With the help of algorithms
Your Instagram feed is about to get out of chronological order, and there’s nothing you can do about it—it’s the way of social media.
Last week, the Facebook-owned FB photo-sharing service confirmed rumors that it plans to eventually filter users’ feeds with algorithms to, presumably, show them a tailored selection of photos based on their behavior and interests. Similarly to what happened when Twitter announced a similar switch several weeks ago, some users are not happy about the upcoming change. Model and Kardashian family member Kendall Jenner, for example, tweeted about her displeasure with Instagram’s attempt to “fix something that isn’t broken,” echoing many other users’ sentiments.
Earlier in the day, some users began to promote that #turnmeon hashtag on social media as a workaround for the imminent feed change, suggesting that users can make sure to always see posts from a particular account by turning on push notifications for it. Instagram later tweeted that its planned filtering won’t be happening immediately and that it will clearly notify users when it implements the change. Presumably, it’ll also let them opt out or calibrate how they want it, but no word on that yet.
But despite anyone’s complaints, algorithmic filtering is inevitable.
Facebook has been filtering content for almost as long as it’s had its News Feed, and now one by one, everyone else is following. Even Twitter, which just recently expanded its “While you were away” feature, has been talking internally about filtering feeds for several years, according to a source. Despite some users’ argument that algorithms can’t perfectly pick out the content they want to see, which these companies have admitted is a work in progress, they nevertheless believe it leads to a better experience (as a journalist who uses Twitter as a news reader to do my job, I disagree, but I’m likely the exception, not the rule).
Instagram has said that users miss 70% of the content in their feeds, and that affects their interaction with the app. A study by an analytics firm recently found that Instagram engagement has dropped by 40% in 2015.
And in the end, it’s all about ads, of course. As Fortune previously pointed out, Instagram has been turning the dial on its money-making feature (which angered users as well), and this algorithmic-filtering is part of its master plan to show us more ads.