Instagram famously ditched the chronological version of the feed in its app years ago and substituted an algorithmic-based one. But as pressure mounts on the company to make its app safer for young people, it is apparently bringing it back.
Speaking to lawmakers in a Senate hearing on Instgram and the safety of teens, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said that he supports the idea of giving users the option to have a chronological feed.
“We’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year,” Mosseri said, adding that the company has been working on it “for months” and that it could be expected in the first quarter of 2022.
Mosseri did not provide further details, nor did he describe what “a version” of the chronological feed meant and how it would be different from what existed in the past.
As noted by Engadget, adding the chronological feed back into Instagram would be a major reversal of policy. In a blog post from June, Mosseri explained that the algorithm was added because he claimed users were missing large chunks of their feeds.
“When we first launched in 2010, Instagram was a single stream of photos in chronological order. But as more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about,” Mosseri wrote.
“By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.”
This has not necessarily been the case for some users, as the algorithm can sometimes learn to completely filter out some users from a feed and never show them to a follower. Additionally, the algorithmic-based feed likely made it much more profitable for Instagram and its advertisers.
Mosseri and Instagram have been extremely active lately in response to mounting pressure and outcry regarding Instagram’s effect on young people. What started with a bombshell report from the Wall Street Journal has cascaded into investigations and public cries for oversight. Ahead of Mosseri’s hearing, Instagram hastily pushed the “take a break” feature (which is significantly weaker than originally pitched) and promised that additional safety features and parental controls would be coming in 2022.