Instagram annoyed many of its users when it took away the chronological feed on its app. However, the social media network has decided to return the feature.
For more than five years, Instagram users have been subjected to non-chronological feed, meaning the app uses a custom algorithm to determine the content that you see. Now, your feed can automatically sort posts by date and time. The update is rolling out gradually to users worldwide after the platform confirmed it was working on it late last year.
Note, however, that chronological feed is not the default. Neither can you abandon the algorithm-based feed completely, at least not at this stage. You can only move between the default home algorithm feed, a following feed that returns the chronological listing, and favorites. The last feed can include posts from up to 50 accounts that you have favorited.
Users can switch between all the feeds by tapping on the new dropdown menu in the top left corner when they open the app.
This return of the chronological feed is a reversal of Instagram’s stance on algorithm-based feed, which it had defended vigorously despite many complaints and even conspiracy theories about Instagram’s real aim.
For instance, just last June, Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, published a lengthy explaining how the algorithm ranked posts. He claimed that when Instagram abandoned the chronological feed in 2016, “people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections.”
However, the algorithm feed came under fire recently when Instagram was criticized for its impact on the mental health of its teenage users. Since it was the algorithm that decided what the users saw, the company was directly responsible for any adverse effect the platform had.
Researchers demonstrated how easy it was for users to go down rabbit holes of harmful subjects like drugs and suicide using hashtags, which caught the attention of lawmakers. Some lawmakers even asked for algorithms to be regulated. During a hearing in Congress, Mosseri hinted that chronological feed would return. This would at least let Instagram claim the user could determine what they see by curating their feed.
Meanwhile, Instagram had been more active in slotting in suggested posts and Reels into users’ feeds. Also, Facebook’s usage has been dipping, and the platform is seriously hit in the most lucrative market, even though it still has billions of daily users. Other social media have been competing fiercely for users with Facebook, including Snapchat and TikTok.