Instagram is working on new tools to help ensure that the time users spend in app is 'time well spent', in line with parent company Facebook's broader focus.
This week, Instagram has announced that it's rolling out its new 'All Caught Up' notifications to all users, which will inform you of when you've seen all the new content posted by profiles you follow.
As explained by Instagram:
"We’ve heard that it can be difficult to keep track of your seen posts. With this message, you’ll have a better understanding of your Feed and know you haven’t missed recent photos or videos."
The problem stems from Instagram's algorithm-driven feed - now that your posts appear out of chronological order, it can be difficult to keep track of where the new posts end. Now, you'll be able to limit your time scrolling through, which will help users better manage their time.
It seems somewhat odd for Instagram to be actively alerting users to time spent in app, but as noted, the shift is part of Facebook's wider emphasis on ensuring time spent in their apps is 'time well spent'.
As reported by TechCrunch, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom recently explained that:
"We’re building tools that will help the Instagram community know more about the time they spend on Instagram - any time should be positive and intentional. Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”
Late last year, Facebook published a report which outlined how spending too much time on social media can be bad for people if that time is spent passively scrolling, as opposed to actively engaging with content (commenting, sharing, etc.). As a result, Facebook has been putting increased emphasis on active engagement - their News Feed algorithm changes announced earlier this year were part of this, as is another element in testing - a new 'Usage Insights' measure which will inform you of how much time you're spending in Instagram.
In addition to this, Facebook's also reportedly testing a new 'Do Not Disturb' option for both Facebook and Instagram which would mute notifications from each app for a chosen period of time.
As you can see, the tool (spotted by Matt Navarra) would enable users to shut off notifications for a period, or even entirely, limiting distractions.
Again, it feels odd for Facebook to be actively providing ways to limit app disruptions and usage - particularly since the opposite has seemingly been the company's focus for so long. But by emphasizing more meaningful interactions, The Social Network believes it will be better positioning itself for future success.
Mark Zuckerberg himself has acknowledged that this may mean people spend less time in Facebook's apps, but while some engagement metrics may reduce as part of this shift, the changes overall, Facebook says, will be better for the company, long-term.
Definitely, it seems like a positive move for each respective app's communities.