Instagram users can now follow hashtags

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As reported by The Verge, Instagram is testing a "recommended for you" feature which will add content that has been liked by people that you follow into your feed.

According to a company blog post, all that users have to do is search for a topic they're interested in or tap on a hashtag from any post. Posts related to followed hashtags will appear in users' feed algorithmically, based on factors including recency and quality. But you could never follow a hashtag movement... until now.

With the update, marketers could use the discovery tool to reach targeted audiences and communities by including a desired hashtag in their posts to potentially boost reach.

Previously, Instagram users can only interact with hashtags by searching for them under the Explore section or by tapping on a hashtag mentioned in a post. From here you can also tap on "Following" next to a hashtag to unfollow it at any time. That could incentivize these users to post more hashtagged-content in hopes of having their posts surfaced in users' feeds, potentially luring new followers. The hashtags that people are following can be seen in their profiles beside the other accounts that they are following, though what is revealed depends on the user's privacy settings.

Many users will be concerned that this is another move from Instagram that will make the service increasingly unusable.

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Currently, when users want to share each someone's post, they have to either save the image and post it on via their own Instagram account, or use apps designed for this objective, such as Regram.

And earlier in the year, Instagram reportedly tested a favorite-friends feature which allows you to share content with a select group of friends.

The social media giant is evening trying out emoji shortcut words for things like "CONGRATULATIONS", which instantly suggest an emoji to use instead of certain text.

The addition, which could be rolled out to all users soon, makes it easier to track specific hashtags within the app. Instagram nearly certainly intends to monetize this feature, allowing it to sell positions in a hashtag's algorithm to companies that want to place editorial or advertorial content.

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