Most social media platforms hide the idea of the “algorithm” in mystery. Instagram seems to be breaking this mold as it publishes a detailed blog that explains what its algorithm is and how it ranks feeds, stories, research and reels.
Adam Moseri, head of Instagram, started the long blog by saying that he and the network want to do a better job by explaining how Instagram works in order to provide this information so that users can better understand if the platform is worthy of their trust. This is a bold goal, but Moseri says he wants to dispel misconceptions about the platform and answer a few questions like “How does Instagram decide what comes first for me?”; “Why do some of my posts get more impressions than others?”; and “How does Instagram decide what to show me in Explore?
Today we released more information about how our systems rank content on Instagram and why people see what they see. Https://t.co/fEgprSilBi
– Adam Mosseri @ (@mosseri) June 8, 2021
“One of the main misconceptions we want to clarify is the existence of the Algorithm,” Moseri said. “Instagram doesn’t have an algorithm to control what people do and don’t see in the app.”
Moseri says Instagram does not have a comprehensive, mysterious algorithm, but rather a variety of them. Although interesting, this disclosure is not particularly useful in itself: one or many algorithms do not really matter in the grand scheme of the user experience.
But Mosseri doesn’t stop there, explaining that the idea behind these different algorithms, classifiers and processes is to make it possible to actually experience the vast amount of content on Instagram better.
So how the hell are Instagram posts arranged and organized? You asked and we answered. Call convenient, it’s a bit long, so we’ll share some things in this thread tthttps: //t.co/6RgbkFsEv5
– Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) June 8, 2021
This is a fairly common topic, which is why any platform has moved away from a “feed” system. Its benefits are still debatable, but this is the public reason why very few social networks benefit from a simple time-based feed.
“We want to make the most of your time and we believe that using technology to personalize your experience is the best way to do that,” Moseri said. “Each part of the application – Feed, Explore, Reels – uses its own algorithm, consistent with the way people use it. People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to find something completely new in Explore. We classify things differently in different parts of the application, depending on how people use them. “
In its blog, which you can read here, Instagram goes on in detail how it ranks Feed and Story Content, Explore and Reels. Mosseri also explains the concept of “shadow ban” and how it is a term used to describe a number of platform experiences, and hopes the company can do a better job by explaining what each of these experiences really is and what they mean to you.
Finally, Moseri describes how the user can have a direct influence on what he sees while on Instagram, which gives them some control over the “algorithm” and what Instagram chooses to show.
The blog is the first in a series that will aim to demystify the platform in a way that is in stark contrast to other popular services such as YouTube, and hopefully it will be just the first of many social media explanations in the near future.
Image credits: Title photo licensed through Depositphotos.