As you snap pics of the giant wall of cupcakes at your local bakery this this weekend with the full intention of posting them on Instagram Stories and letting all your friends marinate in their FOMO, you may notice that the feature looks a wee bit different. If you're wondering what the green rings on Instagram Stories mean, you're not alone — they're the result of a newly-launched feature on Instagram called "Close Friends," which allows you to keep your Stories private.
Using the "Close Friends" feature is basically like having a Finsta, but in your Instagram Stories. You can select a group of people that you want to have access to your Story, and from then on, they'll be the only ones who see it — meaning you can finally stop soft-blocking that one friend who thinks you share updates about the hot duck in Manhattan too often and start sharing pictures of waterfowl with people who actually care.
To use the new feature, first make sure your app is fully updated; then, you should be able to navigate to the side menu on your profile, where you can tap "Close Friends". From there you'll be able to search through your list of followers to select who will be able to see Stories that are only shared to "Close Friends". Once you start posting a Story, it will give you the option to share it the way you usually do, or opt to just share it with the select group on your Close Friends list.
Yes, this does add yet another ripple in the complicated order of social media, but at least this is a quiet one — nobody will be able to see who is and who isn't on your list, and they also won't be notified if the list is edited in any way.
But what exactly do the green rings and the little badge mean when they pop up, and you haven't done anything to initiate them? Instagram shows you green rings around someone else's Story to indicate that you're part of their Close Friends list — helpful to know not just for the sake of the warm and fuzzies, but so you know that whatever content their Story is about to show you is maybe something you shouldn't broadcast publicly, since they decided to keep it private. That in turn might prompt you to add them to your own Close Friends list, but again, it's totally up to you — Instagram won't tattle on ya if you don't.
The feature should be rolling out globally as of Friday, Nov. 30, when Instagram first announced the new feature in a blog post; likely you've already seen a little Story from Instagram pop up in your queue to explain it as well. Godspeed with all of your new Finstagram Stories — if anyone needs me, I'm off to go spam a bunch of people with pictures of that hot duck until they beg to get taken off my Close Friends list as quack as they can.