Instagram Finally Addresses #Hashtag Abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Today, Instagram made a giant change in the way hashtagged photos are displayed, and in doing so took a huge bite out of users’ hashtag abuse. Previously, a user could (and many did) add hashtags to their photos hours, days, even months after a photo was originally posted. This allowed for an entire new round of “likes” from people searching a hashtag and clicking on the photos most recently tagged. Now, you can still add all the hashtags you want after posting your image, but your photos will no longer appear at the top of the search. That means adding 25 fresh hashtags, 3 weeks after you posted your photo, won’t show up unless the searcher is willing to scroll through 3 weeks’ worth of images bearing that particular hashtag.

I’ve talked about Instagram and hashtags before. Yes, hashtags have their place. But after seeing so many users game the system by continuously deleting, then adding, new rounds of hashtags, it’s nice to see Instagram taking steps toward rendering this tactic useless.


3 things I do on Instagram I know you hate

I’ve been posting on Instagram lately. A lot. But social media is the same as every other aspect of life, so nothing you do will please everyone. And I refuse to kowtow to your specifications as to what I should or shouldn’t share on my personal account. I’m not rubbing these in your face, because I too took some time to get a feel for the dos and don’ts of IG, but I unapologetically:

  • 1. use filters.
The Gardens at the Art Institute

The Gardens at the Art Institute

Man, do I ever. Especially that saturation button. I wish I had two of those for my eyes. Chastise me if you must, but I like bright, bold colors. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for subtle hues (ok, I didn’t enjoy typing that) and black-and-white photography,  but I happen to prefer adding a little extra brilliance to photos.

Do I sometimes add too much? Maybe. But if my pictures –certain pictures, I should say — look more like paintings than photos, I think I’m doing something right, not wrong. Do the buildings in my architectural shots look a bit unnatural to you? So be it. I’m not trying to preserve the world for future generations through photography. I’m not National Geographic, Architectural Digest, or Dull Pictorial Weekly. I’m a guy with an iPhone.

  • 2. use hashtags.

Admittedly, I took a while to warm up to them. Mostly because I didn’t realize their usefulness within the Instagram community.  That’s understandable when you see people using 60 (SIXTY) or so tags on each photo. I do effort to be sure all hashtags are relevant to my photo, should it be a geographic tag, or a group of photogs who share a common interest or theme. What I won’t do is use meaningless “follow me” or “like4like” tags. I won’t use hashtags solely because of their popularity, like adding the name of 50 international cities in the hopes people searching for pictures of Berlin, for example, will shoot me a like for that image of breakfast I just posted.

Hashtags are useful. They bring eyeballs to your page, likes to your photos, and followers to your account. If, of course, you’re into that sort of thing. Instagram is, after all, a social site. Otherwise, I’d just paste Polaroids in my diary where I write all the useless drivel I know no one on Twitter wants me to share. But I feel I use them correctly. And wisely. Try them yourself. Just keep it to about a dozen or so.

  • 3. post mostly one theme.


I’ve fallen in love with the architecture of Chicago, and that’s what I’ve been focused on lately. Granted, if I were traveling, I’d be taking pictures of buildings in other cities too. So it’s not just Chicago. That just happens to be the closest, material-rich place for me to shoot. I try to mix it up a little, with some flowers here and there, maybe even (sigh) a food pic thrown in now and then if I’m eating something or some place special. Of course, humor plays an important part in everything I do, so when I find something funny I can photograph, I’ll share that too. But mostly, it’s buildings. Um, upright buildings. I refuse to do the building-on-its-side shot. But that’s a bullet point for the ‘things I hate that YOU do’ post.

A few times a year — not an hour, a year — I’ll post a picture of myself. Not because I look totally different than I did this morning when I posted the am-selfie, but because I’ve accomplished something unique, or visited somewhere or someone I want to keep a memory of. These are rare, as well they should be. Again, that’s why I have a diary.

Most of the feedback I get on Instagram is overwhelmingly positive. But there will always be those precious few who can’t stand what you do. Especially if they notice someone else liking it. Not a problem. You’re welcome to leave my page just as quickly as you arrived. Just don’t be like I was, making that judgement before you have a complete understanding of what Instagram is, and how it can be used. It’s a fun place.