Instagram is testing in-app notifications for service outages

The app is also adding a new 'account status' feature for personalized notifications.


One week after a massive Facebook outage that took all of the social network’s apps offline for more than six hours, Instagram says it’s testing notifications that will alert users to “temporary issues” like outages or other technical issues.

The new alerts would appear in users’ Activity Feed, alongside other in-app notifications. The messages could be used to let users know about specific issues, like Story uploads not working, or a more widespread problem, like the two outages last week. Importantly, Instagram says it doesn’t plan to alert users to every issue, but ones that may be a source of widespread confusion.

“We won’t send a notification every single time there is an outage, but when we see that people are confused and looking for answers, we’ll determine if something like this could help make things clearer,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. The company added that it’s testing the feature in the US “for the next few months.”

Three phones with the Instagram app's

Separately, Instagram also showed off a new “account status” section of its app, which is meant to alert users to “what's going on with your account” more generally. Instagram says it’s starting with notifications about posts that are removed and when an account “is at risk of being disabled” due to rule violations.

According to Instagram, the feature is meant to make it easier for users to understand why a post may have been removed, and whether or not they may be in danger of losing an account altogether. While the app has notified users in the past when a post is labeled or removed, the company hasn’t always done a good job letting people know which policy they violated. The Oversight Board has repeatedly told Facebook it needs to do a better job at explaining rules to users, and account status could help them do just that.

Account status could also help the app address a more Instagram-specific issue: concerns over “shadowbanning.” Instagram says that “in the coming months” it plans to update account status to let people know “how their content is being distributed and recommended across different parts of Instagram.”