“How does Instagram decide what shows up for me first?”, “Why do some of my posts get more views than others?”; “How does Instagram decide what to show me in Explore?” — if you have ever wondered about these questions as a user or a creator on Instagram, don’t worry. The photo-sharing platform has now been effectively demystified, thanks to Instagram head Adam Mosseri. In an incredibly detailed blog, Mosseri has answered everyone’s questions about the Instagram algorithm that decides not only the reach of your posts but also the kind of posts that you come across on your feed.
One of the most crucial points he addressed was how we, as Instagram users, can influence what we see on our feed. Often, we see our feed being biased towards certain accounts that we might not be that interested in while missing out on updates from those we truly care about. How can we as users fix this fundamental problem?
Mosseri breaks it down in the blog. The three main ways we can help Instagram curate our feed more accurately are by adding people we care about to our “close friends,” muting accounts whose posts we do not wish to see, and marking recommended posts either on our feed or Explore page as “not interested.”
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He also got some basics out of the way, such as what “the algorithm” is, for instance. Mosseri says, there never was any one “algorithm” that dictated what people saw. Instead, what Instagram does is, with the help of a range of “algorithms, classifiers, and processes,” they design a feed that ranks the posts based on what the user cares about the most.
The blog post also explained how the feed and Instagram Stories would be ranked, that according to Mosseri would depend on four main factors — the information in the post, the information about the person who made the post, your activity with respect to what kind of posts you have “liked” on the platform, and your history of interacting with the other user, like whether you have left comments under each other’s posts in the past.
Mosseri also mentioned that for feeds or on explore pages, Instagram prefers “avoiding potentially upsetting or sensitive posts”. For Reels as well, they avoid showing content that is low-resolution, water-marked, or “reels that focus on political issues or that are made by political figures, parties, or government officials – or on their behalf.”
He also addressed the topic of “shadowbanning” that many users held Instagram accountable for, saying they are “developing better in-app notifications so people know at the moment why, for instance, their post was taken down, and exploring ways to let people know when what they post goes against our recommendations guidelines.”