Not to be outdone by Snapchat — aka the hugely popular app that I feel way too old to understand, even at 30 — Instagram announced Tuesday the addition of Instagram Stories, which, is, uh, basically Snapchat for Instagram. The new feature allows users to share photos and videos (complete with text, emojis, and Snapchat-esque drawing tools) to a separate feed that doesn't show up in their grids, and which are deleted after 24 hours. Since I couldn't even figure out the basics of how to even use Snapchat, Instagram Stories definitely seems like a more accessible version for those of us who thought we were more technologically inclined then we actually are, and I'll admit, is something that seems pretty cool now that I actually know what it is. But if you also happen to be not quite sure what you're doing, you might want to know how to block people from seeing your Instagram story — either for privacy reasons, or just because you're still trying to get the hang of it.

According to the official Instagram blog, Instagram Stories is pretty easy to use. When you open the app, you'll see a row of stories hanging out above your usual Instagram feed, and to view them, you just tap on the circle of the user whose story you want to see. Swiping right and left will allow you to scroll through all the stories in the feed, and tapping on the pic will let you view more stories from that particular user. Adding your own is pretty easy too — just tap on the add symbol in the top left corner, and share away. If your Instagram account is already set to private (that is, if other IG users can only see your feed once they send you a request and you approve it), then your Instagram Story will automatically only be visible to your followers.

If not, or if you want to prevent even your approved followers from seeing your stuff, then you have some options there, too. After posting your story, you can swipe up on it to see who has viewed it, and from there you can choose to hide it from certain users. Or, if you already know who you want to block from viewing your stories, you can go into "Story settings" in your account options, and individually hide your stories from your followers before you've even uploaded anything.


Despite the buzz over the latest update (and the fact that Instagram has pretty much figured out a way to make Snapchat-like sharing cool for people over 25), a lot of the reactions on social media revolve around two common things: the fact that Instagram basically ripped off Snapchat completely, and a renewed sense of frustration that Instagram has launched the stories feature instead of doing what a lot of people actually wanted it to do, which was bring back the chronological feed, and add in a "who follows you" feature.

To the first accusation, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says, well, yeah that's totally accurate. According to TechCrunch, Systom said that "[Snapchat deserves] all the credit," for Instagram Stories, and explained,

This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.
Facebook invented feed, LinkedIn took on feed, Twitter took on feed, Instagram took on feed, and they all feel very different now and they serve very different purposes. But no one looks down at someone for adopting something that is so obviously great for presenting a certain type of information.

There's no doubt that Instagram Stories is a way for Instagram to stay competitive against the huge success of Snapchat, but Systrom said there was also more to it than that. At a time where Instagram has become an app which seems, first and foremost, about perfectly-curated feeds and edited, filtered photos (and one where many users will often delete photos if they don't earn enough likes or comments), Instagram Stories is meant to be a way to bring back a more spontaneous form of sharing that existed in the earlier days of Instagram, and that — ideally — would steer people away from missing authentic moments because they were so busy making sure they looked perfect for their feeds and followers.

Ironically though, at least in the first couple of days, it appears that a lot of users have taken to using Instagram Stories to promote their Snapchat accounts. It's not entirely clear whether it's a snarky attempt to hit back against what many feel was blatant copying on the part of Instagram, or just because people on Snapchat are always finding creative ways to grow their followings, but either way, it's led to some entertaining Twitter commentary.

The popularity of Instagram Stories compared to Snapchat is still to be seen — usually it takes a while for the collective Internet outrage to die down before the more long-term impact is obvious — but my guess is that, Snapchat rip off or not, a lot more people will be sharing Snapchat-like updates now thanks to Instagram Stories. Mostly because, well, it just something that doesn't feel totally confusing to figure out when you're old and lame.