Instagram Is About to Change in a Massive Way

2 minute read

Instagram won’t be so instant anymore. Like Facebook and Twitter before it, the photo-sharing app will soon be getting rid of its chronological feed.

The social network said March 15 that it will begin using algorithms to personalize users’ feeds based on their interests and relationships, rather than showing photos in chronological order.

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” reads an Instagram blog post. “As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

According to Instagram, the average user misses 70 percent of the photos that come into their feeds. Using an algorithm could help the company ensure that the few posts a user does actually see are of high interest. In turn, users may then spend more time on the app, viewing more ads and boosting Instagram’s business.

These Are the Interior Department's Most Popular Instagram Photos of 2014

Our public lands give some of the most spectacular views, like this one of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
Our public lands give some of the most spectacular views, like this one of Grand Teton National Park in WyomingChristina Adele Warburg—
America's first national monument, Devils Tower is a geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie in Wyoming. David Lane (@drlane56) captured this amazing 16-image panorama of the monument illuminated by the Milky Way and green airglow. Of visiting Devils Tower, David says: "From ancient stories of the Pleiades taking refuge at the top to the generations of Native Americas that held it sacred, it had a deep sense of age and a stoic nature that impressed me. It's so unexpected, so large in person, so steeped in traditions." Courtesy David Lane
This bear is in Lake Clark National Park, a land of stunning beauty where volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, craggy mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes, and local people and culture still depend on the land and water of their home. Solitude is found around every bend in the river and shoulder of a mountain. Venture into the park to become part of the wilderness.Kevin Dietrich——
A gorgeous photo of the changing fall colors in Zion National Park (Utah). Kevin Roland captured this shot at one of the park's most popular areas -- the Narrows, a gorge with wall a thousand feet tall.Kevin Roland——
On October 8, 1964, this Colorado River lake area on the border of Nevada and Arizona became the first national recreation area in the U.S. With its gorgeous contrasts of desert and water, mountains and canyons, Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers year-round recreational opportunities. Cheryl Hobbs——
Winter has arrived at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and it is gorgeous! Christina Adele Warburg@christinaadelephoto took this photo last weekend at Mormon Row. Photographers from around the world visit this area of the park to capture the iconic barn with the Teton Range in the background. Courtesy Christina Adele Warburg
An amazing sunrise at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. This photo was captured by Ryan Engstrom on the Mesa Arch Trail -- a popular place to capture the sunrise over the park’s countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Ryan Engstrom—
The morning commute is a little different at Yellowstone National Park. Cameron Patrick captured this photo on a cold morning -- just after the bison herd had waded through a river along the side the road. The bisons' body heat caused the water to turn to steam in the cold air, creating mist around the bison.Courtesy Cameron Patrick
"If it isn't God's backyard, then he certainly lives nearby." - Robin Williams on Glacier National Park. Kim Hang Dessoliers—
The Milky Way over Arches National Park in Utah.Jacob W. Frank

The turn to algorithms was likely inevitable given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the social network whose secretive News Feed algorithm is one of the keys to its success. Facebook uses thousands of factors to determine which posts to show to individual users. The algorithmic feed has helped Facebook grow to 1.5 billion users and demonstrably improved engagement metrics. But many users don’t even know it exists, and studies have shown they become shocked and angry when they discover Facebook is pulling the strings in their social interactions.

Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger believes Instagram will face less pushback because the network centers on photos rather than words.“Look at my feed now. I follow accounts from all over the world,” he told The New York Times. “It doesn’t really matter to me what time it is.”

Instagram will begin rolling out an algorithmically driven feed with a small set of test users, with plans for a broader rollout in the coming months.

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