Doing Business | IT & Technologies

June 07, 2016

New Algorithm-Driven Instagram Feed Rolled Out to the Dismay of Users

Say farewell to chronological ordering of posts – users are now seeing their feed as organised by Instagram’s own formula, and they’re not happy

Is your Instagram feed still ordered oldest-to-newest? Then treasure your straightforward user experience because it is not going to last.

Controversial changes to the photo-sharing platform that were met with widespread outcry when they were first flagged in March are taking effect, with users around the world reporting a new algorithm-driven feed.

What this means is posts appear not in the sequence they were posted by people you follow from oldest to newest, but in one of Instagram’s own devising. And Instagram – owned by Facebook – works in mysterious ways.

Instagram first announced the impending change in mid-March, saying that the average Instagram user (“you may be surprised to learn”) missed 70% of their feed.

An algorithm-driven feed, “ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most”, would be introduced “in the coming months” to rectify this.

In the overly-familiar tone beloved by Silicon Valley, Instagram vowed that the change would ensure the best, most meaningful content would “be waiting for you when you wake up”.

Despite the platform’s best intentions, the announcement sparked considerable – if slightly delayed – panic on two weeks later when tens of thousands of users, concerned that their content might not be that which their followers would “care about the most”, urged them to “turn on notifications”.

Some, such as the British singer Ellie Goulding, had considerable influence on the platform, forcing commentators to point out that turning on push notifications for individual Instagram users was a terrible idea and to call for everyone to please just calm down.

The furore over the #InstagramChanges passed as the platform went days, then weeks, then months without making a change to the time-honoured – literally – chronological format – though its new logo and in-app look suggested nothing good (or at least functional) could stay.

But users are now starting to report that they are seeing the new feed and, as tends to be the case with technological change, many don’t like it.

“Fuckin’ all over the place,” grumbled one Twitter user.

“I noticed because NOBODY likes my stuff any more,” said another. “I’m sure it’s not just me.”

The new experience prioritises posts by users you’ve previously interacted with, and appears to both deliver noticeably more advertisements and give them greater prominence.

As Instagram promised in March: “if your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in.”

“How do I filter out all the 21 pilots concert photos on my Instagram feed?!” tweeted a user in June.

Those who have the most to lose are the perfectionists who, thus far, have aimed to “catch up” with their feed, scrolling back to the post they last remembered each time they open the app. Now, the disordered feed has no logical endpoint, enabling quite possibly endless scrolling – which, of course, suits Instagram just fine.

There seems to be no logic as to which users have the new feed, or where, with one woman reporting that it had been rolled out to only three of the four accounts she operates. “I noticed immediately and hated it though.”

A spokesman for Instagram was unable to give detail as to which users, or how many were experiencing the new feed. But he did say it was being rolled out “broadly and globally over the coming weeks”.

“You’ll see this new experience soon if you haven’t already. ... If posts in your feed are not arranged chronologically, then you have the new feed experience.”

Text by Guardian
 

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