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Instagram had been testing a new feature with which users can now create a list of friends. Called Favorites, users can now share posts with a smaller group of people rather than all of their followers. The feature is an upgrade to old social network friend lists.

Users had been trying to make a more private Instagram version for themselves. They would post pictures publicly and delete them after being liked by their friends, or create a separate account known as a “Finstagram.” Usually set up by teens, these secret accounts are used to share their unedited photos with a select group of people. These accounts usually have a high following, and as a result, they either tend to use it more than their Instagram account or quit using Instagram entirely due to social pressure.

Robby Stein, Instagram’s product lead, recognizes that people are trying to “hack” Instagram to create smaller audiences. “The best version of Instagram is one where you feel closer to the people you are connected to,” he says.

The new Favorites feature could have a significant impact on the way people are currently using the platform. It would reshape the social dynamics of Instagram and create a sense of intimacy among followers.

If a user marks a friend as one of their favorites, it will likely encourage their friend to follow and like their posts. Getting an increased number of likes will, in turn, encourage users to share more pictures to their favorites on the platform. Their favorites are more likely to mark the user as their own favorite, which goes on to increase more private groups.

This feature works for both regular pictures and Instagram Story posts, where users will see new options to share them to their favorites.Users concerned with their privacy would have greater control over who gets to see their pictures. Favorites won’t be notified if a user adds or remove them to their personal list. The new feature would allow users to create a group of selected friends who can view certain posts and there would be no option for someone to request to be on that list.

Every profile will get a new Favorites tab denoted by a star. Posts that are shared only with Favorites will appear in this tab so that users can keep track of which posts are private. If someone is on the user’s Favorite list, they would be able to view the user’s favorite post on the Favorite tab. Pictures shared with them will be denoted by a green Favorites badge at the top of posts.

If a user removes someone from their list, they won’t be able to access the user’s private photos anymore, even those which were shared while they were on the list. If they visit the Favorites tab, it will be empty.

This feature had reportedly been tested over a “small percentage” of users for over a year before a full rollout in the coming months. It’s not clear when the feature would be implemented, but nearly every portion of the app will be tweaked to accommodate it. Robby Stein, Instagram’s product lead, added that they “really want to get this right.”

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