By Karissa Bell
Ever feel like Instagram is a bit of a popularity contest? If you don’t already, the app’s latest update might change your mind.
The app just added a new type of sticker for Instagram Stories that lets friends “request” to join a group chat right from your Story.
Here’s how it works: the new sticker, rolling out to the app now, appears alongside the rest of the Stories stickers. Once you choose it, you add a text prompt about what you want to chat about. Friends who view the post tap “join chat” for the chance to be in the group DM. The person who posted the sticker gets to control who can join and can end the chat whenever they want.
On one hand, this could make it easier to arrange group messages, which Instagram Direct has never really been optimized for. And, from its promotional materials for the update, Instagram appears to be positioning the new sticker as a way for groups of friends to chat about specific topics, like an upcoming party, for a short period of time.
On the other hand, it’s not difficult to imagine the new sticker could make some people feel excluded or, worse, bullied. Bullying has long been an issue on the app, particularly for young people whose social lives are heavily influenced by what happens on Instagram. Requesting to join these group chats could become a new form of social pressure.
On the other other hand, I could see the feature being of interest to influencers and other high-profile accounts, who may use the new group chat feature as a promotion or to reward certain followers.
Regardless, don’t be surprised if you start seeing new “join chat” stickers invade your feed.