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Instagram to fiddle with your feed as it scraps chronological timeline

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For a growing number of social media companies, it seems delivering content in reverse chronological order just isn’t cutting it.

Developers want to get your “favorite” content at the top so you don’t miss the “good” stuff. That way, you’ll stay on the app longer, which should, in theory, lead to more eyeballs on more ads.

Instagram said Tuesday it’s started testing out algorithms with a small number of users that push “the posts you might care about the most” to the top of your feed. That means each time you open the app, the photo at the top might not be the most recent but instead an older image that the service’s algorithm thinks you really won’t want to miss.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, does a similar thing with content on its News Feed, while Twitter, too, now offers a way to push tweets it thinks you might want to see to the top of your timeline, though users can stick with the traditional chronological delivery if they wish.

In a post announcing the somewhat bold move, Instagram said that its users miss, on average, 70 percent of the content on their feeds. “As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.”

The photo- and video-sharing service said that in an effort to improve the experience, feeds “will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most….all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

By pushing the “best” stuff to the top of your feed, the company hopes you’ll be encouraged to keep on scrolling through your images so you miss less, instead of becoming bored partway through and skipping over to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or one of your other social media sites.

Aware that some users won’t like the sound of its plan to reorganize their feeds, the company is promising to “take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way.” If that feedback overwhelmingly negative, expect Instagram to quietly sweep its algorithm under the carpet, or, at the very least, offer users the chance to opt in or out of the experience.

The new system will be rolled out gradually over the coming months. What do you think? Happy that Instagram wants to help you see more of the content “you care about,” or is it Instagram’s simplicity that helps make it special? Sound off in the comments below.

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Trevor Mogg
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