Instagram Users Now Have Access To Algorithm-Free Feed Sorting Options
Instagram has now made its algorithm-free, chronological feed option available to all users, after introducing it in December as part of Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri's testimony before the US Senate amid concerns about how Instagram is damaging to children.
As you can see, you now have two more Instagram feed display options to select from when it comes to controlling the appearance of your primary content:
Favorites — This section shows the most recent postings from the accounts you've added to your 'Favorites' list. You can add up to 50 accounts to your Favorites list, which will help you prioritize updates from these people.
Following — Similar to the conventional Instagram feed, this shows posts from all the accounts you follow in the app.
However, both the new 'Favorites' and 'Following' feeds will display your posts in chronological order as they are published. There's no more algorithm tampering – it's the Instagram you used to know and love, with everything in its proper position.
The issue with Instagram's reverse-chronological feed options, as we noted at the time of the initial announcement, is that you can't set either as a default — you'll have to manually select the feed display you prefer every time you log in to the app.
Realistically, not many people will do, whereas Instagram, which has been able to increase user engagement through its algorithm-defined feed, will also be hoping that people realize that the algorithm feed is better and that by trusting the system, they will see more of the content they care about.
Instagram has the facts to back this up - in a post explaining how its algorithm works last year, Instagram stated:
“When we first launched in 2010, Instagram was a single stream of photos in chronological order. But as more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about. By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.”
As a result, not only does Instagram profit from having an algorithm in place but so do users, based on this data. That's at least partly why Instagram doesn't let users set a permanent preference for a different feed layout because it's preferable to go with the algorithm, which increases time spent in the app and user pleasure. Even if you aren't aware of it.
On Facebook, Meta did the same thing, offering the ability to switch to a 'Recent' feed both in settings and in-stream. Users will feel more in control, as they will have the choice to switch to an algorithm-free feed if they so desire — allowing them to stop worrying about the algorithm ruining their social media lives. But the majority of individuals do not use it. Who wants to bother flipping the switch every time they log in, especially when, as Instagram points out, they'll eventually miss updates since the algorithm no longer highlights the most relevant posts in their feed?
However, you now have the choice, which will be welcome news to the many Instagram users who have been seeking it for years in the comments section of Mosseri's postings.
In many ways, the main feed is no longer the primary engagement surface, with Reels and Stories taking over and seeing increased usage daily.
That should alleviate Instagram's internal concerns about lower engagement as a result of people turning off the algorithmic feed - but, as previously said, few users will do so every time they check-in anyway.