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Instagram users mistakenly believe new question feature is anonymous


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People thought they could make unkind comments with recourse before discovering users could see who was asking what


Instagram’s constant kamikaze launch of new features, in which they desperately try to hold on to their sizeable but fickle user-base by throwing new story modes and face filters at them, installed an interesting new question and answer function this week.

The feature is similar to sites like Ask.fm and the now-defunct Formspring, where users could ask anonymous questions of each other, with the answers made public. Some people used these sites to secretly tell someone they had a crush on them, or ask something they’d be too frightened to say in public, but they also became hotbeds of high school bullying and were blamed for a spate of suicides.

The big difference with Instagram’s version of the feature, is that the questions aren’t anonymous, you can see which of your followers asked it – although this isn’t made explicit. In fact Instagram confuses users by telling them that if their question is shared, their username won’t be displayed.

It’s true that if the person you’re sending a question to decides to share your question publicly, your username is removed. However, what is not made clear is that the recipient is still able to see your username.

This has led to quite a few people mistakenly believing that they are asking questions anonymously. Twitter was awash with disaster stories from people who thought they could get away with incognito behaviour:

Fortunately for users worried about falling into a similar trap, the question feature is customisable. So while most people are using it for the default “Ask me a question” at the moment, in the future it could be used for less dangerous requests like “Where’s a good place to go for a beer in Chicago?”, “Can anyone recommend a plumber?” or “Does anyone know how to delete Instagram after I accidentally told all my friends their babies were ugly?”


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