On the evening of September 26, Bailey Richardson last logged in to Instagram.
"It's time to wipe Instagram," wrote 20,000 followers, using her white trousers as a canvas. "Thank you for all kindness over the years."
Richardson's decision is not new: 68 percent of Americans left this year or made a break from social media, according to the Peev Research Center.
However, Richardson is not a technology observer: She was one of the 13 original employees who worked on Instagram in 2012 when Facebook bought a viral photo-sharing application for a billion dollars (about 7,200 circuits). She and four other people from this small group now say the sense of intimacy, art and discoveries that were defined by the early Instagram and led to its success, left the way to the market on a scale that was designed to capture the time and attention of the users at the cost of their well-being.
"In the first days you felt that your person was seen by people who were worried about you and that you were worried about," Richardson said, who left Instagram in 2014 and later founded the start. "That feeling is now completely gone for me."
Catalans for Richardson's decision to leave Instagram came when his co-founders, Kevin Sister and Mike Krieger, unexpectedly announced they were leaving the company. With their release, Richardson and other former Instagram employees worried that Facebook would diminish all the independent identities that the company was able to maintain.
She sent her farewell to Instagram the next day.
Even in the Silicon Valley, where the frequent man who starts the work becomes frustrated with management after the acquisition, the disappointment of early employees at Instagram is astounding: People rarely swear or criticize the product they made, especially when enjoying such extraordinary success. Instagram reached one billion users this year.
People who have long worked in social networks saw the connection and free expression that made it easier for them to act as a powerful force for good and evidence of the contribution they made to society. For them, the public examination of the role of social networks in democracy and individual life, caused by concerns about privacy and health, is deeply personal.
Three of Instagram's early employees, including Richardson, deleted it – permanently or periodically, comparing them with drugs that reduce the taller. One of the people said he felt a little confused when he told people to work there. Two of the early employees said they used it far less than before.
This change is part of an existential crisis for Facebook, which saw the killing of senior executives this year, including the leaders of its biggest acquisitions: Oculus, VhatsApp and Instagram. Some people also leave Facebook: in the last six months, he lost 4 million users in Europe, and growth has grown in the United States.
Instagram employees, including Richardson, said they hoped their concern would not be dismissed as nostalgia and would be seen as a call to future entrepreneurs to recognize these pitfalls and build something better.
"There was so much pressure that things that are" scaled "are used for the buzzword of Silicon Valley," said Josh Riedel, the third employee after Sisters and Krieger. "But when you have more than a billion users, something is lost on the road."
Ian Spalter, director of design for Instagram, said in an interview that Instagram's experience is subjective – one person's frustration can be the satisfaction of another person – and that the application is not designed to be a sucker. "We are not in the game to let Instagram get worse than when you entered," he said.
One of the lost founders of Facebook was VhatsApp's Brian Acton, he actively encouraged people to delete Facebook, although he is still a supporter and user of VhatsApp. (He also finances an application for the exchange of messages). Another former director of Facebook expressed regret over the products they made. Instagram's Sister continues to expand the service, but recently said about his departure: "You do not leave the job, because everything is great, is not it?"
When Richardson joined Instagram in February 2012, at the age of 26, the former art historian was drawn to what was then a fast-growing indie platform for photographers, hipsters and artists who wanted to share interesting or nice things that were discovered about the world. At the time, Instagram was a "camera that looked into the world," one of the company's first engineers said, "opposite the camera that was all about myself, my friends, whom I am with."
Richardson launched the initial blog as well as the official @ instagram account from the company's offices in the neighborhood of San Francisco. Before there were software algorithms indicating the following accounts, Richardson chose Instagrammers manually. For the most concealed users, she organized the person "Insta-meets" in places that were separated as Moscow and North Korea.
"We felt like stewards of that passion," Richardson said.
One of the first people to appear was the early Instagrammer in Spain. Richardson's exposure gave @ IsabelitaVirtual, an amateur photographer whose real name was Isabel Martinez, helped Martinez become one of the most popular Instagram users in the country and lead to a career in top fashion photography.
Both say that such a coincidence that resulted in their friendship is hardly possible in the current Instagram iteration. Too many people who follow, too many shows, too many blinking messages, they say. "I do not even see my position," Richardson said. Martinez told The Post that, until she left Instagram for professional reasons, the application has become more productive in recent years than she is comfortable with.
Even in the early days, Richardson was aware that the application had a dark side. She was one of the first moderators of the content and spent many days and weekends ejecting pornographic and other undesirable images that appeared as the application grew.
A few months after Richardson started her job at Instagram, Sister announced dozens of employees that the company bought Facebook – all surprised. The entire team entered the bus and drove about 30 miles south to Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, where Facebook employees were applauded when they entered the building. Executive Director Mark Zuckerberg took them to his office, where he excited them and convinced them to maintain their unique identity.
Richardson said she was excited, but she was scared. Purchase details were still dark. In the end, only Sisters and Krieger went with hundreds of millions of dollars; Facebook has offered other early employees low sign-in bonuses and limited grants to Facebook for stay. And Facebook has had a reputation for disposing users with its privacy-related scandals, including fees that the Federal Trade Commission decided last year to share the personal data of people who thought they were private with developers and the public.
A few months later, the team was officially installed in Menlo Park, where Instagram received a special space on the campus for work.
Her employees were considered cold children in the campus. They figured out how to make the product only for smartphones, a virus that is something that Facebook is still trying to achieve in advance of its upcoming public offering.
But there were things that Facebook wanted to improve about Instagram. Facebook's growth team – an influential unit whose goal was to identify and implement user acquisition measures and retain them for engagement – came in and chose each feature of the application, said three former employees.
No detail was small. The team helped install Instagram's noteworthy application process, which prompted users. She borrowed techniques that worked on Facebook, such as sending users an email alert about their friend's activities when they did not use the application at some time. They marked photo-tagging, much of the frustration of Instagram employees, who thought these features were too closely linked to Facebook and would fall with Instagram's user base, four employees said.
The photo tagging feature has caused "emotional anxiety," said an early engineer. "He introduced a completely new dynamics."
Richardson's team of about six employees, who was focused on managing the most frustrating Instagram users, was also focused on the changes. Facebook told them that the software should replace handheld processes so the product could scale the big audience, said Richardson and two former employees.
Richardson said she was obsessed "not because of his boldness or because of how strange it was to me, and I felt my contribution, but because of the misunderstanding of what we were trying to do."
She began planning to leave and resign in 2014, along with most employees. Until then, the application had more than 200 million users, compared to about 30 million at the time of purchase. According to him, three of the top 13 employees are still on Instagram or on Facebook.
Instagram moved to algorithmic food in 2016 – before the posts were in chronological order – and the software now mostly makes a discovery on behalf of users, feeding them customized content. The Stories function, which was added the same year, featured the flickering of the Instagram design element by automatically overloading new stories in the carousel. The result of these changes, and others before, was the increase in the number of followers, the production of larger social networks with weaker connections and more time spent in the application.
Richardson, who is a big fan of hedgehog, has found himself on several of them on Instagram. "I clicked one, but then I have dozens, which is more than my brain can do," she said. "All agency is taken away from her."
Spag, the chief designer of Instagram, said Instagram's rapid growth required the company to build tools to help people find posts and users. "We have a billion people," he said. "It means we have content from every strange niche of interest, and we've made it easy for you to find things. It's also the beauty that you have a much larger community."
Instagram is aware that its software has offered too much freedom of content and content to people with a high accompaniment to the posts of people who users know personally, according to Spalter, who joined Instagram in 2015. The company has restarted software to adjust the balance, he said.
"Managing Balance is Crucial to Instagram's Future … If food goes down with celebrities, it will no longer be pleasant to share content with your friends," he said. "I have how, in the early days, when you are in contact with everyone, this is very special. We are in the second stage of development at this moment, and this is a different world in this way, but it is still where people connect."
He added that Instagram released tools in August to help people manage the time they spend on the application.
Richardson says Content on Instagram is now "too eager for your attention". Before, "you had to make an effort to find someone, and that meant something for you and for the people you found. Today, I am stunned as little honor is given to every part of the content."
After leaving Instagram, Richardson traveled around the world, introducing Instagram users to whom he was online. It eventually settled in New York, where it founded a start up called People & Compani, where it helps non-profit businesses and companies, including Nike, to find ways to connect with their online audience.
He says he does not actively think about Instagram by the end of September, when news of how his founders resigned – once again surprised most of his employees.
Richardson was flooded with memories. She recalled the first meeting with Martinez, and has since changed. She invited a friend from Instagram and concluded that Instagram no longer has value in her life. Together, they decided to give up. She wrote the last post while she was sitting in her car.
"It seems that we are all addicted to drugs that do not lead us higher," she said of the decision. "That's why I wanted to make room for something that really works."
© Washington Post 2018