It's not often that Instagram changes how it works, but starting this week, one of its oldest features will be shown the door.
The app's Following tab, which is part of an activity feed that serves up posts that people you follow are liking or commenting on, will be phased out, following a quiet test it ran in August with some users. The company confirmed the change to BuzzFeed News, explaining that the menubar's heart icon, which brings you to a page for the “Following” and “You” feeds, will now only display your own activity.
Instagram’s head of product, Vishal Shah, said "simplicity" was the driving factor behind this decision. He also indicated some users didn't know the feature existed: “People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing. So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built if for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up,” Shah explained.
The Following tab under the heart icon in Instagram has always been controversial. Without explicit consent from users, it revealed which posts you and your friends interacted with on the platform. In some situations, that could've been embarrassing or even damaging to your relationships.