Should we be freaking out over the ‘new’ Instagram?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 29, 2016 17:49 IST
Instagram announced that it would be implementing changes in its algorithm to alter the order in which posts were displayed on its app which caused a severe backlash among users. (Flickr)

The Instagram world had a melt-down on Monday.

The reason? Earlier this month, the social networking site had announced that it would be implementing changes in its algorithm to alter the order in which posts were displayed on its app.

In its post, Instagram said, “The order of photos and videos in your 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.” It also gave cute examples of how you’d never miss out on a post by your best friend or your favourite musician because these would be moved to the top of your feed.

But somehow, some users construed this to mean that the rearrangement would cause some of their posts to stay unviewed. And then, of course, everybody freaked out.

It should be pointed out here that at no point did the site mention a set date for the roll-out, but by Monday, rumours had spread that everyone’s Instagram lives would be changed forever by Tuesday.

This prompted thousands of users to take to their phones and request their followers to subscribe to their updates. The way to do this, they said, was to choose to get a push notification each time this person posted a photo or a video.

im so scared TBH 😨

A photo posted by OfficialSeanPenn (@officialseanpenn) on

This led to hilarious rebuttals.

#instagram #instagramupdate #postnotifications

A photo posted by @_theletterg on

Someone even went forward and created a petition to #keepinstagramchronological.

But has the end really come upon us?

According to Instagram -- which had to step in quell the madness -- no. The algorithm change has only been rolled out for very small test groups at the moment, so most users are still ‘safe’.

Secondly, is this really a big deal? Will users’ worst fears – that their posts will be buried under those by more ‘popular’ users – come true? Again, the answer seems to be no.

Say, ‘n’ posts accumulated in your feed since the last time you checked it, under the new algorithm, every single one of those ‘n’ posts will still be waiting for you when you launch the app. They will just be ordered differently, which means that below the photos of your sister’s new cats and your best friend’s night out, you’ll still find all the posts by all the other people you follow. There will be no ‘missing out’ on posts, as several people have been freaking out over.

The site’s move to push ‘relevant’ posts has been triggered by the fact that users miss, on an average, 70% of their feeds. This may especially be true if you follow several hundreds of users and don’t check your feed every few hours. In this context, then, the change doesn’t sound like an altogether bad idea.

And this means that we can all calm down now.

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