Meta Tests Holding Your Instagram Hostage With Unscrollable Ads

Meta is testing unskippable Instagram ads, first reported by TechCrunch on Monday, alongside the patience of every user who has to put up with the feature. The unskippable ads, which some users shared their experience with on other social media platforms this weekend, force users to sit through a timed ad before they can scroll onward.

“We’re always testing formats that can drive value for advertisers,” a Meta company spokesperson told Gizmodo in a statement. “As we test and learn, we will provide updates should this test result in any formal product changes.”

Ah yes, the latest trend in late-stage tech media: driving more value for advertisers. Overblown companies like Meta can’t grow their user bases anymore (too big), so they look to squeeze more profit out of each user. Growing your user base involves making a better experience to attract users, but now these companies are trying to see how many ads you’ll put up with before leaving the app.

The same thing is going on with the streaming companies. Netflix, Max, and Prime Video have introduced more ads and cracked down on password sharing in the last year. YouTube has caught the bug as well, making the app nearly unusable with most ad blockers. We may have been in a golden age of media for the last 20 years, but Instagram’s test is the latest sign that it’s over now.

“You’re seeing an ad break,” says a popup on Instagram when seeing the feature. “Ad breaks are a new way of seeing ads on Instagram. Sometimes you may need to view an ad before you keep browsing.”

As always with feature tests, there’s no guarantee Meta will make this feature widespread. They’re just trying it out. This feature doesn’t seem very complicated from a technical standpoint, so it feels more like Instagram is testing whether you, the beloved user, are willing to deal with it. The company wants to see if you respond well to an advertiser rendering your Instagram unusable for 5-10 seconds while it attempts to sell you something.

TikTok has done similar tests recently to increase the effectiveness of ads. The app has proposed using AI to make every video on the platform an ad for the TikTok shop. These proposed changes show how social media is less about connecting you to other people these days and more about connecting you with an advertiser.

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