Thanks, I Hate It: Instagram Turns 10

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Every day, I open up my phone and stare at photos from the lives of people I hardly know until I start to feel bad about myself. That’s because I use Instagram, the highly addictive photo-sharing app founded 10 years ago today.

Facebook gets a lot of flack for propagating disinformation and collecting highly personal information about its users. But Instagram, which Facebook owns, is the same beast in a different disguise. The Instagram algorithm feeds me stories and posts from the users whose accounts I interact with most often; when I hate-stalk college acquaintances who live in mansions or flout social distancing guidelines, the app remembers, and provides me with the content I loathe. It knows my location and my browser history and hits me with targeted ads that are eerily close to things I might actually want to buy. And I, along with everyone else I know, submit to all of this because otherwise I might miss out on a really good meme.

It will be interesting to see how social media winds up affecting this election. I think one of the ways Instagram manages to retain its good graces is that it seems to be less a cesspool of mis- and disinformation than a resource for socially conscious young people to engage with activism—even if only superficially. I see countless reminders to register to vote on people’s Instagram stories every day. The question is whether it’ll make a difference.

Enjoy the rest of your afternoon. And follow Mother Jones on Instagram while you’re at it.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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