Over the holidays, Instagram users got a gift they never asked for and immediately demanded a refund. The popular, image-sharing social media network accidentally launched a new horizontal, tap-to-advance feed for the Instagram. The change generated an immediate backlash from Instagram users, and the company quickly switched everything back. Though things are back to normal at the moment, Instagram's testing error is probably a good indication of how the platform will look in the near future.
Instagram has been testing a horizontal, tap-to-advance interface since at least October. This type of interface is similar to what is used in Stories on Instagram. So rather than being something entirely new, it's more of an attempt to unify the user interface across Instagram. The uproar began when a bug in testing caused the new interface to appear on devices other than the ones intended for the test.
"Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion," an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch on December 27th
, when the issue occured.
Even after the negative public backlash, Instagram has said they still plan to work on the new interface. When the interface they were testing accidentally replaced the scrolling feed for many users, the change was not well received.
According to Tweets from Instagram employees, the test was only meant to be shown to a small audience and that an error is what caused it to replace the scrolling feed for more users than intended. Testing mistakes like these aren't unheard of. Earlier in December, a Google trainee accidentally put a dummy ad into active rotation for 45 minutes, in an error that may have cost Google millions of dollars. So, it's fair to take Instagram at its word that the feed change was an accident.
This information may be provide little comfort for the people who hated the new tap-to-advance navigation. The new interface may not be launching now, but it is something Instagram is working on. And they are at the point in testing where a small number of everyday users are being allowed to used the new interface.