(NEXSTAR) — Have you noticed that using Instagram looks and feels different than it used to? Most likely, you’re seeing more videos than photos and more stuff from people you don’t know than people you do. On Tuesday, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the controversial shift isn’t going away anytime soon.
In a Twitter video, Mosseri addressed “concerns” from users, saying:
“I’m hearing a lot of concerns about photos and how we’re shifting to video. Now, I want to be clear: we’re going to continue to support photos — it’s part of our heritage… that said, I need to be honest. I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to be come video over time.”
Instagram’s prioritizing of video (also known as “Reels”) comes as short-form video giant TikTok has wrested a large portion of activity from older social networks. Statistica data shows TikTok had about 78.7 million U.S. users as of January and that it’s expected to grow to 84.9 million users this year. Meanwhile, Instagram, owned by Meta, had around 1.21 billion users as of 2021.
As of 2020, TikTok became the most-downloaded app in the world, according to Bloomberg. The amount of time Americans spent using both Instagram and Facebook was less than time the spent on TikTok.
TikTok’s audience also skews younger than other social media platforms. Average ages of TikTok users globally are women 18-24 (24%) and men 18-24 (18%). Per Statistica data, 31% of Instagram’s global users are between the ages of 24 and 34. While Instagram still touts a significant portion of users age 34 and younger, TikTok continues gaining in desired marketing demographics. A 2020 poll by investment banking company Piper Sandler showed TikTok passing Instagram as the favorite social media platform of teens.
In his video, the IG head said the preference of video over photos would be happening whether or not Instagram changed anything, since sharing trends show more video shares anyway.
But many viewers of Mosseri’s video still weren’t on board.
“Frankly the app has become miserable to use. Reach/engagement has plummeted, and all I see are ads at the top of my feed and Reels. I get the need to be competitive… but not at the cost of destroying what you do best,” Twitter editorial lead Sam Stryker responded. Meanwhile, writer Stefan Etienne wrote, “stop making everything reels. You’re making everyone from journalists, content creators, CEOs, and celebrities agree. It’s now an app for everything you’re advertising, not of my friends and people I think are cool.”
Mosseri said the videos and people you may see suggested to you in your feed are meant to help you “discover new and interesting things.” He countered complaints by saying users can “x-out” recommendations they don’t like and snooze recommendations for up to a month. Nevertheless, Mosseri said recommendations are “the most effective” way of connecting creators with larger audiences.
Mosseri also explained that some users may be seeing full-screen versions of the Instagram feeds, a feature that’s being tested and tweaked.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a Change.org petition to “Make Instagram Instagram Again” had 156,000 signatures.
“There’s no need to overcomplicate things, we just want to see when our friends post, the beauty of Instagram was that it was INSTAntaneous,” the petition’s creator, Tati Bruening, wrote. “Back in the dawn of the app we were all living in the moment, seeing our best moments in real time.”
Instagram did not immediately respond for comment.