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 that it would reverse plans to make the platform more like its biggest current competitor: TikTok.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms, originally proposed to alter its algorithm to include more video content from outside accounts, not just a user’s circle of friends and followed pages. The move is likely a result of pressure from Meta to perform, given that Facebook lost users (and the company lost revenue) for the first time this year.
“I’m glad we took a risk,” said Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri to Platformer. “If we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough.”
“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.”
Kim and Kylie were two of many to criticize 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 earned up to $500K per branded post in 2019, has 326 million followers on the platform. Her half-sister Kylie, who earned up to a million dollars per post in 2018, is the second-most followed person on the platform with 360 million followers, second only to soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo’s 470 million.
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Their power over social media has also been proven time and time again. Most notably, Insider reported that Snapchat’s stock fell by over 8% after Jenner abandoned the app due to a redesign. Snapchat lost more than $1 billion in revenue as a result.
It’s no surprise, then, that Instagram is acting to keep its largest users on its good side. The app is trying to maintain a grip on the younger generation, who is more likely to use TikTok, and adapt to the fast-growing sensation’s appeals and audiences. TikTok has a user base of 656 million, and its ad revenue passed Snapchat last year and is expected to pass YouTube’s by 2024.
These plans included some specific changes to its algorithm and features. Instagram plans to have most video posts under 15 minutes automatically shared in the Reels format, which means there would be no difference between Reels and regular video posts. Speaking of Reels, the app was also planning to let users use any public post in their reels, which users are currently only able to remix.
The main factor in this change is a difference in appeal: Instagram is a way to share pictures and videos with friends and followers, whereas TikTok is founded on algorithmic recommendations and demographic research to push viral content forward. Whatever side you’re on, the Kardashian sisters are leading the charge of longtime Instagram users who want the app to stick to its guns.