All posts in “instagram”

Instagram adds a new creative way to reply to a photo or story


Instagram inception, here we come. If somebody sends you a photo or video in a private conversation on Instagram, the app will now let you play around with the original photo so that you can reply in a creative way and keep the context of the conversation.

If you receive a photo or video, there’s now a reply button in the conversation thread. If you tap on this button, the original photo is instantly turned into a sticker in the top right corner. You can leave it there and reply with some context

But you can also move it around, tilt it and draw around it. If you’re replying to a video, it looks like Instagram only keeps a screenshot of the first frame.

If you tap on it, the original photo fills the top half of the screen. You can then take a selfie for the bottom half of the photo. It reminds me of Frontback, a photo-sharing app that lets you take a photo of what you have in front of you, and a photo of your reaction with a selfie. Instagram works the same way as it features both the context and your reaction.

The comparison stops there as you can still apply filters, draw on your photo, add stickers, write text and use all those creative tools together. Your reaction doesn’t have to be a photo either. You can record a video, a boomerang, use a selfie filter and more.

More importantly, this new reply mode isn’t limited to direct messages. If you’re watching a story, you can either send a text reply by tapping on the text field at the bottom of the screen, or you can send a photo/video reply by tapping on the camera icon at the bottom left of the screen. And that makes a lot of sense as you want to know the context when somebody is replying to part of your story.

Run to the rock


The past week has been a tough one for lovers of freedom. Slippery slopes have been slid down and a side of the human mind that once remained in shadow has reared its head. Charlottesville is just the first step down a dark road.

In real life, on the public square, our support of freedom of speech and public assembly – a freedom that has long helped hater and lover alike – is in question. Do we open our squares to men who will fight equality? Do we unlock our school grounds so that fear can reign? Do we simply close our windows on loudspeakers calling out for genocide or do we act? I don’t have an answer, but sunlight has always been the best antiseptic and seeing most of these groups on a bare parade ground lays bare their insignificance.

But what do you about the Internet where everything is shadow hiding inside corporate iron? The Internet is a utility, to a degree, but not one whose sanctity is guaranteed to us by some holy writ. We send bits over corporate networks onto servers housed in corporate basements. We shout into corporate megaphones and write screeds – like this one – into corporate editor windows.

On that skein of wires there is no sunlight. We, the creators of that world, must decide. Do we let hate live alongside love? What is conversation when everyone yells? What is fair when everyone has the loudest voice?

I was once a free-love kind of Internet zealot. I still agree that DRM is wrong, that media wants to be free and that good media will be paid for by someone. I still agree that sex is far less egregious than violence and that visions of both help define the lines of our personalities and ensure we do not wander too far into some puritan desert. I was angry, for example, when Pinterest pulled sexual content but know I know things have changed. Pinterest runs is own servers. It is responsible for the contents. It deserves final say.

And that’s where we are now. If you hate, says Wired in a recent profile of Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, you will be shut down.

“Insta­gram is supposed to be a place for self-expression and joy,” wrote Nicholas Thompson in the profile. “Who wants to express themselves, though, if they’re going to be mocked, harassed, and shamed in the comments below a post? Instagram is a bit like Disneyland—if every now and then the seven dwarfs hollered at Snow White for looking fat.”

Or who wants to star in a Ghostbusters reboot and be called racial slurs? And who wants to live in a world where /r/aww lives next to /r/poli?

We, the curators of the Internet, have to decide. Some of us already have. We see Cloudflare and GoDaddy pulling their services from white power site Daily Stormer. Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince agonized over the decision. He, like most Internet users, expects the web to be free as in freedom.

“Our team has been thorough and have had thoughtful discussions for years about what the right policy was on censoring. Like a lot of people, we’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but we have followed the law and remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare,” he wrote. “You, like me, may believe that the Daily Stormer’s site is vile. You may believe it should be restricted. You may think the authors of the site should be prosecuted. Reasonable people can and do believe all those things. But having the mechanism of content control be vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice.”

In the end this is where we must go. It’s folks like Rabbi Abe Cooper as well as Valley CEOs who will help us find a way forward. Freedom of speech in the public square is one right we all have. But there is no free speech in the walled garden if the gardener doesn’t will it.

Listen to Nina Simone. She sang an old spiritual and sang it beautifully.

“Oh, sinnerman, where you gonna run to? Where you gonna run to? All on that day,” she said. “We got to run to the rock. Please hide me, I run to the rock. All on that day. But the rock cried out. I can’t hide you, the rock cried out. I ain’t gonna hide you there.”

Haters are hiding. They run to the rock. The rock is cries out. It won’t hide them. They must stand, then, and face those they wronged. This is the way it has always been and always will be. We can’t let the Internet change that.

Pinterest users can now pinch-to-zoom on photos in the app


Pinterest is adding a new feature today that allows users to pinch a photo to zoom in and out on various Pins, matching a feature that’s available on a lot of other services, like Instagram.

Pinterest is trying to be a central hub of high-quality photos and videos centered around ideas and products, but this still more or less exemplifies that the ability to manipulate photos within the app has started to become table stakes for sites like Pinterest. It also has to refine its visual search product as more and more companies offer similar products, like Google (ironically also called Lens, the same name as Pinterest’s camera search product). As the company becomes increasingly focused on mobile and discovery centered around photos, users will start expecting the kinds of behaviors that exist on other services (like Instagram) to exist on Pinterest.

One of Pinterest’s core directives is to push people closer and closer toward a moment of inspiration where they act on some kind of idea they discover on Pinterest. That can include buying a product, downloading an app or even changing things in their closet based on something they see on Pinterest. If Pinterest is able to do that, it can go to advertisers and explain that it has a different kind of user behavior that they won’t find on Facebook or Snap — and get them to start spending a lot of money on Pinterest.

Zooming in on a photo to get a better look at something seems like a good feature for digging through cluttered photos in order to identify a product. Pinterest is giving users a way to take photos in order to search for products, but those kinds of amateur photos might not have the right products in focus. That might be especially true for rooms in homes and could hold true even for professional photos.

That might also help Pinterest fend off apps picking off certain use cases that the company has traditionally owned. Houzz, for example, is trying to become a go-to place for interior design and products you would buy for your home. That’s catapulted Houzz into a startup with a $4 billion valuation.

Pinterest is also making a small tweak to make the option to search visually on a Pin easier to find. All these kinds of tweaks may seem somewhat small. But the sum of these incremental changes may help Pinterest continue to show advertisers that it’s a company that deserves a big chunk of their ad budgets typically reserved for Google and Facebook. Pinterest recently raised capital at a $12.3 billion valuation, and if it’s going to justify that valuation it has to turn into a critical spend for marketers.

Instagram is updating its comments with conversation threads

Instagram comments just got a major upgrade.
Instagram comments just got a major upgrade.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Today, Instagram announced a major upgrade to its comments section that will let people thread different conversations under a single post.

The feature was first reported as a test on Android apps earlier this summer, but now, the company is adding threaded comments to everyone’s accounts on both Android and iOS.

When users hit “reply” on a comment after today’s update, the comment will appear in a nested thread. Before the update, all replies lived in one column, making it difficult to have multiple conversations on the same post.

Instagram comment threads took a note from Facebook.

Instagram comment threads took a note from Facebook.

Image: instagram

You’ll notice that when you reply to a comment now, it will be slightly indented to the right of the original comment. This should make is way easier to reply to different people on a single post without muddling the entire comment section.

The update essentially makes Instagram posts similar to the threaded comments already seen on Facebook. Chatting back and forth on a post should become just as easy on Instagram as it already is on Facebook.

The threaded comments come with Instagram version 24 and above, so make sure you’re running the most updated version of the app. Instagram says the updates will be available globally in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open if you don’t have it yet. And get ready for Instagram conversations to start being a lot easier to follow.

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Facebook and Instagram get redesigns for readability


Taking inspiration from line drawings, Reddit and Messenger, Facebook is overhauling the design of the News Feed to make it more legible, clickable and commentable. Specifically, Facebook now makes it much clearer where threads start and end in comments. Meanwhile, Instagram today got a little redesign itself with comment reels now being threaded so you can have sub-conversations in public.

Facebook periodically updates its design, typically stripping out unnecessary “chrome,” or user interface framing, to create a sleeker, more readable look. There’s more and more white space on Facebook, which could be intended to reduce eye fatigue during long browsing sessions and let your friends’ content pop off the screen more vividly.

Facebook’s design team writes “we did not want to just ‘fiddle at the edges’, but rather make something that billions of people use every day less frustrating.”

Both the Facebook and Instagram changes will roll out to all iOS and Android users over the next few weeks.

Facebook comments

Facebook is adopting the Messenger bubble style for comments. This will make threading more obvious, but also encourage the rapid-fire conversations people typically have in private messages. Facebook has been trying to make comments feel more alive recently with fast-moving conversations becoming their own chat windows.

Navigation and like buttons

Facebook has made its navigation and feedback buttons bigger and easier to recognize with a new unfilled line drawing style. The News Feed, Video, Marketplace, Like, Comment and Share buttons now all feature this look. Meanwhile, Facebook is swapping the classic globe notifications icon for a more standard alerts bell. These could all be less distracting to the eye so you focus on Facebook’s content, not its chrome.

Other redesigns for legibility include higher contrast text that’s easier to see and circular profile photos that take up less space and feel more human. Link previews are now a little bigger, too, which could get more people clicking and sending referral traffic to other sites. However, Facebook says today’s changes shouldn’t impact the reach or traffic of Pages. The URL domain is now more prominent, appearing above the link’s headline, which could reduce the likelihood that users click fake/hoax sites that mimic popular news publisher URLs.

Knowing where you are

Facebook wants to make sure you don’t get lost several layers deep beyond the feed. Now you’ll see a more obvious header with a bigger black back button when you dive into a post from the News Feed. Facebook also says you’ll be able to “See where a link will take you before clicking on it,” though it already had link previews, blurbs and URLs, so we’ve asked for clarification here.

Design ethics

As Facebook and Instagram restyle themselves to boost usage, a question arises about design ethics. Is building a better mousetrap beneficial to society? Facebook and Instagram certainly allow communities and friend groups to grow their bonds, but when does fruitful exchange and sentimental entertainment give way to mindless scrolling?

As former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris discusses in his TED talk, over-optimization for engagement on social networks has created apps that are addictive to the point of being destructive.

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Over the years I’ve repeatedly asked Facebook’s top executives like CPO Chris Cox and VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri about whether the company is doing research into how to prevent or minimize internet addiction that can stem from Facebook’s ad-driven business model, and I’ve never gotten a direct answer that indicates they think it’s a priority.

They do care about their users’ experience, with Cox telling me “We’re getting to a size where it’s worth really taking a careful look at what are all the things that we can do to make social media the most positive force for good possible.” But you can always have too much of a good thing.

The execs tell me Facebook wants to make sure all your time spent on its apps is “meaningful”. Yet at some point when people are sitting in the dark alone refreshing the feed over and over, it could be worth surfacing Internet addiction and mental health tips, or encouraging them to connect directly with a friend via messaging.

Perhaps one day our apps will be redesigned not just to soak up more attention, but to warn us when we’re neglecting everything else.