Instagram rolls out horizontal scrolling, then backpedals hard

In this Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, photo, the Instagram app logo is displayed on a mobile screen in Lo
Instagram’s unannounced refresh took users by surprise Thursday. The company has since called the wide rollout a bug.
(Damian Dovarganesd / Associated Press)

Facebook Inc.’s Instagram redesigned its platform for horizontal scrolling — and the plan almost immediately went sideways.

The popular social media app’s unannounced refresh, which Instagram has since called a bug, took users by surprise Thursday. Instead of scrolling through posts vertically, some people had to swipe and tap left and right through their feeds, similar to how the app’s “stories” feature works.

Users went berserk on social media, with #instagramupdate trending on Twitter.

Instagram quickly reverted to vertical scrolling even before everyone had seen the update.


“That was supposed to be a very small test that went broad by accident,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted alongside a grimacing emoji. “Should be fixed now.”

Earlier this year, a redesign of Snap Inc.’s Snapchat was met with similar outrage, and the Santa Monica company has struggled since. The change separated chats and friends’ posts from the rest of the app — the content from media organizations that is paired with advertising sold by Snap. The platform has since seen a decline in the number of daily users, a key metric for social media companies.

Facebook is relying increasingly on growth at Instagram, which now has about 1 billion users, as its namesake social media network has almost reached saturation point. Future revenue growth at Facebook depends on the company’s ability to shift marketers’ interest to new ads in messaging services and marketing spots in “stories,” especially on Instagram.

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