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Instagram’s Public Collections Are Coming. Should Pinterest Be Worried?

Tech

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A reverse engineering project revealed that Instagram’s next big feature could take on Pinterest’s most popular functions.

Instagram’s meteoric growth in the past few years has come, in part, by the “borrowing” it’s done from competing platforms, fashioning features that quickly became popular. Instagram Stories quickly eclipsed their competitor Snapchat’s Story feature…and now it seems like Instagram’s next “inspiration” has come from Pinterest.

Software developer Jane Manchun Wong happened upon evidence in Instagram’s Android “back-end,” that suggested a future in which the current Collections feature could be toggled to be made public. At present, Collections are user-curated lists of favorite posts, visible to only the user. In addition to making these saved posts public, “Collection Owners would [also] be able to grant permission for other Instagram users to contribute to their public collections.

In addition to thwarting growth of a competing platform—the discovery of this feature comes curiously close to Pinterest’s expressed interest in filing an IPO—this capability holds a great deal of promise for users, brands, and the platform overall.

For users, public collections could create a kind of sharing previously unavailable on the site. At present, sharing something that another user has posted can only be done natively through Stories. The ability to properly attribute shared posts is one that is presently “hacked” through either screenshots or third party apps. In the promise of a Public Collections feature, Instagram offers a process to make that manuever easier.

For brands, public collections could advance the efforts to make e-commerce easier on Instagram. Given that 83% of Pinterest users will make a purchase inspired by something they’ve pinned over the course of a week, such prompts on Instagram have the potential to advance goals of driving in-app sales. Engadget further speculated that influencers and social media stars could build collections that drive sales of their endorsed products, not unlike an Amazon Wishlist- but more visually compelling.

And for the platform overall, Public Collections solves an attribution problem that has proliferated on the site as memes, screenshotted text, and other images circulate without proper credit. By collecting posts while still tying them to their sources, Instagram could become a place where creators can share with less fear of content being stolen inordinately.

Instagram refuted work on the feature, telling TechCrunch adamantly that it was “not testing this.” But that only means that tests are not currently taking place- not that the feature isn’t being developed.

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