The “Following” section was launched in 2011, pre-Explore tab. It was not designed to be a source of anguish and rumination. On the contrary, it was supposed to connect you to the world at large and encourage you to explore new places/people.
I found the Following tab by accident one night. I’d swiped right instead of up, and when I realized the world I’d been shielded from I instantly felt bad for those who had discovered it before me. Many nights I wished I couldn’t see who was liking other people’s things and not texting me back, or I hoped the women I didn’t text back hadn’t discovered the tab.
Instagram’s Head of Product Vishal Shal told BuzzFeed News that “simplicity was the driving factor” behind the decision. He also noted that people didn’t always know it was there. You, my reader, might not have known until right now. Think about what you’ve done for a second.
“People didn’t always know that their activity is surfacing,” Shah said, per the report. “So you have a case where it’s not serving the use case you built it for, but it’s also causing people to be surprised when their activity is showing up."
And that’s that, folks. My personal theory is that the app designers also couldn’t stop stalking their exes, but I cannot confirm it.