May 24, 2024
Instagram's 'Sharing to Reels' feature opens up to all app developers

Instagram is considering a new feature called “flipside” that allows users to establish a new, private side to their profile where they could post more candid and personal photos for a subset of their friends. The feature essentially productizes “finstas” — the slang term for alternate Instagram accounts where people post their real-life photos, as opposed to the more polished photos they post on their public Instagrams.

The term entered the mainstream discourse years ago and even became the subject of a line of Congressional questioning when the ill-informed U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal asked the company’s head of global safety Antigone Davis: “will you commit to ending finsta?,” leading to a wave of online mocking. But at the heart of the question was the idea that Instagram’s younger users, like teens, were setting up private accounts outside of parent’s knowledge and Instagram was profiting from them.

With “flipside,” Instagram could make it easier to share photos and videos with a private group of friends, without having to establish an entirely separate account — or, perhaps, one existing outside the bounds of Instagram’s parental controls.

The feature was spotted in development by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who noted it was originally called “Your Space.” Based on screenshots he pulled from the Instagram app, the company explains that “flipside” refers to “a new space just for you and your friends” where “only the people you choose can see this side of your profile and what you share here.”

To get to a user’s flipside, you’d swipe down on their profile to be flipped over to the other side, so to speak.

Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch the project is an internal prototype for the time being and has not yet entered public tests.

The development, however, follows the expansion of features that allow users to target some content only to their close friends. Initially designed for sharing more private stories, Instagram’s “Close Friends” feature in November came to the app’s main feed. That meant that users could share a photo, video, or reel to a subset of their friends on the app, which only those users could see and comment on. With “flipside,” if it goes live, those posts could presumably then live within a separate side of the user’s profile, instead of being mixed in the main feed.

In addition to saving users the hassle of setting up an alternate account, the feature could potentially challenge rival social apps designed for close friends, like BeReal, which prompts users to post candid photos daily and is now adding private groups, or other private sharing networks like Locket and similar apps which include Home Screen widgets where friends’ new photos appear. It could also attract users who had relied on X’s Close Friends-like Circles feature (formerly Twitter Circles), which was recently shut down.

Instagram didn’t have more to share about flipside’s development, but Paluzzi found that users would be able to establish a profile picture, name, and bio for their flipside that differed from their public profile. The feature also included tools to manage which friends could see your flipside and an option to “remove everyone” for a fresh start. He noted that everything users share on their flipside would still be subject to Instagram’s community guidelines, however, which means it wouldn’t be a sexting option.

The company didn’t confirm if or when flipside would launch publicly, and often internal prototypes remain just that. Still, the feature would be an interesting addition to Instagram’s service, as it would capitalize on how people already use the app today. It could increase engagement as well, as users went in search of their friends’ flipside, and then browsed a second set of posts.


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