Like Facebook’s unfollow feature and Twitter’s mute option, Instagram will soon allow users to stop the service from showing them a certain person’s photos in the feed without forcing them to unfriend someone entirely. Yes, a mute button is finally coming to Instagram.
“When you mute an account, you can still see posts on their profile page and get notified about comments or posts you’re tagged in,” Instagram says. “The accounts you mute will not be aware that you’ve muted them. You can always unmute an account to get their posts back in your feed.” The feature will be rolling out “over the coming weeks” and you’ll find it by pressing the “...” icon in the upper right-hand corner of a user’s page.
The harshest of social media punishments is the unfriend, but for many, it’s become a necessary punishment on Instagram. Instagram says it has 800 million monthly users. The last time Instagram shared the number of photos uploaded per day was in 2015, and the number was 80 million—but back then, the network also had only 400 million users, half as many as it does now, and hadn’t yet introduced the Snapchat-like Stories feature. Instagram is being flooded not only with your friends, but with more of their photos than ever.
Despite a number of updates that changed its original form, Instagram is the simplest social network. And that’s something that deserves to be treasured. The feed remains (somewhat) hallowed ground; sure, photos aren’t all square anymore and you can add multiple images to a post, but the crux of it remains the same: filter, post, scroll, look, like, comment. There aren’t events or groups features, and yes, the Stories and Explore tabs have undergone a series of updates, but at its heart—and I would argue the feed is its heart—Instagram remains a place to post and look at photos.
One downside to that is that it’s been an all-or-nothing network: Either you’re public or you’re private. Either you follow or you unfollow. Over time, the number of people and brands invading the sacred space of the feed overwhelmed the experience, and you were forced to decide: Unfollow (and risk a real-life relationship) or force yourself to look at someone’s 10-plus food photos every day. It would seem that things reached a tipping point, and Instagram caved, giving us a little bit of function in exchange for some of its core simplicity.
Not that the photo-sharing network hasn’t traded in plenty of that on its own to its more accessory features. Within the past month, Instagram launched in-app payments for business pages, emoji polls, and GoPro and Spotify integration to Stories. These are all moderately confusing, decidedly flashy (at least in the app world) updates that no one truly wants or needs. It’s fair to wonder if the Facebook-owned Instagram will become too much like its parent company and try to be everything. (I will give up my account the day birthdays are introduced, I promise.) But today, a respite from the fluff, because an Instagram mute button is something we both want and desperately need.