June 10, 2021

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The social network Instagram has tried to clarify several aspects about the operation of its content organization algorithm, and has explained the criteria that it follows to choose which publications to show first in the feed, Explore or in the Reels, or why some publications they have less visibility than others of the same account.

When Instagram was launched in 2010, the social network showed the posts of the accounts that the user followed in reverse chronological order, but with the growth of the platform, in 2016 users did not see 70% of the posts, and they were they lost almost half the content of their closest friends.

For this reason, it currently uses a series of algorithms to personalize its experience, not just one as is usually believed, one of the several “misconceptions” that users of the social network have and that it has wanted to clarify to be more transparent, such Instagram director Adam Mosseri said in a statement.

In the case of the feed, or publication board, and the ephemeral content Stories, Instagram selects all the content published by accounts that the user follows, and uses what it calls “signals”, thousands of personalized indicators for each user .

Instagram signals include information about the publication, such as the number of likes it has had, when it was published, its duration if it is a video and the location from where it was sent.

The level of interaction with other users or recent account activity is also analyzed. With this information, Instagram makes a series of predictions, “educated guesses about the likelihood that the user will interact with a post,” according to Mosseri.

The Instagram feed takes into account five types of interactions: that the user spends several seconds on a publication, that he / she comments on it, that he / she likes, saves it or that he / she clicks on the profile photo. The more likely it is for each post using signals, the sooner the content is displayed. The signals and predictions are periodically renewed.

In the case of Stories, Instagram used to not prioritize content shared from other platforms, but has now established an exception for when Stories are shared from other platforms at large sporting events or social protests.

There are other exceptions, such as cases in which a publication is identified as disinformation or those in which the content violates the content policy of the social network owned by Facebook, cases in which the publication is silenced.

THE ALGORITHM IN EXPLORING

The Explore section of Instagram uses a different algorithm than the feed and Stories, as users seek to discover new content and Instagram focuses on providing recommendations.

In these cases, Instagram selects the content that the user has liked, saved or commented on, and looks for the activity of other users who have the same interests to suggest new content.

Once you have a series of posts that the user might be interested in, the Browse order works similarly to the feed, since Instagram uses the same signals to predict the likelihood that the user is interested in each one.

OPERATION OF REELS

Instagram has also clarified how it organizes the content of its Reels section of short videos, similar to the TikTok format, which is designed to “entertain” the user and which includes much of the content of accounts that the person does not follow.

To find out what content is entertaining, the social network carries out a series of surveys in which it asks users if they consider a Reel entertaining or fun.

The indicators for prediction become, as in the case of Explore, user activity, interaction with the account that publishes it, information about the post and the popularity of some channels.

SILENT PUBLICATIONS

Likewise, Instagram has responded to users who think that the social network silences some publications because they receive lower interaction figures, such as ‘likes’ and comments, than other content.

“We can’t promise you that you will consistently reach the same number of people when you post. The truth is that most of your followers will not see what you share, because most look at less than half of your feed, “according to Mosseri.

However, the platform has acknowledged that it could have done more to explain the reasons for removing the content and ensures that it is “developing better notifications within the app” for this function, and explores new ways to let users know when a publication is against their policies.