As popular as Instagram is, users have been uniformly bothered by the platform’s decision in March 2016 to change from a real-time roll out of posts to a mystery algorithm that caused images to show up in feeds days after they occurred.
Instagram never said why it switched but it was no doubt an attempts to create a higher quality feed that would look good even with the addition of a lot more ads.
Bending to push back, the company announced in a press release yesterday (March 22, 2018) that it will go back to a mostly chronological feed. It’s also adding a “new posts” button so when you open your app, you can choose to linger on your screen rather than having your image automatically bumped up the feed whether you want it to or not.
Instagram wrote in the release: “Today we’re introducing changes to give you more control over your feed and ensure the posts you see are timely.
“We’ve heard it can feel unexpected when your feed refreshes and automatically bumps you to the top. So today we’re testing a “new posts” button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically. Tap the button and you’ll be taken to new posts at the top of feed, don’t tap, and you’ll stay where you are. We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable.
“Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about. So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.”
Given the amount of complaining about Instagram’s algorithm, switching back was probably being debated internally for months. The decision to switch back no doubt was helped along by the sliding status (both among users and stockholders) of Facebook, which has been under fire as of late for giving away users’ information to Cambridge Analytics, a firm involved in Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Keep in mind, your feed won’t be going back to a purely chronological feed, which the company’s vice president of product says isn’t ideal.
@iamthejer @9th @Atherworld totally chronological has its own weaknesses. My wife posts in the morning, but I check in the eve and I miss it. Or an account goes on a posting spree and takes over the feed. Finding the right balance is key and we’re trying to get better every day.
— Kevin Weil (@kevinweil) March 22, 2018