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Instagram, after a backlash, pauses changes to its algorithm

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

8 Aug 2022

Fashion

Image: Instagram Facebook page

The cute little square photo app that made Instagram a classic amongst the social media platforms no longer exists. Instagram’s best loved feature has morphed into one giant video reel with an algorithm bent on showing newness to users. Feeds are no longer dominated with content from followed users, but from third parties and other users, that Meta says users may find "interesting."

Instagram has been pivoting to video since 2019, but not since TikTok’s star began ascending has Instagram made such radical changes. Proclaiming the future is short-form video means photographic images could be seen as nearing obsoletion to parent Meta.

Instagram has held back on going full screen with 9:16 photos after much criticism from users. But the temporary halt will see the platform begin to roll out further testing within the next two weeks.

CEO Adam Mosseri in July confirmed Instagram’s full screen feed is in beta and is meant to be a more engaging experience. The backlash, however, has been loud and clear. Mosseri stated video dominance is happening naturally as users are posting more video than ever before. Furthermore, all video content going forward will be in the Reels format in order to simplify posting options.

Users who primarily use photography will have to grapple with the platform's new formatting and seeing less engagement. Full screen images are similar in layout to TikTok, although Instagram’s heritage square images will not work as well in a taller frame.

Many creatives are not happy with Instagram's latest updates, with marketers scrambling to change formats to video in order to garner the same results and engagement.

No sense of control

Brands and users with large communities have vocalised to have lost a sense of control, that followers are no longer seeing their content, with feeds directed to Explore pages and discovery of videos and unknown users.

Mark Zuckergerg in an earnings call confirmed the change in user feed: “AI recommending content that you'll find interesting from across Facebook or Instagram, even if you don't follow those creators. Reels is one part of this trend that focuses on the growth of short-form video as a content format, but this overall AI trend is much broader and covers all types of content, including text, images, links, group content, and more. Building a recommendation system across all these types of content is something we're uniquely focused on.”

In a separate note, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed expansion of NFT support on Instagram, following a test launch last May. Users will be able to post an NFT or digital collectible after connecting a digital wallet to Instagram.

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