Instagram isn’t quite bringing back the chronological feed but it will show more new posts and stop suddenly bumping you to the top of the feed while you’re scrolling. “With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about” Instagram writes. It should be more coherent to browse the app now that you won’t get bumped to to the top of your feed and lose your place because your feed randomly refreshes, and there shouldn’t be as many disparate time stamps to juggle. Instead, you’ll be able to manually push a “New Posts” button when you want to purposefully refresh the feed.
Instagram switched from a reverse chronological feed to a relevancy-sorted feed in June 2016, leading to lots of grumbling from hardcore users. While it made sure you wouldn’t miss the most popular posts from your close friends, showing days-old posts made Instagram feel stale. And for certain types of professional content creators and merchants, cutting their less likeable posts out of the feed — like their calls to buy their products or follow their other social accounts — was detrimental to their business.
Instagram’s VP of product Kevin Weil’s tweet indicates Instagram really is listening to all the complaints about the algorithmic feed:
Interestingly, despite all the anger about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook movement, we haven’t seen nearly as many calls to #DeleteInstagram. In fact, the #DeleteFacebook trend seems to overlook the corporate parent company that owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus. Instead it focuses on just Facebook’s app, indicating that the scandal blowback might not be as much of an existential crisis.
If anything, the shift to the algorithmic feed caused much more of an uproar that any political issue or privacy scandal. While Facebook has become a core utility by bringing your real world identity to the Internet, Instagram is the pleasureful escape from that real world. And people get a lot more angry when you mess with their behavior patterns than when you highlight some abstract threat like misused personal data.