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The OG App – Meta blocks the ad-free Instagram app

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Instagram isn’t what it used to be. What started as a straightforward photo sharing app has evolved into a bloated TikTok-wannabe that prioritizes video content over photography, serves countless adverts, and increasingly shows a feed populated with strangers in preference to posts from people you actually know and follow.

Creators have been complaining for a while that Instagram’s “algorithm” is steadily making it difficult for them to reach an audience without paying for ad space, while plenty of regular users consider the app experience to be worse than the good old days where you’d simply post a photo, and your friends would see it. Parent company Meta (né Facebook) doesn’t seem to care about this kind of feedback, instead doubling down on algorithm changes that surface even less of what you actually asked for.

If you’re one of the people who feels this way about Instagram, good news: The OG App is here to change all that! At least, it was until it was removed from the App Store just a few days after going live.

The OG App is a third-party Instagram client that attempted to build something better than Meta’s official offering, inspired by the OG Instagram. You log into your existing Instagram account, and get access to all the standard features you’re used to. But this version has no algorithm telling you what to consume. Instead, you manually create feeds of stuff you’re interested in, and follow the people you want to follow. It also has no adverts, which users will appreciate but Meta, not so much.

Check out The OG App’s website for its manifesto on what Instagram should be like.

The app survived long enough to garner around 10,000 downloads before Apple pulled it from the App Store, most likely in the wake of complaints from Meta, who claimed the app violates its policies. Meta is treating The OG App like the fraudulent clone sites that it rightfully takes down to protect users, even going so far as to block the accounts of anyone who worked on the app – but the reality here is slightly different.

It’s a strange situation, because there is plenty of precedent for third-party apps that build off an existing platform and remain very welcome on the App Store. The discerning iPhone user doesn’t use the Twitter app, they use Tweetbot; they don’t use the Reddit app, they use Apollo. These apps refine the experience, strip away annoyances, and add power features. Their developers listen to user feedback and give the people what they want. For a moment, it looked as though The OG App might do the same for Instagram.

It’s worth noting the app is still live on Android, with its more relaxed views on moderation, and the team behind The OG App says it’s doing what it can to get the app back on the App Store. But Meta is a powerful entity, and it really likes serving ads to people. So the chances of its lawyers allowing The OG App to continue existing on iOS is slim.