Last month we found out that Instagram is finally planning to bring back the chronological feed. Now we have our first look at how it will work — and the good news for any fans of the algorithmic curation is that that’s not going anywhere.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri shared a video on Twitter and (naturally) Instagram briefly explaining the feature and showing how it looks.
“In the future we’ll have three different feeds in Home,” he said, referring to the main tab of the app where your (currently non-chronological) grid and story feeds live. “The first we’ll call Home — which is the Instagram experience you know today, where we rank content based on how interested we think you are in each and every post, to try to make the most of your time.”
The second, he explained, will be Favorites — a “subset” you can customise to keep a closer eye on posts from certain users you don’t want to miss a post from, like family and friends or Phoebe Bridgers. And the third — drumroll please — is Following, a feed of posts from accounts you follow, in chronological order by time posted. What a concept!
There’s a monkey-paw caveat, of course: Mosseri noted that the Home option “is going to have more and more recommendations over time.” Translation? Probably way more posts in your main feed from accounts you don’t actually follow. If the algorithm curating my Explore page is any kind of guide, I’m looking forward to those “recommendations” constantly backsliding into gross dieting infographics and month-old TikToks no matter how much I try to make it show me dogs and memes.
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But most importantly, Instagram has listened to the users who have spent years begging for the chrono feed. It’s real, it’s here, and, Mosseri says, they’re testing it now and over the next few weeks. Instagram and Meta didn’t immediately respond to our requests to confirm which user subsets or markets are currently testing the feature, but Mosseri said in his video post that the three view options functionality will roll out “in the first half of the year”.
“It’s important to me that people feel good about the time that they spend in the app,” Mosseri said. “And I think giving people ways to shape Instagram into what’s best for them is one of the best ways to pursue that goal.”
That comment feels a lot like a nod to parent company Meta’s reputation for making people feel bad — whether it’s Instagram’s own research showing the app can exacerbate teenagers’ mental health struggles or Facebook’s algorithm actively prioritising content that made people angry.
Now, if they can just add a chronological option for Facebook’s News Feed instead of the rage-bait firehose, we’ll really be getting somewhere.