Instagram is testing screenshot alerts for stories


Instagram is testing a feature that will show users when someone else takes a screenshot of their story. Users included in the test are getting a warning that the next time they take a screenshot of a friend’s story the friend will be able to see it, as shown below:

And users who are participating in the test can see who took a screenshot of their story by going to the list of story viewers and seeing a new camera shutter logo next to anyone who took a screenshot of their photo. To be clear, creators won’t get a specific notification when someone takes a screenshot of their story, it will only show up in their list of story viewers.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch Instagram acknowledged the test, saying “we are always testing ways to improve the experience on Instagram and make it easier to share any moment with the people who matter to you.” 

Instagram is likely using this test to see if the feature has any noticeable impact on engagement, before deciding whether or not they’ll roll it out to all users. For example, there’s a chance that some users may end up watching less stories over time if they aren’t able to take screenshots without notifying the creator.

Prior to this test the only screenshot notifications on Instagram were when someone took a screenshot of a private direct message. Anyone could take a screenshot of someone’s photo or story without notifying the creator. Notably, users can rewatch stories as many times as they want within 24 hours, with the creator unable to see exactly how many times one person watched it.

If rolled out, this feature would essentially align Instagram with Snapchat in terms of how the platform deals with screenshots. Any screenshot of a direct message triggers a notification to the sender, but a screenshot of a story will just result in a notation being placed next to the offender’s name in the viewer analytics tab.

Instagram won’t comment on rumored video calling feature


Instagram copied the ‘Snap’ and now it might be going after the ‘chat’. A video calling feature was spotted in an non-public version of Instagram by WhatsApp industry blog WABetaInfo. It would let users who’ve begun an Instagram Direct message thread to video chat with each other. That could let users spend even more time in the app, but by actively communicating, rather that passively browsing which Facebook has come to admit isn’t good for people’s well-being.

For now, though, Instagram it’s refusing to comment. When asked about the feature, a spokesperson told TechCrunch “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation”. That’s different than it’s more affirmative boilerplate statement given when it does confirm tests of forthcoming features, “we’re always testing new experiences for the Instagram community.” That’s what the company told us earlier this month when we reported Instagram’s partnership with Giphy for Stories GIFs…which launched a week later. This video calling feature might never launch.

But Instagram already lets people call in via video to each other’s Live Stories like they’re on a TV talk show, and send short ephemeral video clips over Direct. Instagram recently launched a standalone Direct messaging app. And video calling has become one of the most popular features of Instagram parent Facebook’s Messenger app — with 17 billion video chats occurring in 2017, up 2X from 2016.

So given that Instagram has the capability, interest, and infrastructure to add video calling, why wouldn’t it? WABetaInfo spotted the video call button in the top right of the chat screen, with it only available when messaging with people who’ve already accepted your Direct request.

Leaked usage data from The Daily Beast’s Taylor Lorenz outed how Snapchat Stories sharing has stopped growing, in part because of competition from Instagram Stories, but users are still addicted to Snapchat’s chat feature. Snapchat offers audio and video calling as well as photo, audio clip, video clip, and text messaging, effectively making it an alternative to one’s phone itself.

Messaging is the center of the mobile experience, generating the most device opens and time spent. As Facebook tries to shift the behaviors it instills from harmful, zombie-like scrolling to real interpersonal interaction, doubling down on messaging is a clear path. And Facebook’s apps are always hungry for younger users who might not have phone numbers or bountiful mobile plans, and therefore might especially benefit from this new feature.

Now we’ll have to wait and see whether soon you’ll be calling friends on the Insta-phone. Or is it the Phonogram?

What were your best nine Instagram photos from 2017?


You might have noticed a new end-of-year trend on Instagram the past few days. If so, you can thank 2017bestnine.com, a website that lets you automatically collect and collage your most-liked photos of 2017.

Best Nine has been around for a while, so many of you may be familiar with the tool already. But for those of you who are new to that Best Nine game, here’s how it works.

First of all, your Instagram profile must be public for this to work, so if you have it set to private, quickly switch it to public to allow Best Nine to get in there and do its magic. Once your profile is public, head to 2017 Best Nine and input your Instagram ID.

After a few seconds (or minutes, depending on traffic to the site), the Best Nine service will offer you options for your final collaged photo that includes your best nine photos from 2017.

The ‘original version’ includes a caption that says “Thank you for your likes!” with the hashtag #2017bestnine at the top. You can also choose the photo only version or check out your best nine from 2016.

The final version looks something like this:

And with that, 2017 is nearly over. Happy New Year, everyone!

Featured Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Instagram could let you follow hashtags soon


Instagram is testing a new feature with a small fraction of its user base. As spotted by Pippa Akram and The Next Web, some users can now search for a hashtag and follow this tag in particular.

Instagram used to feel like a carefully curated community. Now, thanks to the algorithmic feed, all the funny posts, weird accounts and niche content seems to be relocated to the very bottom of your feed.

Instead, it feels like Instagram is promoting posts that is going to generate a lot of engagement — baby photos, outrageous things and Taylor Swift’s teasers for her new albums. In other words, Instagram now feels like a tiny Facebook.

Maybe this isn’t the solution, but if you’re a fan of @ihavethisthingwithfloors but don’t see those photos anymore, you might soon be able to follow the #ihavethisthingwithfloors hashtag.

As the screenshot shows, Instagram isn’t going to drastically change your feed. The service is going to select popular and recent posts. And you’ll once again be able to follow things based on your interests and not your social graph.