Welp, we knew this was coming: reports are abound this Friday that the Facebook Timeline-style Instagram algorithm is slowly being pushed out for all users just as another busy Summer weekend is jumping off.
Though Instagram’s timeline has always been in reverse-chronological order (similar to Twitter’s—before that network started tinkering, too), the company officially announced back in March that they would introduce an algorithmic approach to showing users photos & videos, in part, because the average person misses “about 70% of the content on their feed”.
Personally, that number seems suspect—especially given how I see friends and family interacting with the app on a regular basis. It’s more likely that “power users” (i.e. those with several thousand connections) are heavily skewing that data; making this less a profile of the “average” user than a mathematical mean.
The real benefit of the Instagram algorithm for the company, however, is more likely in the form of better data for advertisers. To date, Instagram relies heavily on Facebook data for ad targeting—which is great for those with shared Facebook/Instagram profiles. However, for users without the two connected, this reliance on Facebook’s data leaves a hole for Instagram to fill; one that an algorithmic feed (and the data collected from engagements as a result) could help to build.
Regardless of the real reason, the Instagram algorithm is moving forward—and, unlike in the case of Twitter, there doesn’t appear to be an “opt-out” mechanism in place as of yet.