Culture

T-Pain missed out on iconic celeb collabs because Instagram’s UX sucks

Perhaps Instagram would be easier to navigate if it weren't trying to be 10 different apps at once.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: T-Pain attends Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "Bad Boys For Life"  at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 14, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Leon Bennett/WireImage/Getty Images

Instagram’s user interface has changed drastically in the last few years, often to the detriment of user experience. Sometimes this is a minor nuisance — and other times it makes the social network borderline unusable. T-Pain, iconic rapper, songwriter, and producer, felt this pain to the extreme this week after discovering an entire folder of Direct Messages he hadn’t known even existed. He’s been inadvertently ignoring celebrity DMs for years. All because Instagram’s user interface is a mess.

“I was today years old when I found out about the request folder on Instagram that’s full of celebs trying to reach me,” he writes on a recent TikTok video about the problem. He scrolls through this hidden DM inbox in the background of the TikTok.

There are some really huge names here — Fergie, Viola Davis, YBN Nahmir, Diplo, just to name a few. “How do I super apologize?” he asks in the caption of his Instagram post with the same video. “Press conference? Town hall meeting? I’m dumb.”

T-Pain, if by any slim chance you’re reading this, we want you to know you’re not stupid for not knowing this DM inbox exists. Instagram’s user interface sucks for not making it immediately obvious that people are sending you messages — important people, for that matter.

UX failure — Instagram has taken up one of its parent company Facebook’s worst habits: feature bloat. Long gone are the days of a clean Instagram experience comprised of simply scrolling, liking, and commenting on photos from friends and family served up in the order in which they were posted.

Instagram wants to be a one-stop-shop now. Instagram wants to be TikTok; Instagram wants to be a full-fledged shopping platform; Instagram wants to be a blogging platform, too. Back in November 2020, the main app was completely overhauled to make these fresh features (read: the ones Zuckerberg wants people to use more) more in-your-face. Posting options and notifications have been relegated to small buttons in the upper-right corner.

Pour one out for the missed collabs — Adding to this in-app chaos is Instagram’s decision to merge DMs with Facebook Messenger messages. There are about a hundred inboxes (a slight exaggeration, sure) into which your messages can be sorted and hidden at the will of Instagram’s algorithms. It’s no wonder at all that T-Pain missed out on so many.

Other celebrities are commiserating with T-Pain in the comments section of his posts. “Omg I literally just did the same exact thing like two days ago 😩,” wrote Ashanti. “SAME WTFFF,” Meghan Trainor commented.

You’re not imagining it: Instagram’s user experience has gone down the drain. Hopefully, some of the company’s execs take notice of T-Pain’s pain... and consider steps to alleviate it.