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'Make Instagram Instagram Again': The Update in Algorithm & Backlash – Explained

Why are people unhappy with Instagram algorithm? The Quint breaks it down for you.

Published
Tech and Auto
4 min read
'Make Instagram Instagram Again': The Update in Algorithm & Backlash – Explained
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On 25 July, influencer and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner kicked up a storm when she posted a – 'Make Instagram Instagram Again. (stop trying to be TikTok, I just want to see cute photos of my friends.) Sincerely, everyone.”

With 361 million followers, Jenner's post soon went viral – with popular photographer Tati Bruening, who goes by @illumitati, even creating an online petition against Instagram's latest updates.

Why are people unhappy with Instagram algorithm? What does the company have to say? The Quint breaks it down for you.

'Make Instagram Instagram Again': The Update in Algorithm & Backlash – Explained

  1. 1. Why is Instagram's Algorithm in News?

    Since May 2022, Instagram has been gradually rolling updates for users where photos and videos appear in 'Tik Tok-like' format, taking up the entire screen. It also started testing prioritising photos on feed.

    An important part of the update is that the content users see is most likely to be ads and reels instead of pictures, and many of them are from creators you don’t follow but are ‘recommended’ by the platform itself.

    Expand
  2. 2. Why Is There Backlash?

    The new immersive experience update has been called out for trying to imitate Tik-Tok. Users are pushing for a return to a chronological timeline with priority for photos instead of videos and reels, especially from an account they do not follow.

    People on Instagram have said that they want to see pictures of their friends or people that they follow, instead of only viral videos and sponsored ads.

    Instagram influencers are also raising their voice against the updates and complaining that they are forced to upload reels as the engagement for static posts and pictures has gone down.

    Expand
  3. 3. Which Celebrities Have Spoken Out?

    Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, both in the top 10 followed accounts on Instagram, shared the post by @illumitati on their story that says: “Make Instagram Instagram again. (Stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends). Sincerely everyone.”

    The Meta's stock fell by 1.5 percent on the day and by 4.5 percent the subsequent day, after the sisters posted on their story.

    In 2018, Jenner had tweeted that she no longer used snapchat, and it was "sooo over". In the next 24 hours, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, lost approximately $1.3 billion of its share value.

    James Charles, an Instagram celebrity with 22.8 million followers commented on Instagram Head, Adam Mosseri’s explanatory video on the updates and said, “The performance of our photos has tanked more than 90% so creators are switching to video not because they want to, but because we’re being told that it’s the only chance to grow.”

    “Frankly the app has become miserable to use. Reach/engagement has plummeted, and all I see are ads at the top of my feed and Reels. I get the need to be competitive… but not at the cost of destroying what you do best,”
    Sam Stryker, Twitter editorial lead on Instagram
    Expand
  4. 4. What's Instagram's Response?

    Initially, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri released a video on the app explaining the rationale behind the changes after the backlash.

    Mosseri had said that the full-screen experience is an ongoing experiment for both photos and videos that needs improvement before it is applied across the platform completely.

    “I’m hearing a lot of concerns about photos and how we’re shifting to video. Now, I want to be clear: we’re going to continue to support photos — it’s part of our heritage… that said, I need to be honest. I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”
    Adam Mosseri on the topic of videos dominating feeds

    Discussing recommended posts from unfollowed accounts, Mosseri described this as a way to help us discover new and interesting things on Instagram that we don’t even know to exist. It is supposed to help creators reach more people.

    He also added that the app was going to stay committed to creators and supporting photos but they are also going to evolve at the same time.

    But now it seems that the backlash has forced a rethink.

    'Definitely Need to Take a Big Step Back and Regroup'

    The social media giant has decided to recall the recent changes to the product following unrelenting criticism. As per a report in The Verge, the test version of the app that featured full-screen photos and videos will be phased out over the next one to two weeks.

    Instagram will also reduce the number of recommended posts in the app as it works to improve its algorithms, it added.

    “I’m glad we took a risk – if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri said in an interview recently.

    “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. (When) we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So, we’re going to work through that, he added.”

    Expand
  5. 5. Can Your Feed Be Fixed?

    Instagram has left some control in the hands of users.

    (Photo: Instagram)

    For now, the app has given users the option to remove some parts of the update.

    You can snooze suggested posts and recommendations for a month and get filtered ‘Following’ and ‘Favourites’ versions of your feed by tapping the arrow next to the Instagram icon at the top left.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Why is Instagram's Algorithm in News?

Since May 2022, Instagram has been gradually rolling updates for users where photos and videos appear in 'Tik Tok-like' format, taking up the entire screen. It also started testing prioritising photos on feed.

An important part of the update is that the content users see is most likely to be ads and reels instead of pictures, and many of them are from creators you don’t follow but are ‘recommended’ by the platform itself.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why Is There Backlash?

The new immersive experience update has been called out for trying to imitate Tik-Tok. Users are pushing for a return to a chronological timeline with priority for photos instead of videos and reels, especially from an account they do not follow.

People on Instagram have said that they want to see pictures of their friends or people that they follow, instead of only viral videos and sponsored ads.

Instagram influencers are also raising their voice against the updates and complaining that they are forced to upload reels as the engagement for static posts and pictures has gone down.

Which Celebrities Have Spoken Out?

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, both in the top 10 followed accounts on Instagram, shared the post by @illumitati on their story that says: “Make Instagram Instagram again. (Stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends). Sincerely everyone.”

The Meta's stock fell by 1.5 percent on the day and by 4.5 percent the subsequent day, after the sisters posted on their story.

In 2018, Jenner had tweeted that she no longer used snapchat, and it was "sooo over". In the next 24 hours, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, lost approximately $1.3 billion of its share value.

James Charles, an Instagram celebrity with 22.8 million followers commented on Instagram Head, Adam Mosseri’s explanatory video on the updates and said, “The performance of our photos has tanked more than 90% so creators are switching to video not because they want to, but because we’re being told that it’s the only chance to grow.”

“Frankly the app has become miserable to use. Reach/engagement has plummeted, and all I see are ads at the top of my feed and Reels. I get the need to be competitive… but not at the cost of destroying what you do best,”
Sam Stryker, Twitter editorial lead on Instagram
ADVERTISEMENT

What's Instagram's Response?

Initially, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri released a video on the app explaining the rationale behind the changes after the backlash.

Mosseri had said that the full-screen experience is an ongoing experiment for both photos and videos that needs improvement before it is applied across the platform completely.

“I’m hearing a lot of concerns about photos and how we’re shifting to video. Now, I want to be clear: we’re going to continue to support photos — it’s part of our heritage… that said, I need to be honest. I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”
Adam Mosseri on the topic of videos dominating feeds

Discussing recommended posts from unfollowed accounts, Mosseri described this as a way to help us discover new and interesting things on Instagram that we don’t even know to exist. It is supposed to help creators reach more people.

He also added that the app was going to stay committed to creators and supporting photos but they are also going to evolve at the same time.

But now it seems that the backlash has forced a rethink.

'Definitely Need to Take a Big Step Back and Regroup'

The social media giant has decided to recall the recent changes to the product following unrelenting criticism. As per a report in The Verge, the test version of the app that featured full-screen photos and videos will be phased out over the next one to two weeks.

Instagram will also reduce the number of recommended posts in the app as it works to improve its algorithms, it added.

“I’m glad we took a risk – if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri said in an interview recently.

“But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. (When) we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So, we’re going to work through that, he added.”

Can Your Feed Be Fixed?

Instagram has left some control in the hands of users.

(Photo: Instagram)

For now, the app has given users the option to remove some parts of the update.

You can snooze suggested posts and recommendations for a month and get filtered ‘Following’ and ‘Favourites’ versions of your feed by tapping the arrow next to the Instagram icon at the top left.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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