Instagram launches scannable Nametags, tests school networks for teen growth | Apps

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When your feed and Stories tray go stale, or your follower count stops rising, you drift away from . That’s why the app is rolling out two big new features designed to connect you to new people and diversify your graph so there’s alwasy something surprising to look at and like.

Today Instagram its QR Snapcode-style  globally on iOS and Android, after TechCrunch broke the news on the feature back in March and April. Though not technically QR codes, they’re scanned like them to let you follow people you meet offline.

The customizable codes are accessible from the three-line hamburger menu on your profile. They can be scanned when other users tap and hold on your code through the Instagram Stories camera or Scan Nametag button on your own Nametag to instantly follow you. You can add colors, emojis, or AR-embellished selfies to your Instagram Nametag, show it off on your phone to help people follow you in person, put it on your website or social media, or message it to friends through SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, and more.

It’s actually surprising it took this long for Instagram to copy Snapchat’s Snapcodes that debuted for profiles in 2015 and were later expanded to open websites and unlock AR filters. Facebook Messenger launched its own QR codes in April 2017, though never quite caught on. But they make a ton of sense on Instagram since it’s tougher to share links on the app, people often treat it as their primary presence on the web that they want to promote, and because businesses are increasingly relying on the app for commerce. It’s easy to imagine brands putting their Instagram Nametags on billboards and posters, or buying ads to promote them around the web.

Facebook Messenger and Snapchat’s QR codes

Secondly, Instagram is starting to test communities in a variety of universities across the US. The allow you to join your university’s network to add a line to your profile listing your , class year, and your major, sports team, or fraternity/sorority. You’ll show up in a directory listing everyone from your that you can use to follow or message people, though those DMs may go to their pending inbox.

The school communities feature harkens back to Facebook’s origins when users could actually set their privacy to show all their content to everyone in their school. Here you won’t be able to instantly expose your private Instagram to everyone from your school. You could imagine a freshman in college going through their network to discover new potential friends to follow, or an alumni seeking out others from their Alma Mater in search of business or romance.

Instagram relies on info users have publicly shared about their school and the people they followed to verify if they were in fact a student or recent alumni of a university. Rather than actively signing up, users will get a notification prompting them to join the network.That’s a lot less reliable than using university email addresses for verification like Facebook used to, but also a lot simpler for users.

The company does provide a tool for alerting it to misuse of the school communities feature in case any sketchy older users are employing it as a stalking tool. Beside each user’s name is a three-dot button that opens a menu where users can report  Next to each user’s name is an overflow menu of 3 dots where people can report accounts they don’t think belong in a certain community.

Today’s launch is the first under Instagram’s new leader Adam Mosseri following the resignation of the company’s founders. Critics are watching to see if Mosseri, the former Facebook VP of News Feed and member of Mark Zuckerberg’s inner circle, will push harder to drive and monetization for Instagram. Given Instagram’s priority here is expanding its social graphs and keeping users engaged, it seems willing to trade occasionally allowing or disallowing the wrong people to reduce friction and juice .

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