Instagram now lets you share Stories to a Close Friends list

No one wants to post silly, racy, or vulnerable Stories if theyre worried their boss, parents, and distant acquaintances are watching. So to get people sharing more, and more authentically, Instagram will let you share to fewer people. Today after 17 months of testing, Instagram is globally launching Close Friends on iOS and Android over the next two days. It lets you build a single private list of your best buddies on Instagram through suggestions or search, and then share Stories just to them. Theyll see a green circle around your profile pic in the existing Story tray to let them know this is Close Friends-only content, but no one gets notified if theyre added or removed from your list that only you can view.
Instagram now lets you share Stories to a Close Friends list
As you add more and more people [on any social network], you start not to know them. Thats obviously going to change the things that youre sharing and it makes it even harder to form every deep connections with your closest friends because youre basically curating for the largest possible distribution, said Instagram director of product Robby Stein, who announced the news onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.To really be yourself and connect and be connected to your best friends, you need your own place.
I spent the last few days demoing Close Friends and its remarkably smooth, intuitive, and useful. Suddenly there was a place to post what I might otherwise consider too random or embarrassing to share. Teens already invented the idea of Finstagrams, or fake Instagram accounts, to share feed posts to just their favorite people without the pressure to look cool. Now Instagram is formalizing that idea into Finstastories through Close Friends.
The feature is a wise way to counteract the natural social graph creep that occurs as people accept social networking requests out of a sense of obligatory courtesy from people they arent close to, which then causes them to only share blander content. Helping people express their wild side as must-see content for their Close Friends could drive up time spent on the app. But theres also the risk that the launch creates private echo sphere havens for offensive content beyond the eyes of those whod rightfully report it.
No one has ever mastered a close friends graph and made it easy for people to understand Stein notes.The path to variable sharing privacy winds through a cemetery. Facebooks Lists product struggled to find traction for a decade before being half-shut down. Google+s big selling point was Circles for sharing to different groups of people. But with both, user found it too boring and confusing to make a bunch of different lists they could share to or view feeds from. Snapchat launched its own Groups feature two months ago, but its easy to forget whos in which list and theyre designed around group chat. Most users just end up trying their best to reject, unfollow, or mute people they didnt want to see or share with.

Instagram now lets you share Stories to a Close Friends list
Now after almost 15 years of Facebook, 12 years of Twitter, 8 years of Instagram, and 7 years of Snapchat, that strategy has failed for many, leading to noisy feeds and a fear of sharing to too many. People get friend requests and they feel pressure to accept Stein explains. The curve is actually that your sharing goes up and as you add more people initially, as more people can respond to you. But then theres a point where it reduces sharing over time.
So Instagram chose to build Close Friends as just a single list in hopes that you wont lose track of whos part of it. As the feature rolls out today, therell be an explainer Story from Instagram about it in your tray, youll get walked through when you hit the Close Friends button on the Story composer, and therell be a call out on your profile to configure Close Friends in the settings menu. Youll be able to search for your close friends or quickly add them from a list of suggestions based on who you interact with most. You can add or remove as many people as you want without them knowing, they just will or wont see your green circled Close Friends story. Were protecting you and your right to share or not share to certain people. It gives you air cover Stein tells me
From then on, you can use the Close Friends shortcut in the Stories composer to share it with just those people, wholl see a green Close Friends label on the story to let them know theyre special. Instagram will use the signal of who you add to help rank and order your Stories tray, but it wont automatically pop Close Friends Stories to the front. When asked if Facebook would use that data for personalization too, Stein told me Were the same company but said using it to improve Facebook is not something that were actively working on.

Robby Stein (Instagram) debuts a new feature called Close Friends that allows users to share Stories with a small group of friends #TCDisrupt
TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) November 30, 2018
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