Social media network Instagram is finally ready to share some details on why you see certain posts and content, and the order you see them in, every time you open the Instagram app or refresh the feed. This comes at a time when there is a certain amount of ambiguity over how Instagram works, and allegations that certain content and posts are given more preference over others. And even though Instagram is now giving us a clearer look at how it works, the simple summary of all of this still seems to be that Instagram works in mysterious ways. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri says that it is important to clear the misconceptions of how algorithms work. This should help users better understand how Instagram decides content chronology on your app.
Instagram confirms that they use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, which each having its own purpose, which decide based on a number of factors. The Facebook owned social network says that a number of factors come into play which decide what you see, but one thing remains consistent all through, and that is these posts are recent posts shared by the people you follow. Mosseri says that some of the other factors that have a bearing on this include what time a post was shared, whether you are accessing Instagram on phone or the web and how often you like or interact with videos on the platform. These are what Instagram calls “signals”. Instagram further breaks this down into separate signals, such as information about the post, information about the person who made the post, your activity on Instagram and your history of interacting with someone.
“In Feed, the five interactions we look at most closely are how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment on it, like it, save it, and tap on the profile photo. 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. Instagram updates or removes these signals and predictors regularly, depending on changes in a user’s interaction with posts. Mosseri clarifies that Instagram does try to avoid showing too many posts from the same person in a row. “Another example is Stories that were “reshared” from Feed: until recently, we valued these Stories less, because we’ve heard consistently that people are more interested in seeing original Stories,” he says.
Mosseri also tackled the issue of accusations that Instagram is trying to silence certain users, or something often referred to as “shadow banning”. Instagram admits the communication around why a content is removed needs to improve and let people know what part of their post was against the Community Guidelines. “The truth is most of your followers won’t see what you share, because most look at less than half of their Feed. But we can be more transparent about why we take things down when we do, work to make fewer mistakes – and fix them quickly when we do – and better explain how our systems work,” says Mosseri. More details on this front, will be shared soon.