Instagram Switches to Algorithms to Personalize Feeds for Users



Instagram has started using algorithms to display photos and videos it believes users care about the most rather than the current reverse chronological order. The photo-sharing service reports that users are missing 70 percent of the content in their feeds.

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” Instagram said in a blog post. “We’re focusing on optimizing the order—all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

The New York Times reports that the changes will be gradually rolled out, starting with a small set of tests that affect a “single-digit percentage of users.”

The die was cast when Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, as the social giant engineered personalized content delivery and an algorithm-based feed. Twitter also recently changed its timeline algorithm to prioritize tweets it believes will be most interesting and relevant.

Reactions have been varied. “Honestly, I think they already had it right,” notes Fstoppers. “Having no ordering of posts beyond chronological sorting means I’m free to explore and discover on my own terms instead of being served content that was chosen for me. If I want to get specific, I use hashtags. If I want to see a friend, I search their name. That’s part of the fun of Instagram.”

Teen Vogue, on the other hand is a fan. “Over the weekend we noticed Instagram posts and videos displaying the full month, date and year—taking the guesswork out of one of our favorite pastimes,” wrote the pub. “The timestamp is also listed on the bottom left corner now, as opposed to top right, so when you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, the time of post is no longer the first thing you see.”

On the Instagram advertising front, Lord & Taylor has come under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission after it paid for an article for Nylon Magazine, then paid for the dress to appear in Nylon’s Instagram feed—but did not identify either as advertising.

“Lord & Taylor needs to be straight with consumers in its online marketing campaigns,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers have the right to know when they’re looking at paid advertising.”

The retailer also gave the dress to “50 select fashion influencers” and paid them $1,000 to $4,000 to post an Instagram selfie wearing the dress—but did not disclose the payment.

Full disclosure on Instagram will, however, be coming from the Vatican as Italian newswire service ANSA reports Pope Francis will join Saturday, March 19, under the handle @Franciscus.


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