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Instagram rolls back TikTok-style changes after mounting criticism

Instagram users including Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian had raised objections over test features on the app.

After it came under pressure for testing out new features that seemingly copied the format of TikTok and other social media apps, Instagram will roll back some of its changes, CEO Adam Mosseri said.

"I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri told Platformer. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. (When) we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that."

Mosseri said the app will begin to phase out the feature of a full-screen feed that was tested on a small population of Instagram users. Instagram will also scale back on the recommended content that show up on feeds, he said, though it's unclear by how much.

The rollback comes days after a petition circulated on Instagram asking the company to "make Instagram Instagram again," garnering the attention of hundreds of thousands of users, including high-profile influencers like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian.

Mosseri posted a video to his social media accounts Tuesday to address some of the backlash, but users still criticized the company for seemingly copying TikTok with its new changes — a practice that marketing expert and advisor Jay Baer said is not new in the tech world.

"The history of technology is primarily of companies playing copycat successfully," Baer told TODAY by phone. "You don’t have to be first, you just have to be best. The question becomes, then, can Meta (Instagram's parent company) do TikTok better than TikTok does TikTok?"

Mosseri told Platformer regarding recent frustrations over the new feed designs, "I think there we need to take a big step back, regroup, and figure out how we want to move forward."

He also said he's "confident" that once the app scales down on recommendations and regroups on what consumers actually want, Instagram will "start to grow again."

Mosseri also shut down speculation that the timing of his video lined up with the response from Jenner and Kardashian, saying he recorded the video the night before he saw their reposts of the petition.

Mosseri posted a video to his social media on Tuesday regarding the criticism of Instagram's changes.
Mosseri posted a video to his social media on Tuesday regarding the criticism of Instagram's changes.@mosseri via Twitter

Regardless of whether people were excited or apprehensive about the changes, Mosseri said he thinks the situation is "getting conflated" and his goal is to "untangle those things" so consumers understand the reasoning behind Instagram's decisions.

"I think we need to do a better job making sure it’s clear why something is better, and explaining something before it happens, so we don’t surprise people," Mosseri said.

However, the Instagram head noted that the rollback in changes will not be permanent as the company continues to navigate both redesigning the app and maintaining its original intent.