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Meta’s ‘consent or pay’ approach to privacy targeted by EU watchdogs.

Eight consumer rights groups from across the bloc filed GDPR complaints on Thursday, arguing that the ad-free subscriptions introduced for Facebook and Instagram in response to EU privacy regulations are a “consent masquerade that does not actually give consumers a free choice.”

Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), said in a statement:

“Meta’s offer to consumers is smoke and mirrors to cover up what is, at its core, the same old hoovering up of all kinds of sensitive information about people’s lives which it then monetises through its invasive advertising model.”


Instagram is preparing a “Friend Map” feature.

Alessandro Paluzzi, who discovers a lot of Instagram features before they’re announced, posted an update on something he’d spotted in the app months ago: the ability to see where your friends are on a map. Snap’s Snap Map is similar, as are features built into Android and iOS.

According to the images Paluzzi posted, Friend Map would be opt-in, and location data end-to-end encrypted.


Jay-Z, Instagram Dad.

Some things are universal.


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Instagram might let you use AI to write messages.

Mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi shared a screenshot that shows an option to “write with AI” when messaging another user. It’s too early to tell what this feature will do, but it’s not exactly a surprise given the AI features Meta has already rolled out on its platforms.


Instagram’s ‘Flipside’ feature creates a finsta forclose friends.

This Instagram feature was spotted late last year, but now some people say it’s live on their accounts.

Going a step further than “Close Friends” posts that are only visible to a select few, it enables another version of a person’s profile with a different name, details, and profile picture, with photos, reels, and stories that only approved accounts can see.


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Instagram is working to expand HDR photo support to more devices.

Samsung announced yesterday that its new Galaxy S24 would become the first device to be able to post and view photos in HDR on Instagram. But this feature may be arriving on more devices soon, according to Meta spokesperson Cullen Heaney:

Samsung is the first manufacturer we’ve worked with to make this feature available, meaning SG24 users are the first to be able to post and view HDR photos in Feed. We are working with additional Android partners (and iOS) to expand the availability of the feature (and thus ability to view in HDR as well).


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Instagram to teens: “Go to bed.”

When a teenager spends more than 10 minutes watching Instagram Reels or sending DMs after 10PM, the app will now prompt them to close Instagram for the night. Meta’s launching the features amidst heightened concern over the impact of social media on its younger users; Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs are due to appear before the US Senate later this month to “testify about their failure to protect children online.”


Instagram has some new filters.

The new filters, which were announced on the @creators Instagram channel, add to the big batch Instagram added in November. Hopefully these recent additions are a sign that Instagram wants to add more filters at a faster clip.


Screenshots of Instagram’s new filters.
Image: Instagram
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Instagram’s latest job cuts reportedly affect around 60 workers.

Reports from Business Insider and The Information say the impacted employees were technical program managers at Instagram. They will reportedly have until March to apply for a new role within the company.

Meta made cuts across the company last year, but it seems job cuts are continuing into 2024. Google, Discord, Twitch, and Unity all announced layoffs this month, too.


Trending topics on Threads?

It looks like the app might be adding a list of topics “based on what people are engaging with right now,” according to app developer Alessandro Paluzzi. You can see how the feature might look in the screenshot below, which has a “Today’s topic” heading positioned beneath the search bar.

Meanwhile, a separate post from Paluzzi also suggests Threads might add a feature that shows live updates for “upcoming, ongoing and past sports events.”


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A Peloton trainer invited Christopher Nolan to train with her “insult-free.”

Variety reported on Thursday that the director said he was doing a Peloton workout when the trainer, Jenn Sherman, called his movie Tenet “a couple hours of my life I’ll never get back again!”

Yesterday, Deadline spotted that Sherman posted a video inviting Nolan to come workout in the Peloton studio with her, promising not to insult him this time (and saying she loved Oppenheimer).


TikTok tweaks its UI for big screens while Instagram still has no iPad app.

TikTok announced that the updated app will take better advantage of tablet and foldable screen real estate by pushing overlaid text to the side. The app also now works in portrait or landscape mode for devices where it didn’t previously, the company wrote.

Meanwhile, in the year 2023, Instagram on the iPad is just a crummy, blown-up iPhone app.


A picture showing two devices running TikTok — one in portrait mode and one in landscape.
Tablets and foldables might actually be the best way to watch TikTok now.
Image: TikTok
Begone, spammy Instagram followers.

Instagram will soon automatically filter follow requests from suspected spam or bot accounts into a separate inbox. You can manually approve any that you think are authentic, and bulk delete the rest, including existing followers that Instagram thinks might be inauthentic. The feature is rolling out over the coming weeks alongside an option to bulk delete spammy tags, and new in-app nudges that’ll let you know when your posts go against Instagram’s guidelines.


Screenshot of potential spam inbox.
The “Potential spam” follow request inbox, with the option to bulk delete requests.
Image: Meta
Instagram now lets you make AI-generated backdrops for your Stories.

It’s a fun tool, though the backgrounds I’ve tested definitely have an “AI art” vibe to them.


Meta updates Threads link referrer so publishers can see where their traffic comes from.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri’s small announcement is important to anyone who publishes content on the internet. Until now, traffic from Threads was indistinguishable from Instagram in the metrics used by sites like this one, But now that it has a separate link referrer, site owners can see for themselves how much traffic it’s sending in comparison to competitors.

On the other hand, Twitter / X allegedly just signed up 10 million new people in a week, if you can believe that.


Instagram’s other potential names for Threads were, uh, much worse.

As Threads continues to rally more users and add new features, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri today shared some other names for the platform that his team previously toyed with.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine that Epigram would’ve had quite the same impact. And Textagram sounds a little too similar to Telegram.

Let’s all be glad that the marketing team eventually moved away from the very forced “-gram” suffix.


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Bumble and Match are suspending ads on Instagram.

The two dating companies paused advertising on the platform after The Wall Street Journal found their ads appearing next to explicit and child-sexualizing content in Reels feeds.

The WSJ got this information by setting up test accounts that followed young gymnasts, cheerleaders, and influencers. When looking through Reels, the outlet discovered that Instagram surfaced “served jarring doses of salacious content to those test accounts, including risqué footage of children as well as overtly sexual adult videos” alongside ads for major brands, including Match, Bumble, Disney, and Walmart.


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The states suing Meta over youth mental health reveal more of their evidence.

The attorneys general of 33 states sued Meta in October, but many details of what executives allegedly knew about the impacts of Facebook and Instagram on youth mental health were redacted. The New York Times reports a version with more details has been unsealed, and you can read all 233 pages here.

Between the first quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2023, Meta received over 1.1 million reports of under-13 users on Instagram via its underage reporting webform and in-app underage reporting process. These processes were only a few of many ways that Meta acquired actual knowledge of under-13 users on its Social Media Platforms. Despite this actual knowledge, Meta disabled only a fraction of those accounts and routinely continued to collect children’s data without parental consent,

In a statement, Meta says the lawsuit “mischaracterizes our work using selective quotes and cherry-picked documents.”


Now everyone can download Instagram Reels from public accounts.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri shared on his broadcast channel that the ability to save reels posted by all public accounts to your camera roll is now available globally. If your Instagram account is public, this FAQ notes that you can opt-out on individual posts or for your entire account (anyone under 18 is opted out by default).

After some testing, Mosseri announced this was live in the US in June, and now it’s everywhere. Similar to TikTok, downloads are available under the share button, and any reel you download will be watermarked with the poster’s Instagram name.


Instagram Reels share options with a button for downloading.
Image: Meta
Now Meta’s Messenger app has a Notes status update feature just like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Over the last year, Meta has added AIM status-like features to Instagram and WhatsApp and today announced it's rolling out Notes (using the same name as Instagram’s feature) for Messenger globally.

You can’t post them from the desktop, but a support document explains how to add or remove Notes via iPhone, iPad, or Android device by clicking the thought bubble next to your profile picture. If you don’t remove them manually, the messages expire after 24 hours.


Screenshot of the Messenger app showing icons for online friends with message bubbles over their faces showing their current status posted as a note. One nmaed Ana is telling her friends “Best time of the Year!, while Alicia posts “wtw?” abd Michael’s note is an upside down smiley face emoji.
Notes in Messenger
Image: Meta
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Remember Instagram Guides?

I’ve long forgotten about the feature since it first rolled out in 2020 as a way to curate recommendations — but now it’s going away. Developer Alessandro Paluzzi first spotted the change, which Instagram spokesperson Mari Melguizo later confirmed to The Verge, saying Guides will be transferred into private saved collections:

We are sunsetting the Guides feature and are converting all existing guides into private saved collections. Usage is low and we are always looking at ways to simplify the app. People can access their saved collections via ‘Saved’ in the profiles settings tab.