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UK Insights

Instagram launches a polling feature... where choices are public

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Social 10.10.2017 / 16:00


The social media platform has added new functionality to add ‘polls’ to Instagram Stories, giving users a new way to engage with content.

Users now have a way to add an interactive POLL sticker to their Stories – the transient content that users share, distinct from the posts that stay permanently on their profile page.  

However, the feature has come under criticism from users after they realised that polling choices were made public. This is clearly highlighted when someone clicks on a poll, and in Instagram's launch blog post, but it caught some embarrassed early adopters unaware.  

Instagram -Polling -Shady

One of the big trends in social media has been increasing engagement options. As social media platforms evolve, they also need to add new features that encourage a two-way interaction. 

Izzy Pugh, Global Director – Cultural Strategy at Kantar Added Value, commented: 'You could see this as harmless fun. It certainly does increase the community aspect of Instagram, making users much more likely to respond to and interact with a ‘story’ and the user behind this. This becomes problematic, though, when users are not fully informed that their choices in polls are public. Not such a worry if it is pizza vs pasta, but more worrying if users are asking their community to share political opinions or views on contentious topics where they might not necessarily be happy sharing with others. It’s just another example of how users should always read the small print.

'The more interesting question that I would have, however, is: who else might be ‘listening in on’ or registering your preferences? Is this the beginning of Instagram starting to gather more data about its community of users and their preferences, allegiances and tendencies? And if so, can we expect to see more detailed analytics being made available about their user base in the future?'

Jane Ostler, MD of media & digital at Kantar Millward Brown in the UK, says: 'Platforms do need to be explicit about what personal data is being shown to whom, when, and why. Twitter polls are anonymous, so you might have reasonably expected Instagram polls to be so too. On the other hand, Facebook ‘likes’ are visible to your friends, so you can easily see how they’ve reacted and how insensitive they are. I’m just relieved that no-one knows what I voted for in Richard Osman’s World Cup of Biscuits.'

Instagram updates were launched on 3 October and are available in Instagram version 16 and above in Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Click here for more insights from Kantar.

Source : Kantar Added Value, Kantar Millward Brown

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