Instagram may soon let you add clickable links to your image captions, but with a fee. A patent application submitted by Instagram's parent company Facebook shows a pop-up appearing when a user adds a link to a caption, asking if they wants to make the URL clickable by paying $2 (roughly Rs. 147). Right now, users can not add links to captions, and this has been a limitation of Instagram that has received a fair amount of criticism.
The patent application by Facebook, dated September 8 2020 and filed on January 26 2016, was discovered by Protocol. Describing how the new system would work, the patent says, “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.”
According to the patent, the fee for generating a link on Instagram may be a flat fee, or could vary based on a number of other users connected to the posting user, via the online system. The fee could also alternatively be based partially on the profile of the user, the patent explains. It may charge a business to pay a fee in order to generate a link, but may not charge an individual non-business account a fee for the same.
Currently, Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers or verified handles can add clickable links to their stories but for everyone else, this isn't an option. Regular users usually add the URL to their Instagram bio, and write “Link in bio” to their stories or captions to push users to check the link.
The patent says that the fee would prevent a user from posting content with links in the caption as an alternative advertisement method without cost to the advertiser, and prevent excessive links. It also notes that the link will be disabled if the user does not pay the fee.
Instagram has so far not hinted at including this system in the near future and while it is a possibility, companies often don't end up using the patents they apply for.