Instagram’s algorithm is going to get you


InstagramWhen Facebook threw bags of crisp dollar bills at Instagram in exchange for its users (and soul) we knew things were eventually going to change. At first it seemed like a perfect match, a Britney and Justin dressed head to toe in denim, if you will. We got new apps like Hyperlapse, Layout and Boomerang. We got new filters. We even, eventually, got support for multiple accounts. Life was good. But then came the ads. And now, well now Facebook’s hand has closed around Instagram’s stubble-covered, peace-sign-on-a-string-of-leather clad neck good and proper.

See, most Instagram users have to close the service from time to time to feed and clean themselves, interact with other humans face to face and generate income to cover their living expenses. Which means they miss a whole whack of content (and ads) on their Instagram feeds. Sure, a lot of that content might be rubbish — lunches, pictures of hotdog
sausages on beaches, airplanes people are about to board — but what about the good stuff? What about the quality fare that Instagram can emulate with its ads in an effort to trick you into thinking they’re legitimate Instagrams with genuine artistic merit?

Never fear, Instagram’s algorithm is near. Facebook’s doing it. Twitter’s doing it. Instagram was bound to do it, too. What is “it”? “It” is knowing better than father time. Instead of showing you the images posted to Instagram by those people or accounts you follow in the order they posted them, Instagram will soon begin showing you the posts it thinks you most want to see. But don’t worry, this is “to improve your experience”.

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” the company says in a post on its blog. “As we begin, we’re focusing on optimising the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

Because who wants to entirely miss a gazillion photos of that concert you opted not to go to last night? Or the pictures of your friend’s newborn Aaron who looks like a drunken octogenarian alien that recently lost a fist fight, but everyone you know keeps leaving comments about how “cute” he is? Seriously, little Aaron better hope he grows up to be charming. Or rich.

Cynical? Who, us? In reality the changes to our Instagram feeds will probably be very subtle at first, so much so that most users will barely notice, and soon it’ll become so normal we’ll all forget what Instagram presented chronologically was even like.

Neither Instagram now its blue-and-white thumbs-up toting overlord are going to risk doing things to the service that’ll make it haemorrhage users. But it’s much more fun to play to the rage that’s been spewed across the internet by Instagram enthusiasts since its plans for timeline fiddling were announced. And around here fun wins almost every time.

In the sagely words of the great contemporary philosopher T-Swizzle, “Haters gonna hate.” But, fortunately for Instagram, a corollary holds true, “‘Grammers gonna ‘gram.”


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