Social Media is a marketplace, and don’t you dare forget about it!

The usage of social media has been a prevalent phenomenon since the early internet days. However, since the early use in the noughties, a lot has changed. One of the most significant changes in how the function of these platforms is the way in which they produce their revenue. Though most of these pages have used advertisements to keep afloat for a long time, it feels like there has been a shift in which the advertisements come first, and the user experience comes second. This shift can be most clearly seen in the latest Instagram update.

In their new update, the Instagram developers made some major changes in the app layout. These changes consist in replacing the button to add content to your profile with a Reels (the Tik Tok copycat) button. Another major change is switching the heart button (in which the user could see notifications to their interactions) with a shopping tab. Needless to say, these new features were not welcomed by most users, since they basically shift the purpose of the app into a more shopping oriented one.

The new design centralizes the Reels and Shopping shortcuts.
Comparison between the old layout and the new layout

The discontent with this update can be seen in numerous of the latest app reviews such as:

“I used to love Instagram! It’s getting worse and worse. It used to be about sharing photos, art and social connection. Now it is mostly all advertising. The new shopping tab, reels and suggested posts are going too far, you have no control over what you see anymore. I feel brainwashed and frustrated when I use it. I no longer have Facebook for similar reasons. Please someone create an Instagram copy, happy to pay if it’s ad free.”

– Jodie Toms, 19 November 2020

“App was pretty fun for a while but with the new interface its hard to log on and just see shopping as a priority. I don’t get why every social media app has to be the best in everything. We have separate apps for a reason. Insta is good for photos and chatting. But that doesn’t seem to be the focus currently. The lack of regard for user concerns is not great”

-Katherina Martin   21 November 2020[1]

These two reviews are not knit picked or alienated opinions, instead there countless of reviews sharing the same level of disappointment towards the new update. After all, there has been a tonal shift, in the core of this app and the users can sense it.

Social media platforms are marketing oriented. Even though this is not inherently bad, there has been an overall shift in which the users are feeling neglected. The goal of these platforms used to be to enable people to connect with their friends and likeminded people. But with the increase of sponsored posts appearing in the users feed and now with this new update, it is undeniable that these platforms have been overcome with greed.

[1] Instagram, 2020. Vers. Google Play Store,