For a closed system, those kinds of open connections are deeply dangerous. If anyone on Instagram can just link to any old store on the web, how can Instagram -- meaning Facebook, Instagram's increasingly-overbearing owner -- tightly control commerce on its platform? If Instagram users could post links willy-nilly, they might even be able to connect directly to their users, getting their email addresses or finding other ways to communicate with them. Links represent a threat to closed systems. [...]
But killing off links is a strategy. It may be presented as a cost-saving measure, or as a way of reducing the sharing of untrusted links. But it is a strategy, designed to keep people from the open web, the place where they can control how, and whether, someone makes money off of an audience. The web is where we can make sites that don't abuse data in the ways that Facebook properties do.
Links take us to places where we can make choices that Instagram never would.
Its presence is so subtle, and so pervasive, that we barely even noticed it was an attempt to kill the web.