Instagram's Upcoming Chronological Feed Might Not Work as Expected
The significant Instagram news from today's Senate appearance by platform chief Adam Mosseri, which was mainly concentrated on how the company is working to enhance young user's safety and wellness, is that Instagram is planning to introduce a chronological feed option to the app early next year, which is one of the most requested features.
As Mosseri put it:
"We're working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year."
It's worth noting that the term 'version' is used here.
Mosseri went on to say that the company has been developing the option for months and that the prototype is well advanced. This has a lot of users excited, and a lot of analysts pondering what it means.
But the thing is, Instagram's upcoming chronological feed feature will most likely work in the same way that Facebook's feed sorting feature does now, in that you can select to view posts from Pages and people you follow in chronological order, but you won't be able to set it as your default and have the app open to that reverse chrono feed each time you return.
The new option will most likely appear like this toggle, which app researcher Alessando Paluzzi discovered while testing:
In addition to the standard, algorithm-defined 'Home' feed, this new toggle would allow you to arrange your main feed by 'Favorites,' which are profiles you add to your top list, and 'Following,' as shown here. Paluzzi believes the 'Following' feed will be shown in reverse chronological order, as Instagram seems to imply in its affirmation of Mosseri's statement.
That means you'll be able to read your feed in chronological order, but it won't be a default setting like you can do right now on Facebook with your News Feed display options.
The advantage for Instagram is that it puts the responsibility back on the users. If users are concerned about algorithmic bias, 'shadow bans,' and other issues, they can re-sort their feed however they choose, without the involvement of an algorithm. Simultaneously, Instagram understands that many people wouldn't bother to do it every time they use the app, allowing it to essentially maintain the engagement perks of the algorithmic feed approach (Instagram has repeatedly stated that both engagement and user experience measures have improved greatly since utilizing its feed algorithm in 2016), while also reducing some backlash about the chronological feed's removal.
In many ways, it's a win-win situation, but it's important to keep in mind that it's doubtful that Instagram would bring back the ability to select a reverse chronological feed display as your default, implying that it's not truly returning to the way things were.
But it's possible. I mean, Mosseri, like Instagram in its confirmation, was very careful with his words. If it were truly bringing the option back, it'd be more open – but perhaps this is merely interpretation, mixed with cynicism engendered by previous statements.
We'll know soon enough, as Instagram plans to deploy the feature early next year.