The Kardashian-Jenner influence can move mountains, especially when it comes to the online world. After Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian criticized changes to Instagram’s algorithm, the social media giant announced it will reverse plans to make the platform more like its current biggest competitor: TikTok.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook parent company Meta Platforms, initially proposed changing its algorithm to include more video content from external accounts, not just a user’s circle of friends and followed pages. The move is likely a result of Meta’s pressure to perform, as Facebook lost users (and the company revenue) for the first time this year.
“I’m glad we took a chance,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri told Platformer. “If we don’t fail every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough.”
“But we definitely have to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we learned a lot, then we come back with some new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”
Kim and Kylie were two of many who criticized these changes. They shared a post on their story that read: “Make Instagram Instagram again. Stop trying to be TikTok. I just want to see cute photos of my friends. Sincerely, everyone.”
It’s worth noting that these are two of the biggest Instagram users in the world. Kim, who made up to $500,000 per branded post in 2019, has 326 million followers on the platform. Her half-sister Kylie, who earned up to $1 million per post in 2018, is the second most followed person on the platform with 360 million followers, followed by soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo at 470 million.
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Her power over social media has also been proven time and time again. Most notably, Insider reported that Snapchat’s stock fell over 8% after Jenner abandoned the app for a redesign. Snapchat lost more than $1 billion in revenue as a result.
It’s no surprise, then, that Instagram acts to keep its biggest users on its good side. The app tries to keep a grip on the younger generation, who are more likely to use TikTok, and adapt to the appeal and audience of the fast-growing sensation. TikTok has a user base of 656 million and its ad revenue surpassed Snapchat last year and is expected to surpass YouTube by 2024.
These plans included some specific changes to its algorithm and features. Instagram plans to automatically share most video posts under 15 minutes in reels format, meaning there would be no difference between reels and regular video posts. Speaking of reels, the app also planned to allow users to use any public posts in their reels, which users can currently only remix.
The main driver behind this change is a difference in appeal: Instagram is a way to share images and videos with friends and followers, while TikTok relies on algorithmic recommendations and demographic research to drive viral content. Whichever side you’re on, the Kardashian sisters lead the charge of longtime Instagram users wanting the app to stick to their guns.