Instagram makes changes to its timeline algorithm after user feedback

23 Mar 2018

Instagram feed on iPad. Image: Alex_Ugalek/Shutterstock

Instagram’s new algorithm tweak is sure to please regular users of the platform.

Instagram is making an alteration to its feed that it hopes will quell user criticism of the previous iteration.

The Facebook-owned platform, which boasts around 800m active users per month, changed from a chronological feed to a relevancy-sorted model in March 2016.

Future Human

This led to a barrage of user complaints, with many people expressing annoyance at seeing posts from previous days, saying the user experience felt stale.

People were also not keen on the sudden bumps pulling users to the top of the feed while scrolling, and professional marketers and content specialists noted negative business repercussions due to the changes.

New changes to please users

Users will now be more likely to see newer posts higher up in their feed, with Instagram saying the app will “feel more fresh” due to the changes.

A direct response to user feedback, the changes address common problems such as posts appearing on your feed for days on end or seeing posts from the same accounts on a more regular basis than others.

The app is not returning to a chronological feed per se, but the change is a slight improvement for the many people who voiced their annoyance at the previous user experience. Instagram, like many other social media platforms, is trying to balance the user desire for a chronological timeline with machine-learning features.

It 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.”

Vice-president of product at Instagram, Kevin Weil, tweeted:

Instagram also detailed plans for a new button providing more choice for users: “We’ve heard it can feel unexpected when your feed refreshes and automatically bumps you to the top. So today, we’re testing a ‘New Posts’ button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically.

“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. We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable.”

Instagram taking feedback into account

More changes are in the works for the photo-sharing platform, but marketers and those who rely on Instagram for their business will at least be happy with these initial tweaks to the timeline.

Unlike Snapchat’s much-maligned redesign, the changes to Instagram seem to be in direct response to feedback from existing users as opposed to an effort to attract a new demographic to the service.

Instagram feed on iPad. Image: Alex_Ugalek/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects