Social media used to be simple. You’d have your feed, which would show you the stuff that people posted most recently, and then you’d scroll down forever – going through older posts in chronological order until you’d officially caught up to the point where you left off last time.
Simple. Elegant. A glorious time waster. And damn it, we liked it that way.
But then along came Facebook and 2009, when the be-all-end-all social media megalith started implementing an algorithm-based timeline for users, meaning that posts the maths deemed “more important” would wind up at the top of your timeline because Celia had a delicious raw vegan slice yesterday at 3:21pm and we noticed you didn’t click like so we assume that means you didn’t see it at all.
Recently, Twitter began following suit, shoving Tweets to the top of your timeline that you might have missed during long periods where you weren’t checking. You know, like when you’re sleeping.
But Instagram, through all of this, maintained the simple method of “new shit first, older stuff underneath that, in order.” It was a calming thought, that all your posts would neatly be in order.
Not any more.
The Facebook-owned selfies/nature/food image sharing service is in the early stages of experimenting with its own algorithm-based timeline, meaning you’re about to get posts from 16 hours ago shoved back up to the front of your feed. The company began testing the new system yesterday morning, with ‘Gram co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom explaining thusly:
“On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed. What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.”
Systrom was at pains to point out that the change in the way the app works is not going to be abrupt, and the company will make every effort to ensure it’s a gradual change, rather than make any sweeping shifts in users experiences.
“If it’s one thing we do really well as a company, it’s that we take big change slowly and deliberately and bring the community along with us. It’s not like people will wake up tomorrow and have a different Instagram.”
That said, if how changes to social media platforms have gone down in the past is any indication (spoiler alert: not fucking well), the ole’ Gram might need to apply a Nashville filter to the algorithm in order for people to find it appealing.
Source: NY Times.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty.