After weeks in the spotlight for failing its users, Instagram has published a blog post reminding the public how we can see more of what we want on our feeds. The post does not introduce new features that might fix the overwhelming algorithm changes users have been complaining about; instead, it is simply a list of existing tools that can be used for feed customization.
“It’s important to us that you feel good about the time you spend on Instagram,” the post begins, “so we’re always working on ways to give you more control over what you see.”
These tools range widely in how easy they are to set up and how much they actually change your feed. Some, like the “Favorites” tab, don’t actually change the main feed at all, instead requiring an extra click through to a separate feed.
Overall, the post makes it clear that users will need to put work in if they want to actually enjoy Instagram. More controls will be introduced soon, too — but they’re not going to let you oust Reels from your feed just yet.
Algorithm check-in — Much of the blowback Instagram has been facing is related to changes in the algorithms that surface posts on a user’s feed. The new blog post takes a moment at the top to remind users how those algorithms function: by predicting “how likely you are to do something with a post you see.”
Here are the five interactions Instagram says it looks at with the most scrutiny:
- spending a few seconds on a post
- commenting on it
- liking it
- resharing it
- tapping on the profile photo
Of course, the complaints circulating about the Instagram feed are mostly about posts from people users don’t follow — “suggested” posts and advertisements. Instagram is quick to remind users here that suggested posts can be “snoozed” for 30 days, which doubles nicely as a reminder that there is no way to turn suggested posts off entirely.
Curation work — Instagram’s curation algorithms are, by the company’s account, meant to keep the Instagram experience easy and enjoyable. There’s a noticeable tension between this purported mission and the directions being dictated by this blog post. Here Instagram is essentially saying: Well, if you don’t like it, you can put in some work and change it.
But the algorithms are meant to be doing the work for us. Instead, they’re pushing Reels, advertisements, and suggested posts in an attempt to compete with TikTok and keep profits up. When the default is so broken you need to tell your users to fix the problem themselves... well, it’s evident Instagram isn’t changing back any time soon.
Really, though, taking all the necessary steps to train the algorithm yourself just sounds exhausting. The blog posts teases a new feature that will allow users to select multiple posts on the Explore tab and mark them as “not interested” all at once. Who wants to log into Instagram and painstakingly select every post they don’t like before they can see the ones they’ll actually be interested in?