Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, with over a billion active users. Over the years, the app has made several changes to its algorithm, and now, it has taken another step to dispel misconceptions about how the app’s recommendations work. In a recent blog post titled “How Instagram Recommendations Work,” Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s top exec, broke down how the various algorithms and ranking systems work on the app and addressed the issue of shadowbanning, which has been a source of contention among creators.
According to Mosseri, there isn’t a single algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. Instead, there are multiple algorithms and ranking systems underpinning different aspects of the app, such as Explore, Reels, Stories, and search. Each of these algorithms uses a variety of signals to determine how content is ranked for each user.
For instance, the order of posts in a user’s main feed is determined by their past activity on the app, as well as their previous interactions with the person who made each post. Also, Stories take into account the viewing history of the user and how likely they are to be connected as friends or family. Recommendations in Explore, on the other hand, are largely based on the posts users have liked, saved, shared, and commented on in the past. However, they are more likely to come from accounts users have never interacted with.
One of the most interesting sections of Mosseri’s blog post is titled “Addressing Shadowbanning.” According to Mosseri, there isn’t a universal definition for the term, but many creators use it to imply that a user’s account or content is limited or hidden without a clear explanation or justification. He, however, notes that the company is working to increase transparency around when creators’ content or accounts are blocked from the app’s recommendations.
Mosseri specifically calls out the app’s feature, which can alert users if one of their posts or their account is considered “ineligible” for recommendations. The feature, which also offers an appeals process, is a notable shift in the way the company is talking about “shadowbanning,” which has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theories over the years.
While some creators may still find these explanations unsatisfying, the new details underscore just how central algorithmic recommendations are becoming to Instagram. While the app has re-introduced an optional chronological feed, Mark Zuckerberg has said his goal is to transform Instagram and Facebook into a platform that is more focused on recommendations than posts from friends.
Mosseri’s blog post is part of Instagram’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency and alleviate concerns among users and creators about the app’s algorithms and policies. In the past, Instagram has been accused of showing bias towards certain creators and failing to adequately address issues like hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Mosseri’s blog post is a step in the right direction, as it offers users and creators a better understanding of how the app’s recommendations work and how they can avoid being blocked from the platform’s recommendations.
Overall, the updated information from Mosseri provides more insight into how Instagram works and helps clarify some of the misconceptions around the app’s algorithms and policies. It remains to be seen how users and creators will respond to these changes, but it’s clear that Instagram is taking steps to become more transparent and accountable to its users.