Instagram replaces chronological feed


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Kelly Langin

Don’t fix what ain’t broke, the saying goes. Social media saw an up-roar in the last two weeks when Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, announced it is changing the way users experience the app.

The issue is that Instagram is switching from a simple chronological feed to an algorithm. The posts that appear on each user’s feed will be specific to that user based on what Instagram’s data collects. The accounts whose posts you usually “like” most will appear at the top of your feed, will other posts following behind. The time of the post does not matter.

After six years of the chronological feed, what does this mean for Instagram’s users?

The result is a more personalized and less simplistic experience. But it may deter many who find Instagram’s original design to be user-friendly, and there is the fear that some posts will be less “visible” if they aren’t popular with some users.

The other side of the argument is that users will still get to see all the posts in their feed. It’s beneficial for those who don’t want to spend time scrolling through every photo and trust the algorithm will work to give them their friends’ or favorite businesses’ posts first – the posts they actually care about.

It’s not totally clear yet if Instagram will put “most-liked” posts at the top or posts they predict each user will like the most. Facebook, its parent company, currently uses a formula that grabs from both of those camps. Now even Twitter’s mobile app greets its users with what they believe are the most popular tweets for each user.

Many users have discovered a way to combat the possibility of losing visibility on the photo-sharing platform. Near the top-right of every post, users can click the ellipses and select “turn on post notifications.”

Encouraging followers to click “turn on post notifications” is a smart but incredibly narcissistic idea. This literally sends your friends a notification every time you post a new photo on the app.
I miss enough important posts from my messed-up Facebook algorithm that makes sure I only see posts from The Hard Times and my best friends’ ironic memes. It’s easy to just scroll through the chronological timeline until I hit a photo I recognize. I make sure I see everything, even if some posts are not necessary.

However, in the grand scheme of things, I’m talking about Instagram. It’s still there as a user-friendly photo-sharing app. I will still double-tap to “like” pictures of my friends’ vacation pictures and selfies with my cat will still be seen.

Instagram has not yet announced the date of the official algorithm switch, but they are currently testing it on a small set of selected users.