It was only a matter of time. Today, Instagram announced it is killing off one of its most defining features, the purely chronological timeline. Soon, Instagram will go the route of Facebook and become a curated feed.
Much like Facebook’s own switch to curated feeds, Instagram will inevitably receive backlash. And rightly so.
Instagram has become the method for sharing photos, be it for journalistic, branding or straight-up social means. Any small tweak to its current architecture might upset users…users who already aren’t fond of the growing amount of advertisements put into their feed.
Instagram says the change to a curated feed will be ‘based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post […] all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.’
The above quote might seem like nothing more than marketing talk, but a key component there is the fact that no images will be removed; they’ll only be in a different order.
This is key because removing images, even by algorithm, turns it into a twisted game of roulette where certain content is prioritized over another for what are almost always arbitrary reasons. It also means that the journalism aspect of Instagram will remain mostly unchanged, as important and breaking news will only further be prioritized in the feeds for users to see.
This transition to a curated feed very likely explains the recent change to Instagram wherein the timestamp of photos are displayed in a precise manner, rather than listing a vague time, such as ‘1m ago’ or ‘3 days ago.’
Overall, Facebook wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t benefit them financially. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a responsible manner. Instagram assures users that they’re ‘going to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way,’ but only time will tell.