Six months ago, we had picked up our first whispers that Instagram was considering integrating a “regram” or reposting tool, something that a large number of the network’s users already do through third-party apps. It’s really been a multi-year internal tug of war at the company, but that story was the first real sense that we were getting somewhere.
Currently, the platform allows a form of regramming through its Stories feature, but in terms of being able to post regrams to a user’s feed, that is not currently up for discussion.
TechCrunch‘s Josh Constine went into detailed analysis of the most recent burst of activity regarding screenshots posted by The Verge‘s Casey Newton just three days ago. Instagram had issued a “no comment” response initially, but told Constine a day later that it is “not happening” after comments on Newton’s story ran against the feature.
From Constine, explaining Instagram’s stance in his own words:
Regramming would be a fundamental shift in how Instagram works, not necessarily in terms of functionality, but in terms of the accepted norms of what and how to post. You could always screenshot, cite the original creator, and post. But Instagram has always been about sharing your window to the world — what you’ve lived and seen. Regramming would legitimize suddenly assuming someone else’s eyes.
The result would be that users couldn’t trust that when they follow someone, that’s whose vision would appear in their feed. Instagram would feel a lot more random and unpredictable. And it’d become more like its big brother Facebook whose News Feed has waned in popularity – susceptible to viral clickbait bullshit, vulnerable to foreign misinformation campaigns, and worst of all, impersonal.
A first-party regram function would have the advantage of preventing an image from appearing multiple times in your feed — Instagram would stack the names of the people you follow who have already regrammed it. But even that could cement certain images and limit the number of new images that would appear in your feed and make it acceptable to not post original content for the sake of building commentary upon existing content. And with more than 1 billion monthly active users, that would be a dangerous place to be.
It feels like there’s a lot of presumption going on with this saga, but at the end of the day, Instagram is the ultimate controller of its fate and what it wants to be seen as in the eyes of its users.