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Instagram is Testing a Full-Screen Stories Display as Stories Usage Continues to Rise



Are you ready for the next stage of the Stories takeover in your Instagram app?

Back in May, we reported that Instagram was testing a new double-story Stories feed with some users. Now, Instagram has confirmed that it’s also testing this somewhat intimidating full-screen Stories display:

Instagram Stories full screen

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by AdWeek marketing manager Julian Gamboa, some users are now seeing a prompt below their double-story Stories display to ‘See all stories’. When tapped, the Stories display then expands to full screen (depending on how many Stories you’re eligible to view), creating a Connect 4-style display grid of tappable Stories.

Instagram has confirmed the test to TechCrunch, noting that it’s currently being tested with a small number of users. 

Instagram’s actually had this in testing for some time – back in April, reverse engineering analyst Jane Manchun Wong spotted the code for a full-screen Stories display in the app.

As Wong notes in her tweet, this full-screen display was a result of manipulating the existing code, and I honestly thought this was a joke, and that Instagram would never actually do this. Seems I was wrong, and Instagram is indeed so focused on Stories that it’s willing to create a full-screen, all-encompassing Stories display.

Really, the new test points to the likely future of Instagram, which will be one where the app opens to a full-screen Stories display, like TikTok does with its video clips, in order to align with increasing Stories use.

With more people using Stories, at some point, it seems likely that Instagram will look to switch the main focus of the app from the traditional post feed to a Stories feed, with the ‘classic’ Insta stream shifted another tab. That, of course, would be a significant change, but as parent company Facebook has repeatedly noted, Stories are on track to overtake the news feed as the primary surface for social media engagement, if they haven’t already.

It makes sense for Instagram to evolve in line with user behavior.

It doesn’t, however, seem likely that this full-screen display of Stories bubbles is the best way to present Stories. If more people are using Stories more often, opening to the first Story seems like a better way to go. And with people already become more accustomed to this type of presentation through TikTok, which continues to see increased usage, it would be little surprise to see Instagram make this change at some stage in future.

The likelihood of that happening will at least somewhat depend on how users in this test respond to both the double-decker and full-screen Stories displays. If people in the test pool end up using Stories more, and coming back more often, you can bet that Instagram will look to push the concept further, and as it seeks to fend off competition from TikTok, replicating that app’s UI, and matching user preference, seems like a logical progression.


TikTok Faces More Legal Challenges Over Data Collection and its Failure to Protect Young Users



TikTok Seeks to Address Data Security Concerns, as FBI Calls for Full Ban of the App

TikTok is facing yet another legal challenge in the US, with the State of Indiana filing a lawsuit that accuses TikTok and parent company ByteDance of violating the state’s consumer protection laws, and in particular, failing to safeguard young people and privacy.

As reported by BBC:

“Indiana filed two lawsuits on Wednesday. The first one claims the app exposes young users to inappropriate content. In the other complaint, [Indiana] also alleges TikTok does not disclose the Chinese government’s potential to access sensitive consumer information.”

Described in court documents as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’, the suit alleges that TikTok ‘deceives and misleads’ consumers about the risks to their data, while also exposing youngsters to ‘a variety of inappropriate content’.

TikTok’s faced similar challenges around the world, and has even been banned for periods in other nations due to perceived promotion of harmful content. Recent reports about harmful challenges have also heightened concerns on this front. A Bloomberg investigation highlighted at least 10 cases of underage users dying after attempting dangerous trends like ‘The Blackout Challenge’.

And this is an aside from the broader concerns about data privacy, which the app remains under CFIUS investigation for, as US politicians continue to debate whether or not the Chinese-owned app should be allowed to continue to operate within the US.

It still feels like it would take a significant escalation for the app banned outright, but that remains a possibility, and with various high-profile security officials also sounding the alarm, the pressure remains high on TikTok, with the threat of total removal from the US, and likely other markets in-turn, looming at all times.

Last month, FBI Director Chris Wray stated that, in his view, TikTok poses a threat to national security, joining FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and Republican senator Josh Hawley in voicing their concerns about the app and its data gathering processes. Republican Senators, in particular, have continued to raise queries about the app, as the Biden Administration oversees its long-running review of the platform, which has experienced repeated delays and setbacks, and is now, reportedly, unlikely to be completed by its original end of the year timeframe.

But it could, eventually, recommend the removal of TikTok in the US.

For its part, TikTok says that it remains confident that it will be able to address all US concerns about its data security, via a new deal with Oracle to store US user data in the US. But with the company recently noting that European user data can still be accessed by China-based staff, the concerns remain high, and could easily rise even further, dependent on overall US/China relations.

So how are relations between the two superpowers going?

Just looking at headlines from the past week, there are reports of a potential defense partnership between China and Saudi Arabia, ongoing tensions over Chinese military activations in the South China Sea, and the US increasing its military presence in Australia due to concerns about Chinese escalation.

All of these are issues that could lead to further tension between China and the US. But they might not – and while the two nations are working to establish more beneficial, equitable and peaceful ties, that bodes well for TikTok, as there’s no significant increase in public pressure to take action against the app.

But again, things can change very quickly, and with so many security experts flagging concerns about the app, along with the issues related to underage exposure, there’s clearly a level of underlying concern, that could bubble up at any time.

And when you also consider TikTok’s growing influence – the app now has over a billion users, and is increasingly being used as a search engine and a news source, especially among young audiences – those questions are valid, and should be posed before it’s too late.   

The influence of Russian activists on Facebook was only ever analyzed in retrospect. Those calling for action on TikTok are warning that we need to be proactive on such this time around.

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