Social Media

Instagram Brings Back Chronological Feeds

Instagram head Adam Mosseri has the company has started testing two new feed settings, including the much-requested chronological option. In a video shared today, Mosseri demonstrated a new menu with three options for how Instagram’s feed will display posts. The “Home” setting is what users are familiar with, a feed Instagram creates based on what it thinks will interest each user, ranked using an algorithm.

promised the chronological feed would make a comeback during a Senate subcommittee hearing in December. During a Q&A last month, he also said Instagram was “already testing the favorites idea.” Instagram’s algorithmically sorted feed has been criticized by users since it was first introduced in 2016.

Users have complained about going long periods of time without seeing posts from accounts they follow or having older posts at the top of their feeds. Creators have speculated about how algorithms decide which content to push to the top, and Mosseri has written blogs explaining some of the methods used.

A new “Favorites” feed will be populated with content from a subset of accounts a user chooses (Mosseri says he uses it for siblings, certain creators, and friends). And finally, a “Following” feed will return what many users have been asking for: a chronological stream of posts from accounts you follow. Some users have already noticed the new options in the Instagram app.

Mosseri says that the non-chronological home feed will feature “more and more recommendations over time,” functioning more as a discovery hub than a way to keep up on content from people you already follow. Favorites will finally let anyone who uses the app easily keep up to date on all updates from a small cluster of friends and family, though users can still find posts from everyone else they follow in the Following view.

The changes are “already out or going out over the next few weeks” according to Mosseri, and the company plans to roll out a finalized version of the chronological feed options in the first half of 2022. Unlike many limited tests that Facebook and Instagram experiment with regularly, expect to see these changes broadly implemented into the app’s experience.

The company isn’t re-introducing chronological feeds just to keep its users happy. Instagram’s decision to bring back chronological feeds is a win for anyone who uses the app, but it’s also another example of how Meta generally only implements common sense changes to make its apps safer or better for users only when under duress, whether from bad press or looming regulation.

Lawmakers in the U.S. are focusing on the dangers of social media algorithms and some proposed legislation would force platforms to give users more choice or provide deeper transparency into how those algorithms rank content.

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