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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Instagram to alert users when service goes down

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Instagram is testing a new feature that will alert users when the service is having major technical difficulties. The alert will appear as a notification in users’ Activity Feed when “people are confused and looking for answers,” says Instagram. In other words: when the app’s systems take a serious and prolonged nose-dive, as they did last week.

It’s a sensible feature from Instagram’s parent company Facebook, given the chaos that’s caused when its services go down. When Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram fail, people often wonder if there’s something wrong with their connection, their internet, or their account. A little notification telling users, “Don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s us” will probably save a lot of confusion in the future.

Instagram says it’s testing the feature in the US for the “next few months,” and may roll it out more widely if it’s helpful. It’s easy to imagine similar features being introduced for Facebook’s most essential service, WhatsApp; a messaging app that, for many, constitutes their primary mode of digital communication.

In the same announcement today, Instagram also said it was introducing a new tool named “Account Status” which will notify users if their content is reported as inappropriate. “We’ll start by making it easier for people to know whether their account is at risk of being disabled,” said the company in a blog post. “In the coming months, we plan to add more information to this tool, giving people a better sense of how their content is being distributed and recommended across different parts of Instagram.”

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