So, Instagram (IG) announced that it was experimenting with changing its timeline. Instead of the reverse chronological order we’ve all become accustomed to, they now want to tweak the algorithm to show the “most relevant posts” first.
Sound familiar? Well, it should. Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world, tweaked its timeline back in 2009 to ditch the chronological model for an “interest and tastes” model designed to ensure that you’re not bored by a bunch of random posts (from say, the errant cousin you can’t unfriend because their family) and leave the platform.
The detail of the algorithm is a closely guarded trade secret, but presumably, they take your likes, shares, comments and several other factors into account to make a guess about what you want to see and what you don’t.
Despite MUCH initial rebellion, the modified timeline was eventually accepted by the near 1.6 billion users. So successful was the final roll out of Facebook’s modified algorithm, microblogging site Twitter attempted their own tweak earlier this year.
If unlike me, you’re following 10 accounts on Twitter, you probably won’t have a problem. But, the more accounts you follow, the more tweets are going to fill your timeline, the more likely that you’re going to miss some tweets during your periodic social media check in.
Twitter introduced “While You Were Away” a collection of tweets it determined are most interesting to you based on your previous favorites, re-posts, mentions and the like (no pun intended).
On Monday, March 28, IG users were flooded with “Turn On Notification” posts imploring them to guarantee no missed posts from their favorite accounts. Celebrities, like John Mayr, issued statements appealing to IG to abandon their new policy. The thing is, it's not policy. It is an experiment. IG never announced that it was actually changing its initial reverse chronological timeline.
Still, mark my words, a change is coming. And we better jump on board.
As social networks get more popular and by extension more crowded, we need ways to filter out content that is just not relevant. Algorithms do the heavily lifting aka filtering. If you think you can manage to do the digital social media filtering on your own and still have a physical social life, by all means try. IG will likely make the algorithm optional for its 400 million users.
Either way, there is no need to panic … unless of course, you have no data/wifi.
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