Have you ever looked at your Instagram profile and wished you could bump up that selfie you once posted with Ai Weiwei? Or dreamed of highlighting your party shots from last year’s Frieze LA so that it wasn’t so obvious that you’re not there this year? (Definitely not me…) Well, it may soon be possible.
In a tweet last month, the app developer Alessandro Paluzzi—known for reverse engineering social media platforms and leaking their future updates—shared screenshots of a drag-and-drop function on the Instagram grid. (Instagram has not commented on the rumour.)
Being able to reuse old content without having to repost it could bring opportunities: seasonal posts and ongoing issues could be re-highlighted; a new curation could be composed for special events. Being able to demote now-irrelevant posts could be handy too. “It could be great for artists and advocates to be able to direct people to work or information that they’ve accumulated over time all in one place,” says the US artist and body-equality activist Emma Shapiro. If something important happens, she adds, activists could “move all their previous thoughts on that topic to the top of their wall rather than have their past work buried or need to be reiterated”. She adds that the ability to “snap back” one’s grid to a chronological default would be helpful.
But many argue that the “curated” grid will make the app more fake and superficial. “It’s misleading and unauthentic,” says the curator Noura Abla, pointing out that Instagram has always been a good way to monitor real-time events. The grid’s chronological order has given the app more of a pulse, making it a useful source for news and current trends. Artists such as Cornelia Parker and Tracey Emin have described using Instagram as a diary or sketchbook; the edit button could fracture that.
Another criticism is the seeming commercialisation that the new feature brings. “Instagram is becoming more aesthetic and professional and less for everyday use,” says the German student and climate activist Friederike Leppert. Vanessa Giorgo, an independent curator, agrees that it brings an element of commercialisation but says it will also “make one’s profile more personal”.
A quick poll on my Instagram stories showed that public opinion about the feature is split: 52% think the moveable grid is a good idea while 48% disagree. Most of the comments I received, however, were negative. The curator and collector Huma Kabakci described the move as “ridiculous and time consuming” adding that it would just be “another way to make people procrastinate”. Solicitor Laura Clay-Harris concurred: “Just another organisation task I could do without to be honest.” Some people are just exhausted with all of Instagram’s constant changes. Artist and writer Kenny Schachter called the move “boring, dumb, inconsequential, irrelevant” and marketing specialist Ruba Asfahani described it as “pointless”, while musician Kit Marsden responded: “They should just stop fucking with it.”