Instagram Urges User Calm in Face of Algorithmic Timelines
Yes, Instagram has rolled out several changes recently, but a switch to algorithm-driven feeds isn't one of them -- yet. However, persistent user fears of a timeline Armageddon prompted the Facebook-owned company to tweet yesterday that "nothing is changing with your feed right now."
Earlier this month, Instagram noted in a blog post that it was working to improve its user experience by changing to a feed system that showed the most relevant, rather than the most recent, updates first. Since then, many of the site's users have been urging their followers to switch on post notifications to avoid missing future updates.
Instagram spokesperson Stephanie Noon told us today that any changes to how feeds are determined are still "weeks, or even months" away and the company will be conducting further testing in the meantime. She added that Instagram will "let the community know before any changes are made."
Working To Optimize Order of Posts
According to Instagram, the growing numbers of photos and videos being shared on the site means that users miss "an average 70 percent of their feeds." To ensure that users see the updates they're most likely to be interested in, the company said it would apply new rules to how updates are ordered.
Twitter and Facebook already use algorithms to determine the appearances of their feeds. Facebook orders its News Feed based on factors ranging from daily user ratings and survey responses to likes, clicks and shares, while Twitter last month began offering relevance-based feeds as an alternative to its standard reverse chronological ordering system.
Instagram plans to begin ordering feeds according to factors that are similar to Facebook's, but will decide on the specifics based on the results of its tests with groups of community users, Noon told us. The company is currently working to find the best way to optimize the order of posts, she said.
New Support for Minute-Long Videos
Other changes are also underway at Instagram, which is also beginning to roll out support for longer video posts, according to a blog post. Over the coming months, users will be able to create and watch videos that are up to 60 seconds longs.
The support for longer videos, which is available to some users starting today, is "one step of many you'll see this year," the company said. Instagram is also once again enabling iOS users (versions 7.19 and up) to make videos out of multiple clips from their camera rolls.
While Instagram's update for longer videos was welcomed with nearly 200 likes on its blog, the shift toward an algorithm-driven feed has received a far more critical response. A Change.org petition to "Keep Instagram Chronological," for example, has to date received more than 327,000 signatures from supporters.
"We believe an algorithm-based feed will be detrimental to small business owners and artists who use this platform to communicate their products and services," according to the petition created by user Sarah Heard. "Please listen to our feedback as users of your platform and at least give us the ability to choose how we see our feed."
The company has also recently introduced a new feature on Facebook -- Instagram for Business -- as "a new resource for turning customers into community."
Image Credit: Screenshots via Google Play, Instagram.