Taking another page from Snapchat’s book Instagram is introducing Location Stories and Hashtag Stories, its version of the algorithmically curated stories you can find via Snapchat’s search feature.
Essentially, Instagram shows the user specific stories in a specific order based on hashtags and locations. Oddly similar to Snapchat’s search feature for stories, the Location Stories and Hashtag Stories will string together cohesive clips from users entirely dependent on the algorithm.
With Instagram’s stories, the algorithm is the editor; it scans all public images and videos posted using hashtags and locations, decides which images and videos to highlight for each specific hashtag and location, and picks the order they play in.
Snapchat’s algorithmically based search feature has received criticism since the unfiltered content included insensitive snaps regarding topics like the crisis in Syria. Searching the keyword “Syria” this weekend, revealed a number of users trivializing the brutal civil war in that country. One Snap played footage of Grand Theft Auto with a caption that read “Live footage of a USA soldier bombing Syria.” Like Snapchat, since Instagram will not only be featuring lighthearted stories but also ones based on world events or tragedies, they will likely run into the same problem.
Instagram similar to the Snapchat feature will be a mix of entertainment and potentially disturbing ones. The lighthearted stories won’t be difficult to find. As an example, Blake Barnes, the director of the product ‘Instagram’s Explore’ played a few in a recent release, including a Hashtag Story for #ootd, or “outfit of the day,” — a compilation of people posting well, the outfit they wore that day. He also showed Location Stories from Tokyo and Paris — compelling peeks into cafes and city life. But when asked to show Location Stories from Tehran and Kabul, Barnes demurred. “Maybe you can try it when you get it,” he said.
Instagram, which has more than 700 million monthly active users, therefore it is more likely than Snapchat to produce stories that will contain violent, graphic, and upsetting images due to a number of people using it. This means that through Location and Hashtag Stories, Instagram will likely have to wrestle with the murders and gruesome violence that are now a major problem on. And with algorithms making the calls, there will be little safeguard against them. Asked about this, Barnes said users can report concerning content and the platform will review it. “Our focus will be to make sure the content that the content we show and pull together into these stories conforms to our policy guidelines,” he said.