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Facebook tightens its grip on Instagram's readers

Editorial Staff

If there's a way to force non-FB group users into the fold, Facebook is going to find it. Within the past few days, it has removed one of the most useful features of Instagram: the ability of millions of mobile users to "lurk" and read comments posted on a page. Why? Because it's failed to force them to sign up by an utterly obtrusive "splash screen" that's a bugger to remove because the X is in the wrong place. For now, it's latest change does not affect desktop users but, just as FB itself has made it increasingly difficult to access supposedly public information without an account, surely that's going to change.

The change is simple: under a photo, there is a space for comments. Historically, only Instagram members have been able to post - that's fair enough, even desirable. But anyone and everyone could read the comments which, for celebrity pages for example, allowed insight into the attitudes of fans.

The change will not affect so-called influencers - they can still post their photos and attach their hashtags but, for mobile users at least, only two comments will be visible. Clicking on the "show all comments," forces the visitor to a page demanding sign-up or sign-in via Facebook.

This all ties in nicely with the announcement in February that Facebook intended to more closely integrate its name product plus instagram and it's supposedly (but not really) secure messaging system WhatsApp. It will allow FB to do what it repeatedly says it will not do: to amalgamate data, analyse and use data relating to specific users.