When Instagram launched its own Snapchat Stories ripoff in 2016, it was meant as a way for creators to keep followers up to date with the latest happenings. Stories was a fresh, spontaneous complement to traditional photos and videos that can be individually uploaded and viewed at any time.
To ensure Stories only included new images, Instagram prevented users from uploading content that was older than 24 hours. Now a recent update does away with that rule, allowing users to upload any photo and video from their library no matter how old it is.
By allowing old photos in Stories, Instagram ruined the element that made it feel genuine.
The appeal of disappearing Stories is that people feel they are a part of the everyday lives of those they follow. Users get a first-hand look at what it’s like to live a day in the shoes of celebrities, athletes, and even animals. Now that any photo or video is fair game to post, these “influencers” can pick and choose what best fits the image they want to portray.
Stories no longer tells a narrative. The feature is now no better than stitching together old photos and videos and posting them on an album.
That’s not to say the 24-hour rule was perfect. People found ways to trick Instagram into letting them post old photos. You could simply take a screenshot of an image you took on a different day and upload the capture in your Story. If you didn’t want the photo quality to be reduced, you could even download a third-party app and manually adjust each photo’s metadata. In some ways, those methods were more damaging before, when tricking Instagram meant tricking followers.
Still, on a platform where people do anything to make every moment seem perfect, it was refreshing to have a rule in place that made some of those moments feel real.