Instagram is bad at the open web

Week 217 was posted by Charanjit Chana on 2021-12-20.

I fully believe in the open internet. I get why there are paywalls and web applications are their own beast but for the most part the internet is what it is because it's open.

There's the closed internet too, one that is trying to rebrand itself (literally).

Take Instagram's post previews, hidden from Twitter for almost a decade, made their return in November but now we've lost the ability to view these posts without logging in. They've reversed their model and in my opinion, the situation is worse than it was before. Prior to their acquisition in 2012, Instagram was a much better citizen when it came to the open web.

I have an account, so it's not a big deal, but it's not a log in once and you're done situation. For every app that uses an in-app browser, if you click on an Instagram link you're presented with the option to log in.

Why it doesn't bump you to the app, or even give you the option is beyond me. The experience was never great. Without logging in the timeline length was limited, clicking on a post would prompt you to log in and when it did redirect you'd land in the App Store where you get the option to Open Instagram but without the context of where you came from.

How a company that was bought for $1 billion and with the might of Facebook / Meta behind them functions this way is beyond me. Social previews are very useful, they make timelines more engaging but of course Facebook/Meta/Instagram have opted for the smallest option possible. Big enough to entice you, but small enough to annoy you.


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