Instagram announced three updates today aimed at boosting user safety, authenticity and transparency.
The Facebook-owned app revealed an About This Account feature, a revamped verification application process and new ways to sign in with two-factor authentication. Industry experts see today’s announcements as a response to recent backlash over the lack of transparency on the part of both social platforms and influencers.
“All of the ‘influencer under fire’ rhetoric that has happened over the past few months has made it apparent that the platform needed some reform,” said Leah Logan, vice president of media products and community growth at influencer marketing company Collective Bias, an Inmar company.
These moves, according to Rebecca Rosoff, managing partner and co-founder of digital agency The Kimba Group, show how Instagram is giving Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and company a ripe opportunity to make good—or do better, at least.
About This Account
The new About This Account feature will be available to all users via the drop-down menu on profiles, providing information such as the date the account was established, the country where it is located, accounts with shared followers, changes to the account’s username and any ads currently being run by the account.
Account holders with large audiences will be able to review all of the information about their accounts that will be publicly available in September, prior to the global rollout of the feature.
Instagram co-founder and chief technology officer Mike Krieger said in a blog post introducing the new features that the company is listening to community feedback, and these moves are indicative of the app trying to hit as many strong notes as possible.
Influencers on Instagram will clearly be impacted by the new feature, and reaction from that community was mixed. Those who viewed it positively stressed authenticity.
“It’s healthy for the influencer marketing ecosystem as a whole for platforms like Instagram to be pushing this broader notion of transparency around power users, or those with large followings,” said Kamiu Lee, CEO of influencer marketing platform Activate. “Particularly given the recent industry battle against fake followers and bots, it’s encouraging that this new feature will provide more information on these large personalities, giving the public more visible insight.”
However, some in the industry felt that Instagram may be revealing too much information.
Gil Eyal, CEO of influencer marketing platform Hypr, expressed concerns about Instagram being “the judge and the executioner,” saying that accounts on the platform and other social networks deal with the challenges of “a high level of inactivity in the space,” and adding, “It’s one thing to say, ‘We’re going to give you information on the audience influencers have,’ but it’s another thing to share information on how many followers engage regularly.”
Instagram began testing an in-application form for account verification in June, for “all accounts that are notable and authentic.”
That form will officially be made available Wednesday to accounts that reach large audiences and comply with Instagram’s terms of service and community guidelines, and Krieger said all accounts will be reviewed to confirm “authenticity, uniqueness, completeness and notability.”
Rosoff sees the new verification process as a positive, saying, “Instagram influencers are now bona-fide businesses. This level of verification (think Google and Yelp business products) is necessary for any digital platform intending to generate massive ad revenue and play in the highly competitive world of digital ad dollars.”
Others were skeptical, as Logan thought it would benefit mid-tier microinfluencers, but, “Without saying exactly what it means to be verified, I’m not sure it has the same level of authentication it once did,” and Eyal added, “If you open up the process, you’re going to be bombarded by a lot of people who think they’re influencers. Verification is not only a status symbol—it’s also a creator of trust. You don’t want to dilute the value of the check mark.”
Finally, another feature Instagram had been testing is now ready for its official debut: the ability to login via third-party authenticator apps, such as Google Authenticator and Duo Mobile.
This method of two-factor authentication has been in test mode since July, and it will be made available globally “in the coming weeks,” with Krieger saying that it “makes it easier and safer for people to securely log into Instagram.”