Instagram Tests Notification System for Confusing Outages



A week after one of the worst outages in its history, Instagram has revealed it’s testing a notification system to let people know when technical issues are impacting the service.

You might believe that you won’t need to be informed when Instagram goes down, as you’ll already be mopping beads of sweat from your brow or swearing at your phone as you come to realize the alarming situation that’s playing out.

But Instagram says, in some cases, technical issues can cause confusion among its community, with some people believing the issue is unique to them. In scenarios like that, Instagram believes a notification would reassure people that “it’s not just you,” and that the company’s engineers are working to fix the problem.

“Through conversations with our community and extensive research, we know how confusing it can be when temporary issues happen on Instagram,” the Facebook-owned company said in a post on Monday, October 11. “When they impact engagement or distribution, we also know that it can lead people to think that the problems are unique to them, based on what they post. That lack of clarity can be frustrating, which is why we want it to be easier to understand what’s going on, directly from us.”

If the feature is rolled out to the entire Instagram community, you’d see a notification in your Activity Feed when the platform experiences an outage or technical issue, Instagram said.

However, it said it wouldn’t send a notification every time there is an outage, but only when “we see that people are confused and looking for answers.” In that way, perhaps the company is hoping the service will prevent people from running off to Twitter to find out what’s going on, and possibly dunking on the service while they’re there.

The test will run first in the U.S. and continue for the next few months, after which Instagram will decide whether to make it a permanent part of its service.

Instagram’s latest test comes a week after a massive outage that knocked out Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp for around six hours. Facebook said the outage was caused by configuration changes to its routers. Another technical issue impacted its services just a few days later.

Account Status

Instagram also announced a new tool called Account Status, which is described as a “one-stop shop to see what’s happening with your account and content distribution.”

It will include messages about whether an account is at risk of being disabled due to the type of content being posted. The tool also includes a “Request a Review” button if you think Instagram has made a mistake with its analysis of your account.

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