Instagram stopped showing posts in chronological order in 2016 and started allowing algorithms to choose what is important for each user. At the time, this displeased many people and, to this day, there are requests for the app to return to the old feed. However, as explained by Instagram, this will not happen, since the results are quite positive: users are seeing more posts and spending more time on the social network of photos and videos.
Last week, Instagram gathered the press in the United States to explain how the app selects what people see in the feed, that is, how Instagram works.
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Instagram uses algorithm to show what is relevant Photo: Carolina Oliveira / dnetc
Before switching from the chronological to the current feed, users were losing up to 70% of their friends' posts. That number changed after the algorithms started working. According to the social network, the content posted by about 800 million profiles is viewed 90% of the time.
This is only possible thanks to machine learning, when the algorithm is able to "learn" according to use. The idea is that, even if different users follow the same set of profiles, they have a personalized feed.
The algorithm takes into account three main factors:
- Interest: when the algorithm makes a real-time analysis of the posts and predicts what is most important based on the user's history.
- Novelty: Instagram gives priority to the most recent publications over the older ones.
- Relationship: consists of how close you are to the person who made the publication. This is measured with the amount of interactions that are made, such as likes and comments.
Instagram does not return to the chronological feed Photo: Carolina Ochsendorf / dnetc
The algorithm also includes a set of secondary information, such as the frequency at which the user opens the application, the number of profiles followed and the time spent on Instagram. For example, if you spend a lot of time with the app open and follow a lot of people, the algorithm will work so that you receive a greater variety of posts from different profiles. Now, if you open the app only for a short time a day, the tendency is to see only what the algorithm deems most important.
Other questions about the feed
The social network also clarified some doubts. Stories and live videos have no influence on the algorithm. Instagram does not hide any content, that is, even if the post does not have much interaction, you will see it at some point if you continue scrolling the feed. There is also no punishment or priority between photos and videos or posts with many hashtags.
With a colossal number of publications per day, the alternative found by social networks with many users is to try to find a way to make the feed more attractive, giving preference to what is most relevant. Instagram said it has no intention of returning to the chronological feed. Facebook also follows the same line.
This opens a gap for other social networks. Vero, for example, was born with the intention of not having any influence from algorithms in the organization of the feed.
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