Things Are Getting Real (Time) For Instagram Users

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In our society, millennials constantly want to stay updated on important events occurring in the world. With today’s technology, most news events can be checked through our cellphones, whether we use news and social media apps or online sites. But one of the hottest social media apps is now getting into the game–Instagram is now trying to get involved in real time news.

This makes a lot of sense, as the American Press Institute did a study that shows 56 percent of Americans actually use their phones to access the news. Studies have also shown that people from the ages of 13-18 are on their phone for an average of four hours every weekday. People are constantly on their devices checking their Twitter, Facebook, and other apps for the newest trends or stories.

Instagram is now trying to be used for more than just posting casual pictures and videos by creating a new feature that will show real-time news to its users. Instagram CEO and Cofounder Kevin Systrom said in an interview:

People are hungry for what’s happening right now in the world. All of us in social media and regular media, we’re all competing for the same thing, which is this gap between something happening in the world and you knowing about it.

The popular app seems to be following the trend of social media companies like Twitter and trying to become a main source for news. Both tweeters and instagrammers log life experiences as they happen. To date, Twitter has been a better outlet for news because it has a more detailed search engine and features that better highlight relevant information. But Instagram has some advantages. Twitter’s growth has only jumped 18 percent to 302 million users in the past year, as opposed to Instagram’s 50 percent growth from 200 million to 300 million in only nine months.

Many see this update as Instagram trying to compete with Twitter’s new product-in-the-making–“Project Lightning”–which organizes tweets, photos and videos based on live events. Twitter also bought live stream startup Periscope earlier this year. But unlike Twitter, Instagram has no intention to stream events. Instead it is going to continue with photos and videos and utilize those types of media to cover the news. Systrom believes that users, especially journalists, will thoroughly enjoy the new features. He stated, “So if you’re a journalist and you want to see live photos happening at any location in our system, you can simply type in the location and up comes the page.” People seem to be agreeing with him so far.

Instagram is ranked as the second most used social media platform among young people. With the new update, users are now able to watch events unfold in real-time as images are uploaded to the app. By improving its “Explore” tab, people can see images taken at a specific place or under the most popular hashtags. The app also introduced a new search function that lets users search for images by people, hashtag and place. The updated Explore page will only be available for U.S. users as of now, but company team members said they are working to bring it to the rest of the world after they fine-tune the experience in the U.S.

With its constant growth rate and new features, I would not be surprised if Instagram surpasses Twitter’s dominance in real time news. This is a smart move for a company on a rise–expect to see it attract even more users and revenue.

Taelor Bentley
Taelor is a member of the Hampton University Class of 2017 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Taelor at



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