Instagram brings back the chronological feed - but when will it arrive?

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(Image credit: Instagram)

Instagram appears to have taken its own social behavior prediction report seriously. Not only did the Meta-owned platform begin tweaking the way its users interacted with the content, it actually took the feedback seriously and appears to be bringing back some features that had gone out of favor. 

Just a month ago, Instagram had announced that a version of its chronological feed would be rolled out. Now reports on XDA Developers indicate that the image-sharing platform was doing so and had actually started testing the new implementation with some of its users. 

In another recent update, the company had allowed users to upload videos of up to 60 seconds on their Stories, up from the 15 seconds that it had permitted earlier. All videos going beyond 15 seconds split into more than one post or gave users the option of uploading them on to Reels and showcasing it on Stories from there.

Instagram has confirmed that it will be rolling out three new options to organize feeds. This means that it gives users the freedom to customize their curated content in descending order as you scroll down from the top of the app. There will be two chronological options and a third that allows users to hide posts from accounts that aren't part of users that have been highlighted as favorites. 

According to a tweet from Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, the three options for sorting out one's feed include Home, Favorites, and Following. The first of these is how users currently organize their feed whereby an AI-based algorithm decides the post that may likely attract them. Going forward, this option would allow users to see more posts from folks they do not follow, enabling better content discovery. 

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What do the feed updates involve?

Under the Favorites setting, users get to see posts from accounts that the user has marked with a star. This way one gets to limit the number of posts to a personalised feed and possibly limit it to what a usr likes to see the most. In other words, one can set up filters around the topics that one wants to see within the network. 

Coming to the third feed type, users can use Following option to display posts from those that one follows in a chronological order. Also, this option does not feature posts from those one doesn't follow, which means that Instagram allows users the freedom to choose if they want a broader network or not. 

Mosseri also adds that the new feed options are currently in test phase and would be rolled out to select users soon. The global rollout would, however, happen only in a couple of months and be completed within the first half of 2022. 

Instagram had changed the way it organized from the chronological option in 2016 to an AI-powered predictive option whereby users were likely to see stuff based on their previous interactions with the app. In other words, Instgram was deciding what you should see based on how you made your choices earlier.

Mosseri claimed that the reason for reverting back to the old way came about as the company recognized that not many people went through their feeds too regularly, which meant that the AI was getting it wrong. The upcoming feed options would allow users to customize the app to their choice and encourage better engagement.  

Instagram had recently introduced new features such as PlayBack, Reel Visual Replies and Profile Embed. While the first gave a hint of nostalgia by allowing users to summarize the past over Stories, the second was targeted at content creators to get feedback from their audience. 

Analysis: This shouldn't have occured in the first place

It's been six years since an update was brought out to rely on an algorithm to show you the images from people and brands you follow, in an order that it thought would suit you best.

However, many just want simplicity - to get to the point. To quickly check the most recent posts and then go back to their errands for the day.

It's a feature that users on Instagram have been wanting for as long as it's been absent, so it's a relief to many that it's finally happening.

But it's a feature that shouldn't have gone in the first place. Instagram is a place for discovering what you like, while also giving you an idea of where or what you'd like to do for the coming year. Relying on an algorithm for that in your main feed was misplaced, but hopefully, it arrives sooner than later for users.

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Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.