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Instagram Feed Algorithm Changes Explained

A photo posted by Benjamin Lee (@itchban) on


It seems every time something goes wrong with Instagram, my blog gets a flood of web traffic. Turns out my blog has become somewhat of an authority on the web when it comes to Instagram and it's mechanics.

The latest bump in traffic was through my post about Instagram adding user post notifications. You must have noticed by now all the posts flooding your feed with people telling you to turn on their (3 dots) posts notifications. Chill!

If anything, turning on user post notifications for everyone you follow will only make your Instagram experience worse. I'd imagine your phone would start to look like this:

Alright guys, we turned on your post notifications. Now what? Tag a friend.

A video posted by Everlane (@everlane) on

Thanks @everlane. Instagram post notifications only works well when you have it on for a very select few of your most favourite Instagrammers. Anything more than a hand full and it will get really annoying really quickly. Trust me.

What exactly is instagram changing??

From what I gather (I do not work for Instagram), the current proposed changes are not as bad as everyone thinks. They may even end up benefiting you, helping you to get more likes & follows. It all depends on the quality of the content that you put out.

First round of feed changes

Say for example, your feed has 10 photos to show you. Normally, they would be displayed in your feed based on chronological order.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

The new proposed changes will simply reorder the way those same photos are served to you:

3, 7, 8, 5, 2, 1, 4, 9, 10, 6.

You will still see everyone's photos, they will just be in a different order. The order they show up in your feed will probably depend on a few different factors:

  • The amount of likes & follows that photo has received.

  • The number of times you've liked and commented with that users photos.

  • The number of times you've visited that persons profile.

  • How many times the people you follow have engaged with that photo and user.

  • Popularity based on your region.

The mechanics above are what govern the explore tab, but they are applied to people you actually follow. There are probably other factors that I have missed, but you get the idea. Technically if you scroll for long enough you should still see the same content as you did before the proposed feed changes. You are not missing out on anything (technically).

What you should be worried about

This hasn't happened yet, and there is no strong indication that it ever will, but if/when Instagram ever decides to start excluding people's posts altogether that is when you should start worrying. This is what Facebook currently does (Facebook owns Instagram), but Facebook's content issues are entirely different to Instagram.

Instagram have responded through a Tweet saying that they've heard us:

You need to remember that Instagram is a free app & service, and they need to keep the lights on somehow. So the next time you cop an ad in your Instagram feed, maybe complain a little less.

come follow me on instagram @itchban