Instagram reveals more about how its algorithms determine what you see

295 27/06/2021

More than five years after Instagram changed from a strictly chronological feed to an algorithmic feed, you will still hear people longing for "good old days." Although the company does not seem to be interested in going back in the way of doing things, Instagram shared a new blog post trying to resolve some "misunderstandings" about how it presents content. The blog, written by Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, begins by stating that no algorithm can determine what you see in every aspect of the app. Instead, each part of the software has its own set of code to manage how it ranks content.

All of the algorithms broadly work in the same way, though they're "tailored to how people use it." For instance, when it comes to your Feed and Stories queue, Instagram says the goal is to put photos and videos in front of you that come from friends, family and those you're closest to.

Each post is ranked based on information the app extracts from them. According to Instagram, there are "thousands" of these "signals," but in the majority of cases, one of the more important ones is the popularity of a post. However, it will also take into act your recent activity and history of interacting with someone. Instagram will then use this information to predict how likely you're to spend "a few seconds" on a post to comment, like and save it. "The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you'll see the post," says Mosseri. In short, the company aims to maximize your engagement with a post.

While the focus shifts to discoverability with the Explore tab, here too, Instagram tries to gauge how likely you are to engage with a photo or video. Where things are slightly different is when it comes to Reels. Here, Instagram says the goal is surfacing clips it thinks you'll find funny or entertaining. To that end, Instagram says the most important prediction it tries to make when it comes to Reels is whether you'll watch one all the way through.

The blog post also touches on shadowbanning. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn't have a lot to say here other than the fact that it plans to be more transparent about things. It says it's developing "better" in-app notification that will inform people why the company took down one of their posts.

If you want more control over your Instagram experience, the company recommends several things. First, it says that you should choose your close friends for the story. This not only allows you to limit who can see your story, but it also prioritizes their photos and videos. If you don’t want to see their posts, you should also mute (or unfollow) an account. And make sure to click on the "not interested" option to shape what you see elsewhere.

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