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Is Instagram losing its soul: Kevin Systrom shares his thoughts

The rise of influencers and loss of authenticity on Instagram

18 March 2023

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Kunal Tyagi

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  • Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom hates the platform's commercialization and thinks it has lost its spirit.

  • He contends that the emphasis on commercialization has resulted in a competition to be the most flawless, a controlled illusion of beautiful lives, and an unachievable benchmark.

  • Systrom proposes a different app called BeReal that enables users to be authentic and capture themselves in genuine circumstances.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom has voiced concern about the social media site's commoditization. On a podcast, Systrom expressed his opinion that the app had lost its spirit and had become a tool used by influencers and marketers to generate revenue. According to him, Instagram's incentives are now geared towards commercialization and income generation, which encourages users to showcase their allegedly ideal lives and engage in a competition to be the most beautiful.


Systrom stated that the crafted facades on Instagram create a scary dynamic, where users assume that the stuff they view on the platform represents people's true lives. He pointed out the move to commercialization, which he said had turned Instagram from a site where he would go to see what his friends and family were doing to one where he would see friends post "#advertising". Systrom also recommended BeReal, an alternative app, that allows users to be themselves and catch themselves in actual circumstances.


Systrom made his remarks five years after quitting Instagram due to escalating issues with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He sold the software to Facebook, then known as Meta, in 2012 for $1 billion. Systrom is now one of the creators of the AI-powered news app Artifact.


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Many claims that the commercialization of social media platforms has resulted in a loss of authenticity and the setting of an unreasonable and unachievable standard for individuals to live up to. This worry has been rising for some time. Influencers, who are frequently compensated to promote goods or services on social media, have also become more popular as a result of the trend.


Social media firms have been under growing criticism in recent years for their effects on society, particularly on mental health and well-being. With some research indicating a connection between social media use and bad mental health, Instagram in particular has come under fire for its propensity to increase users' feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.


According to Systrom's remarks, the requirement for many users to project an idealized version of themselves on the app may have unforeseen societal repercussions due to the need to make cash and the emphasis on commercialization. It is unclear whether social media businesses would take anything to allay these worries and give users access to a more genuine and encouraging environment.

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