Although social media seems to be extremely simple, it is laden with complexity internally. Everything from suggested accounts to ads to be shown to you is measured by algorithms – even the order of your feed.
In its early days, Instagram worked with a reverse chronological order, so that users could view the posts in the order in which the accounts they followed had published them. The news feed in chronological order disappeared more than 5 years ago on Instagram, in favor of an algorithm-based ranking. Good news: it will make its comeback in 2022! Indeed, after having worked on the option for several months already, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, confirmed the rumors.
The new change was made known during a hearing in the US Senate on how Instagram handles the safety of children and adolescents. Adam Mosseri explained that the company has been working on bringing this feature back for several months but did not share additional details on how it was actually going to work. He also did not want to specify the exact date of the new update, although he claimed that it will come out in the first quarter of 2022.
“We believe in more transparency and accountability and we believe in more control. That’s why we’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year” – Adam Mosseri
So, should we expect an Instagram feed “like before”? Not really. In fact, the chronologically ordered feed should be offered as an option rather than the default, as Instagram suggests:
“We want to make it clear that we are creating new options – giving users more choices so they can decide what works best for them – not bringing everyone back to a chronological flow.”
The engineer and application researcher Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted in early December a preview of what this option could look like:
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) October 29, 2021
A Favorites Tab to Highlight Your Favorite Accounts
Another new feature confirmed is “Favorites”. With this feature users will be able to select the accounts of their favorite friends or creators to highlight their posts in the Feed.
We want people to have meaningful control over their experience. We’ve been experimenting with Favorites, a way for you to decide whose posts you want to see higher up, and we’re working on another option to see posts from people you follow in chronological order.
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) December 8, 2021
One of the most common benefits of the chronological order is that it can supposedly help prevent the spread of misinformation and algorithmic bias. Facebook informant Frances Haugen stated in October on the matter:
I’m a strong proponent of chronological ranking, or ordering by time with a little bit of spam demotion, because I think we don’t want computers deciding what we focus on.
Of course, the chronological feed runs the risk of diminishing user experience, which is probably one of the reasons it takes so long to reimplement. Adam Mosseri has surely left everyone with a thread of suspense – but there are already users and influencers who in the Stories invite their followers to add them in their “Favorites Feed”, just so as not to lose following and interaction until the next update.
Don’t expect the chronological feed to go back to the default for everyone, but it’s good to know that there may at least be an opportunity for us to go back to simpler times. Looks like we’ll learn more in the coming months so stay tuned! It will be an Instagrammable 2022!