Instagram Tweaks Algorithm Again, But This Time Users Are Happy

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Instagram on Thursday announced fresh changes to its algorithm, showing its commitment to improve the platform based on user feedback. The new changes by the Facebook-owned company will display more posts, photos and videos in chronological order.

The algorithm change follows a plethora of complaints from the users seeing old posts in their feeds after a similar algorithm change in 2016. At the time, the company justified the changes, saying that users miss 70% of the content in their feeds. “We’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order,” it said then.

Now, announcing the change in a blog post, the photo-sharing platform said, “Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about.”

It must be noted that the platform is not fully returning to a chronological feed. Rather it is tweaking the algorithm to address some common complaints, like how some posts continue to appear on your feed for days, and how posts from the same friend dominate your feed.

“We did this via a number of changes, including an adjustment so that very old content does not get bumped up higher in feed,” said Instagram’s spokesman, Gabe Madway, according to The New York Times.

Further, the platform is also testing a “New Posts” button to allow users to refresh their feed themselves. Unlike the refresh happening automatically, a user would stay where they are until they are ready to see the latest posts. “Tap the button and you’ll be taken to new posts at the top of feed—don’t tap, and you’ll stay where you are,” the social networking platform said.

No further information was revealed as to when the feature will be made available. The app also assured that more changes to the feed will be rolled over in the next few months. A recent report from Pew Research Center, claimed that in terms of usage, Instagram is more popular than Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Only Facebook and YouTube are more popular than the Facebook-owned platform.

It is good to see that Instagram is constantly working to achieve a right balance between chronological content and the ones based on rankings, and the claims of the Pew Research Center underscores Instagram’s efforts. Facebook relies more on algorithms, i.e., popular content from friends get a place at the top. Twitter, on the other hand, is mostly chronological. Remember Vero, the social media app that went viral last month because it showed the newest content first? The platform is also ad-free.

“Instagram’s feed ranking is powered by machine learning, which is constantly adapting and improving based on new data,” Madway said. “But this is a nice change that people should notice.”

Separately, the platform earlier this week came up with a feature to add hashtag and profile links in user bios. After a company links a bio to their profile, they will get an alert along with an option to remove it. To add a hashtag or profile link, just select Edit Profile and head to bio section. A user will notice recommended hashtags and accounts after typing a # or @. After the hashtags and accounts are selected, they will automatically be linked to the bio.

Further, it also expanded its e-commerce efforts to eight more countries, including Canada, Brazil and the UK. After a user selects Shopping for Instagram post, a new window with prices and a link to a new page within the app will pop-up. The page will have more detailed information on the products along with a “Shop Now” button that will take a user to the brand’s own online store.

In the UK, users will see products from 20 retailers, including Kate Spade, Warby Parker, Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Heidi Klein, mahabis and J.Crew. The new feature would also benefit small businesses, which will get a chance to showcase their products to more users.

Also, TechCrunch recently reported that the platform could soon copy Snapchat’s QR code feature. The hint of the feature – dubbed as Nametag scan – was present in the Android app. The feature would allow users to open profiles of individuals or even businesses by simply scanning QR codes.

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