begun reporting during the early morning hours of Thursday that the side-to-side scrolling had replaced the more commonplace up and down scrolling via an automatic update that was unable to be reversed. The new feature was later reversed among all users, with Instagram blaming the unexpected rollout of the test horizontal feed on a “bug.”

“Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today,” Instagram said in a statement, according to CNBC. “We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”

The update, which immediately sparked backlash from Instagram users and followed the controversial 2016 removal of chronological order feeds, was compared by many to the unpopular February Snapchat update that saw a complete redesign to the app.

“This new Instagram update is dumb. Why get rid of the scrolling feature? It’s been like that since the beginning. Why would you do this. This reminds me of that awful Snapchat update that they had to change back to normal because it sucked so bad,” one person commented Thursday morning.

That Snapchat update saw snap streaks and individual stories grouped together on a single page, which many users thought was confusing and cluttered, while a “Discovery” page and a “Friends” page were added. The automatic update wasn’t able to be reversed and prompted backlash among users of the popular app. The update even prompted an online petition that gained more than 1 million signatures.

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Eventually, Snapchat reconsidered its redesign, with CEO Evan Spiegel later acknowledging that the entire project was “rushed” in a memo to employees.

Currently, it is not known if the horizontal scrolling feature will be rolled out again in a future Instagram update or if the backlash will have been enough to deter Instagram from proceeding with the unpopular scrolling method.