Instagram head Adam Mosseri decided to shed some light on how technology works in his service. The company intends to release a series of publications on its blog to explain certain points of interest to users. In the first one, you can get answers to questions such as “Why do some posts get more views than others?”, “How does Instagram decide what to show to the user?” etc.
From the very beginning, Adam Mosseri made it clear that Instagram does not have a single algorithm that would monitor what is shown to the user in the application. The service uses many algorithms, classifiers, and processes, and each one performs a specific task. According to Mosseri, in 2016, the number of active Instagram users reached such a level that people began to skip up to 70% of the content in the feed. Therefore, it was decided to rank publications by importance and frequency of views. Each part of the app – Feed, Explore, Reels – has its own algorithm adapted to how people use them.
About tape and stories
These are the places where users want to see content from loved ones, people who are most important to them. The work of the algorithm here is divided into several stages. First, the focus is on messages shared by users who are in the subscription. That is, the overwhelming majority sees what their friends and acquaintances share. Then the preferences are taken, which are referred to by the developers as “signals.” The most important signals are:
- post information (popularity, likes, publication date, video duration, location);
- information about the person who posted it;
- user activity;
- communication with users.
All this gives an idea of how much the user is generally interested in the messages of this or that person. At the third stage, predictions are made – reasonable assumptions about how the user will interact with the proposed content: he will spend a few seconds on the publication, comment on it, like it, save it to favorites, or go to the author’s profile. Over time, some signals are removed, and new ones are added to reflect what is really interesting to each user.
Instagram supports freedom of expression but is guided by community guidelines. Most of the rules aim to ensure people’s safety, so publications that contradict them are removed. For multiple violations, the user can be blocked. The service also punishes for misinformation. In addition to the corresponding marking, posts of such users are less often shown to others.
The Explore tab was designed to open up something new, and the content here is very different from what gets in the feed and stories, but the way it works is similar. In fact, these are trends that the service selects for each user using a different algorithm. Having picked up photos and videos that may interest him, the service organizes them according to how much he is interested in each publication.
Usually, the recommendations include posts of people who are not subscribed, which allows you to change the dynamics if the forecasting and signals do not work as expected. It is noteworthy that there is practically no negative content on the Explore tab. Instagram tries to avoid posts that may upset or offend the user and promote the use of cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
Users often accuse Instagram of hidden blocking and that their posts receive fewer likes or comments. Adam Mosseri says this is not because the service promotes some posts and discourages others. It’s just that most users view less than half of their feed. The head of Instagram has promised improved notifications that will explain why the post was removed and separate warnings when the post violates the rules of the service.
Can Instagram content be influenced?
Instagram directly affects what the user sees (or does not see) in their feed. Here are some tips on how to shape the content you want:
- choose close friends so that the service gives priority to the publications of these people both in the feed and in stories;
- disabling uninteresting profiles is the best solution for those who do not dare to unsubscribe from someone completely. In this case, the owners of such accounts will not know that they have been disabled;
- mark recommended posts as not interesting. This will avoid similar publications in the future.