Instagram thinks it knows which pictures you want to see


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Instagram is getting even cozier with Twitter and Facebook.
Photo: LoboStudioHamburg/Pixabay. Licensed under CC0 1.0

The latest Internet outrage upon us: Instagram is killing chronological order.

The photo-sharing platform announced the change today in a blog post and says that the update will let you users “see the moments they care about first.” Reaction to the news is predictably negative, considering that time has served us well as a measurement of change so far, and users don’t see any compelling reason to change that now.

Instagram is just the latest social-media company to announce that showing things in the order in which they happened is just so 2006. Facebook started using algorithms to mess up its News Feed about 10 years ago, and Twitter’s “Show me the best Tweets first” feature does the same thing. These moves are all ostensibly in service of users, but it’s more likely that they provide a way for platforms to keep sponsored content prominent and get as many eyes on it as possible.

“You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds,” Instagram said today on its blog. “As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

“To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.”

Notice that Instagram is the one doing the ordering, and it will do so based on whatever its algorithms say you want to see. And how will that work?

“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,” the blog explains. “As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

We’re still not really sure how this will work. Is it grabbing and shuffling everything that people post since the last time you looked? Or is it establishing some arbitrary cut-off point if you’ve been away for a while? We assume Instagram hasn’t quite figured this out, itself, since it says it’s rolling out the re-ordering in “the coming months.”

But that doesn’t mean that just the announcement of such a feature isn’t already drawing some fire. The comments from people reblogging the reveal are already showing some hate.

“This is the number one reason I deleted my Facebook account,” user dreamedofglory says. “Please let it be opt-out!”

“How about giving us the ability to put accounts in lists or circles so we can decide who we want to see?” adds hpolleyphotography.

But we think that soupytwist has their finger on the pulse of the Internet with their reaction, which also requests the ability to opt out but prefaces it with a guttural, all-caps cry of anguish.


We expect to be hearing more of this as the feature becomes available.

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  • David Kaplan

    I hate this so much. Facebook does this and it bothers me beyond belief. I miss so many posts because I haven’t been the habit of liking or interacting with content. Now I comment on one post and that person’s posts show up in my feed for weeks…