Instagram has brought back the chronological feed

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 06 January 2022 11:08

Instagram is finally bringing back its chronological feed.

The feature has gone into testing and a finalised version will arrive in people’s apps in the first half of this year, according to Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram.

Users will actually be able to choose from two new options. The first, “Following”, sorts posts chronologically; another called “Favorites” does the same but showing posts from particular accounts.

There will still be the option to choose the current algorithmically sorted feed, which will be referred to as “home”.

But that section is also set to change, with Mr Mosseri promising “more and more recommendations over time”. As such, it could bring features from the “discover” tab, which finds posts from accounts users are not following.

The tests are already out or will be arriving with people in the next few weeks, Mr Mosseri said. Instagram and its parent company Meta often push out changes to select users first, before broadening them out to everyone.

Instagram had a chronological feed from its beginning. But in 2016, it switched to an algorithmic one, using tracking of people’s behaviours to try and guess what they might want to see most, in the same way as on Facebook.

The changes faced backlash from users who felt they would miss out on posts and did not want automated systems to order their app. It also arrived at the same time as more ads being interspersed within those posts, which also led to frustration from users.

The addition of a chronological feed follows not only that anger from users but also increased regulatory and legal challenges to Instagram and Meta. News feeds – particularly those on Facebook – have received sustained criticism from whistleblowers and experts, who argue that they encourage users to post inflammatory content and promote divisive posts.

That criticism has even led to potential legal solutions. Two pieces of proposed legislation in the US – the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act – take aim at such algorithmic ordering, and the latter would require apps to allow users to switch to chronological feeds.

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