Influencers, brace yourselves: Instagram may be considering charging a fee to add links to photo captions, a patent application suggests. Mike Murphy discovered it as part of his (fascinating!) weekly roundup of tech patents over at Protocol.
The patent application, which Instagram parent company Facebook first submitted back in 2016, shows a pop-up appearing when the user adds a URL to a caption, asking if the user wants to pay $2 to make the link live.
The patent application (titled “adding paid links to media captions in a social networking system”) describes how the system would work: “If the online system detects the text content of the caption includes a string of link text identifying an address, the online system prompts the posting user to pay a fee in exchange for generating a link.”
This, of course, has long been one of the biggest complaints about Instagram: that if you want to include a link to a story, product, or anything else in your post you can’t add URLs to captions of photos. Most people go the “link in bio” route, and verified Insta users can add links to Stories. The question here will be whether Instagram influencers, brands, and other users will be willing to pay a per-link fee. But it seems like a no-brainer to generate revenue for Instagram if this goes into effect.
However, as with any patent, it’s important to note that companies apply for patents all the time for products and services that never come to fruition, so there’s no telling if or when this feature might actually happen. Maybe don’t splurge on that new selfie stick just yet.