Instagram confirms it's changing the feed to an algorithm

Prepare to panic: Instagram said it’s changing users’ timelines to an algorithm.

In a move that shadows its sister social network Facebook, the photo-sharing app said in a blog post that it will soon do away with the chronological-based approached it’s used since 2010. Photos and videos will soon appear based on “your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

The New York Times, which first broke the news, revealed that Instagram is reordering the timeline because users miss about 70 percent of their feed. And with more than 400 million regular visitors, the platform’s chronological timeline is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with.

Instagram detailed to the Times how the new feed will be ordered:

Instagram plans to rely on its machine-learning technology and a mix of signals to determine the order of photos and videos in users’ feeds, including the likelihood a person will be interested in the content, the timeliness of the posts and the relationship between the two users. As they are now, posts will be clearly stamped with the date they occurred.

The change won’t occur overnight, either. Instagram will roll out the new feed in small batches with “single-digit percentage” of users to study what changes will be rolled out to everyone. It’s unclear, however, if users can opt-in to the new timeline.

“The shift will not affect Instagram’s advertising products, which already use and rely on similar targeting principles to serve ads to users,” the Times added. Brands have previously told Digiday they welcome the change.

Ultimately, the plan is to get people to spend more time on the app so it can serve more ads and make lots of more money.