Instagram is overhauling its feed with a new personalized algorithm that means, in theory, that users will be subjected to fewer boring sunsets from random acquaintances, and more critical updates from celebrities (and close friends and family.)
The move announced on Tuesday follows in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter and moves away from the traditional organization of posts in chronological order. Instead of having the most recent photos appear at the top of a feed, the app will prioritize photos based on a user’s interests, friends and other data.
“To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most,” the company said in a blogpost unveiling the new system, which marks a significant change in how the site tracks user trends. “As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order.”
The site explained: “If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.”
The shift comes a month after Twitter sparked a major backlash – organized under the hashtag #RIPTwitter – when it announced that the site would be changing its timeline so that users see the “best” tweets first, not the newest ones.
The announcement has not yet inspired the kind of intense criticism that Twitter saw this year, though some loyal Instagram fans said – on Twitter – that they were not looking forward to seeing the photo site become more like Facebook.
Facebook has also repeatedly adjusted its algorithm, moving away from the reverse-chronological model and focusing on showing posts and stories with a formula meant to maximize engagement and interest.
On average, Instagram users miss 70% of their feeds, and as the site has grown, it has become more difficult to keep up with photos and videos, according to the site’s announcement. “This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.”
Instagram has more users than Twitter, last year surpassing more than 400 million. If the shift to an Insta-algorithm is successful, it could help boost business, since the more time people spend on the site, the better it can serve advertisers.
This article was written by Sam Levin in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 16th March 2016 02.37 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010