Instagram chief Adam Mosseri shed some light on how the social network determines what you see in a new blog post published on Tuesday. The statement appears to be at least partly intended to combat persistent rumors that Instagram is intentionally hiding or disapproving of certain posts, which Instagram says isn’t entirely true.
The short answer to how Instagram works is that it is complicated. Instagram uses “thousands” of signals to determine what you see in your feed, Mosseri says, and there isn’t just one algorithm that determines what appears in front of you. But the company is also committed to better explaining why content is being removed and how the service comes to messages, he writes. One of the more surprising revelations: Most Instagram followers won’t see your posts anyway because “most people look at less than half of their feed.”
Tuesday’s blog is just the first in a series that “will shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it’s impacting the experiences people have in the app,” so it looks like we’ll be in the future. more detailed breakdowns can be expected.
In this first blog post, Mosseri explained that Instagram “uses a variety of algorithms, classifications, and processes, each with its own purpose” to determine what they show you. He then broke the “signals” Instagram uses to bring up something in your feed or in stories. Here are the “key” signals, “roughly in order of importance:”
Information about the message. These are signals about how popular a post is (think of how many people have liked it) and more mundane information about the content itself, such as when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
Information about the person who posted. This helps us get an idea of how interesting the person may be to you, and includes cues such as how often people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
Your activity. This helps us understand what you may be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you like.
Your history of interacting with someone. This gives us an idea of how interested you generally are in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not to respond to each other’s messages.
Instagram then predicts how you’ll interact with a post, such as commenting or liking it. “The more likely you are to take an action, and the more heavily we weigh that action, the higher up you’ll see the post,” Mosseri said.
Mosseri also discussed how people are accusing the service of silencing or “shadowing” users and said the company will better explain why content is being removed. “We’re developing better in-app notifications so people know right away why their post has been removed, and are exploring ways to let people know when what they’re posting violates our Recommendations Guidelines,” Mosseri said. Instagram has “more to share soon” about those updates.
The blog post also details the signals the company uses to show you content on the Discover tab and on Reels (Instagram’s TikTok-like video service) — which notably shows you mostly content from accounts you use. do not to follow.
Mosseri’s explanation catches on as Instagram takes off the Creator Week event, designed to help creators build their brands on the platform.