Instagram "Latest Posts" experiment could bring back the halcyon days of a chronological feed

The ads aren't going anywhere, though.

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Instagram has been rolling out a slew of features in recent months like GIF replies to Instagram stories and a tool to figure out who you should probably unfollow. But now, rumor has it the company is testing a "Latest Posts" feature — similar to one Twitter offers — where it'll show the most recent posts from those you follow in reverse chronological order, rather than showing posts in an algorithmically-defined and advertiser-optimised order. This would bring back a feature from the the service's old school days.

This is all according to a tweet from engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who discovered the feature hiding in Instagram's code. The feature would appear as a pop-up proclaiming "Welcome Back" and would give users the option to see the freshest content in their feed.

No plans to launch, yet – Alexandru Voica, EMEA communications manager for engineering at Facebook replied to Wong's tweet confirming the feature was an early prototype from a recent Facebook hackathon. He went on to add: "It is not available to anyone publicly, and we have no plans to test or launch it at this time."

Which is a pity — Things haven't been the same since 2016 when Instagram first swapped its beloved reverse chronological order feed for an algorithmic one shaped by the posts and accounts users interact with most.

For OG Insta users, the move away from showing posts in order of timestamps was the beginning of the decline of Instagram. For Instagram, it was the beginning of its efforts to monetize and make its buyer, Facebook, a return on its substantial investment.

The complaints haven't done much to stifle enthusiasm for the image-sharing service, though. Instagram generated a quarter of Facebook's advertising revenue in 2019, and teen users are finding innovative ways to use it as a contemporary eBay alternative. We'd love to see a return to the chronological timeline, but maybe that's just our age showing.