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Instagram is reviving the chronological feed, with another surprise in tow

It’s finally happening: Instagram is bringing back the chronological feed that users have been demanding for years ever since it was nixed back in 2016. In a video shared on Twitter, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri revealed that the company is testing not one, but three kinds of content feed layouts: Home, Favorites, and Following.

The Home feed is what users are greeted with when they open the app, which is essentially a potpourri of content that Instagram’s recommendations algorithm has curated for users. The content users see is based on what they like and comment on, the kind of content they might enjoy based on their watching history, and more.

Testing Feed Changes 👀

We’re starting to test the ability to switch between three different views on your home screen (two of which would give you the option to see posts in chronological order):
– Home
– Favorites
– Following

We hope to launch these soon. More to come. ✌🏼

— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) January 5, 2022

The Following feed is the returning chronological feed. This will be populated by accounts that users follow, with all their posts arranged in the same order as they were posted. This feed is what a large chunk of users care about, including me and my cat. A healthy share of Instagram’s audience wouldn’t want to see content from the accounts they follow get buried in an algorithmically recommended barrage of photos and videos.

And finally, there is a third feed option called Favorites. This one actually sounds like a concentrated version of the Following feed, but populated only by accounts you really care about. In the words of Mosseri himself, he uses it to see content posted by family members, close friends, and a few of his favorite creators.

Interestingly, Favorites feed is closest to the mantra that Instagram has so often repeated — a place to connect with loved ones and share memories. I personally find myself most inclined to this idea, and wonder what took Instagram so long to actually implement it.

Delivering more than what was promised

Giving users a choice to consume only the content they want to see, and in the order in which they want to view it, should ideally have been an option from the get-go. Twitter, for example, allows users to switch between a chronological and curated timeline of tweets.

Sadly, it took a testimony before the Congress last month for it to happen on Instagram, where Mosseri himself revealed that the chronological feed was making a return. Closed-circle testing has already begun for a small bunch of users, and it will be implemented widely in the first half of 2022.

The news is definitely inspiring, but it also has its own drawbacks. For users who log on to Instagram simply for checking on what their friends and family members are up to, the upcoming Favorites feed is a godsend. But restricting it to the same order will also keep users from discovering new content and creators they might like.

This won’t bode well for Instagram’s flourishing creator community, and it’s definitely not good for businesses. But at the end of the day, Instagram is giving its real users the power to define their social media needs and behavior. Overall, it’s a net positive.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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