Instagram explains how its algorithms decide what content to show you

Adam Mosseri shared the first in a series of posts aimed at showing how Instagram’s algorithms work, and how they influence the content that users see. That is, how Instagram decides what content to show you.

One of the concepts it clarifies is that there is no “algorithm” that monitors everything that users do on Instagram. Rather, each section of Instagram has a different algorithm taking into account how users interact with that type of content.

For example, if you go to “Stories” or go through the Feed, it is not because you are interested in discovering what strangers do, but rather your purpose is to see what your friends or the people you follow shared. And if you go to the “Explore” tab, the reason is more than clear: discover new content or accounts, beyond the people you follow. Sections with different types of searches and interactions. And yes, also different algorithms.

This is how algorithms work in Feed and Stories

While we may think that the posts shown in the Feed and Stories simply follow the order of recent updates, it involves a lot more factors.

Instagram You have mentioned four specific criteria to illustrate how it works. On the one hand, it takes into account data about the publication, and the user who published it, to detect how interesting that content can be for us.

And on the other hand, our activity and the history of interaction with that user are taken into account to determine if the content they share may interest us. Once all this information is collected, they make a series of predictions about the level of interaction that certain content can generate based on our interest.

The more likely a post is to meet these predictions, the higher the post will display. On the other hand, no one likes to see one post after another from the same person, so Instagram take this detail into account when organizing your feed.

Of course, this is a very simplified explanation of the thousands of data and processes that these algorithms perform to display content in Stories and Feed.

How Instagram displays content in Explore

The process carried out by the algorithms in the “Explore” section is much more complex, since it is not based on the posts of the people you follow, but rather has to select content from strangers that may interest you taking into account a series of patterns .

A system that starts from your activity and your past interactions to establish that you are interested. From there, a series of connections are established to show you publications with the topic that interests you, as well as other related ones based on the accounts followed by users who share the same tastes.

Once they have a content base to show you, they have to establish which posts they will prioritize. And for this, they follow a similar dynamic to the one we mentioned in Feed and Stories: they analyze the popularity of the publication, our history of interaction with certain users, previous activity, etc.

So now you know why “Explore” can get so addictive and take up more time than you want. And of course, to all these criteria, filters and patterns, are added the Instagram policies that moderate the content that is displayed in its main sections.

In summary, Instagram says that it uses a complex system of algorithms to have a context of the publications that may interest you, but the way you use the social network is what creates the basis to define what content it shows or not.

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Lenny Li

I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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