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Instagram Lurking In Perspective - How It Has Evolved Over Time?

Gone are the days when internet users could freely lurk around Instagram through the web, without having to log in.

You could easily keep a tab on what your group of friends was liking or who they were following, through the simple click of a browser. But with changing times came a change in trends and today, the platform is being very particular on who has access to popular accounts, restricting non-logged-in users completely particularly on Windows PCs/desktops.

Let’s take for example any renowned public profile like the Instagram account for Digital Information World (cough). Yes, you’ll be guided to the account but you’ll immediately see a pop-up that says an Instagram log in would now be needed to see images/videos from the profile.

Back when Instagram started making waves, users were able to snoop on each other profiles from web/PC without the need of login but gradually it starting limiting the public profile views to a few posts on its website (https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2019/10/instagram-locks-down-app-prevents-lurking.html) and now it has totally barred non-logged-in users from lurking other users profile. Which can have some advantages for Instagram as users who don’t often sign into their accounts now have to login in order to view any latest story of their favorite account (which will ultimately show better engagement metrics in revenue sheets). However, this feature has some disadvantages for businesses and brands as some of their potential customers/audiences (particularly non-logged in who are on the go) won’t be able to judge their profiles or get any idea (positive or negative vibes) about the brand from Instagram web. So, now, it’s time for brands and web publishers to stop recommending their potential consumers to follow them on Instagram from the web as they’ll be redirected to less user-friendly and boring Instagram login pages. BTW, to be honest, when I first clicked on Instagram follow button on DIW blog https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/ (screenshot of IG: https://i.imgur.com/QtjQeZL.png) it felt like someone is trying to hack my account, as this practice kind of resembles with phishing campaigns from hackers who ask for login credentials on every single touch point. For now, Instagram is only letting users/ lurkers to hang around on Hashtag pages such as https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/climate/ and on some embedded posts in the wild web e.g: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-hashtags/. Which is kind of a put off for me as a researcher. Rest in peace Instagram lurking.

And that meant Instagram was no longer keen on being such an open platform, following in the footsteps of Facebook and implementing similar stringent measures. But it only made sense as Instagram wished to maintain its expansion.

Remember, having more users login was also great for the platform’s advertising business. Similarly, logging in means the app benefits from far more superior engagement stats, which transforms into revenue for the platform. Similarly, this could be a good feature for privacy conscious users, but a total opposite for those who didn't opt for this unwanted option.

But did you know that it came with a series of drawbacks too?

For starters, so many businesses along with brands are going to lose a chunk of their viewers, we’re talking about those that don’t wish to log in and would much rather prefer lurking as anonymous.

These web lurkers and researchers found it so much more convenient to judge business profiles and evaluate the pros and cons of a particular brand through the Instagram web. But what does that mean?

Well, it’s obvious how the time has come for brands and even web publishers to put an end to recommendations where the potential target market was given a guide to follow them on Instagram through the web.

Now, these people will only be guided to accounts that are going to be less user-friendly or perhaps just taken to the platform’s login page. It’s more or less similar to phishing campaigns.

Do you remember those pages that continuously ask you to log in at every click of the button? What an absolute nuisance indeed.

For now, all we can say is Instagram is being nice enough to allow both users and lurkers to continue surfing popular hashtag pages (e.g: this one) but it may not be very useful for a lot public profile researchers out there.

For plenty of researchers, it’s a major turn-off and not something they’d like to be seeing. After all, it’s a complete waste of time and resources for many that are on the search for something a little more interesting, without having the hassle to keep logging in from the web.

Therefore, we can't help but decide whose side we’re on. For now, it seems like the time has come to bid Instagram lurking farewell forever.

Read next: 64% of Americans Are Willing to Give Brands Their Email Addresses for $20

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