Instagram set to bring back the chronological feed

Over the past few years, Instagram has been making changes, some baffling, in a quest to improve its profit margins while in the process alienating part of their core users who feel their experience in the social media app has been made worse. One of these unpopular decisions was the removal of the chronological feed in favour of their algorithms choosing what one gets to see on their home feed, based on a number of factors including their likes, the accounts they follow, among other hidden metrics.

However, a recent announcement by Instagram head Adam Mosseri says that they have started testing two new feed settings, including the much-requested chronological option.

The switch to the algorithm based formula was made in 2016 and was aimed at increasing the amount of time a user spent on the app, by having the algorithm figure out the content that the user might find interesting, and pushing it to his/her feed.

As already mentioned, the algorithm looks at a wide variety of metrics when deciding which content to push to a certain user.  After analysing this information, the algorithm will then try to find other accounts that share similar content and push them to the user’s feed. Ideally, a user will appreciate the new content. However, other people find it to be obtrusive since they are being presented with content that they have not subscribed to for one reason or another.

Mosseri says that, moving forward, a new menu with three options will be available for users to choose how Instagram’s feed will display posts. These are:

  1. The “Home” Setting – The current version, which most people are familiar with. The algorithm decides what it thinks you might find appealing based on your browsing patterns.
  2. The “Favourites Feed” – This option gives you the ability to view content from a small group of accounts you select. For instance, you can select accounts belonging to your close friends, family and certain creators while leaving other accounts that you follow out in the cold.
  3. The “Following Feed” – The old school method where users see a stream of posts from all the accounts that they follow in a chronological pattern.
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The main criticism of the algorithmically-sorted feed was that users could go for long stretches of time without seeing posts from accounts they follow, while, at the same time, having old posts at the top of their feeds just because Instagram thinks they might be interesting to the user.

This, for the longest time, had creators speculating how the algorithm decided which content to push, and which to ignore. Furthermore, we can not fail to highlight that an algorithmically sorted feed opens up the possibility of Instagram pushing content that they are in favour of, while at the same time burying content that pushes ideas which they do not agree on.

The three feed option is currently available for a small section of users as Instagram continues to monitor the usage differences that they might bring. Mosseri has not given a concrete date as to when the options will be available to all users.

Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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