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.
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.