Instagram Stories are fantastic. We all love watching short movies about every person we’ve ever met or cared about, all day, in the middle of anything. But because there’s almost nothing left that doesn’t involve money in a loud, tacky way, there are often ads in the middle of Instagram Stories. Usually you can skip them and it’s fine.
Usually! Not today. Today on the web, a self-proclaimed, confusingly young venture capitalist named Blake Robbins brought the world’s attention to an Instagram Stories ad for a Chinese sneaker manufacturer called Kaiwei Ni. Whoever made the ad, he notes, designed it to look as if there is a stray hair in the middle of whatever phone screen it appears on. It’s disturbing, not just because single hairs are somehow much more disgusting to look at than heads of hair, but also because the goal is to trick Instagram users into swiping up on the ad and traveling to a sneaker manufacturer’s website by accident.
Update: When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Instagram told The Verge, “This ad violated Instagram’s policies and was removed from future delivery in Stories several weeks ago. We also disabled the account from advertising on the platform again.”
There is a fake hair on this ad to get you to swipe up.— Blake Robbins (@blakeir) December 9, 2017
Someone needs to stop these “growth hackers.” pic.twitter.com/FpqMdMOP2m
Imagine if you saw this ad and it worked! You’d be like, “Just gonna brush this hair off my screen and then keep watching 500 Instagram stories I don’t care about just to dilute the act of watching the one I do care about, which was posted by some boy I haven’t spoken to in 18 months.” Then you’d be like “I’m on a sneaker website? The hair ... vanished into thin air? I’m so excited about my sudden magical ability to make unsavory debris evaporate that I’m going to celebrate by purchasing some fake Yeezys at a reduced cost?”
Or you might be really annoyed, have no outlet for expressing it, and end up feeling gloomy and tired for however long it takes to find a real person to be a little harsher to than is strictly necessary. The future is terrible! In the replies to Blake’s tweet, someone wrote “Lol it’s not deception It’s getting above the noise.” This image was originally posted in the r/mildlyinfuriating subreddit and Blake just kind of tweeted it without saying that’s where he found it.
You should give credit whenever you take things, even if the things you take are bad. You should blow a short, heavy gust of air at your phone screen whenever you see a hair on it, just in case.
Updated December 12th, 5:30 AM ET: Updated to include statement from Instagram.