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Instagram to reinstate a feature that everyone misses

Instagram says it’s bringing back the chronological feed so users can easily see the most recent posts first and in the order in which they were shared.

The Facebook-owned company ditched the feature in 2016 in favor of an algorithm-generated feed, which surfaces posts that it thinks you’ll like most. The algorithmic feed will remain as an alternative viewing option, possibly with another style that it’s experimenting with called Favorites.

Speaking at a Senate hearing on Wednesday that was mainly concerned with how Instagram plans to improve the safety and wellbeing of its younger users, boss Adam Mosseri said: “We’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year.”

A tweet posted later by the company’s Comms account elaborated, saying that Instagram is working on introducing several new ways for people to view their feeds.

“We’ve been experimenting with Favorites, a way for you to decide whose posts you want to see higher up, and we’re working on another option to see posts from people you follow in chronological order,” the tweet said.

We want people to have meaningful control over their experience. We’ve been experimenting with Favorites, a way for you to decide whose posts you want to see higher up, and we’re working on another option to see posts from people you follow in chronological order.

— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) December 8, 2021

It reiterated that it will probably offer a range of ways for people to view their feeds, which would presumably also include the algorithm-generated system that Instagram currently uses.

Instagram’s decision to reintroduce a chronological feed mirrors a similar move made by Twitter in 2019.

Like Instagram, Twitter ditched its chronological feed about six years ago in favor of one powered by an algorithm that surfaced “top tweets.”

For years, many in the Twitter community grumbled about the loss of the old feed, prompting Twitter to bring it back two years ago.

However, Twitter continues to fiddle with how it presents the feature, most recently offering users the chance to pin a Latest Tweets tab to the top of the main interface. This allows you to toggle between Latest Tweets and the Home tab that features posts surfaced by the algorithm.

At the current time, you can’t set the Latest Tweets as the default display, leaving you faced with the Home setting every time you open the app.

Whether Instagram presents its chronological feed in a similar way remains to be seen.

What is clear is that both companies prefer the algorithm setting as past comparison tests showed that people using that setting spent more time on the app — leading to more ad views — as the software learns what kind of posts a user likes most.

But Instagram’s move to bring back the chronological feed suggests that many users have been asking for the feature, so it’s good to see the company responding positively.

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Trevor Mogg
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