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Instagram is working to bring back your chronological feed

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  • Adam Mosseri
    American-Israeli internet executive
Adam Mosseri
Instagram head Adam Mosseri.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED
  • Instagram is bringing back its chronological feed, which it got rid of in 2016.

  • The app has been using an engagement-based ranking, which has become controversial.

  • The algorithm has been found to prioritize divisiveness, violence, and misinformation.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said the app is bringing back the option of a chronologically-ordered feed, which it ditched in 2016.

During a congressional hearing about protecting kids online Wednesday, Mosseri told senators the company is "currently working on a version of chron feed we're hoping to launch next year."

"We've been focusing for a few years now on how to give people more control over their experience, like favorites, which puts accounts you favorite at the top of your feed," Mosseri said. "Another we've been working on for months is a chron feed. I wish I had a specific month to give you, but right now we're aiming for early next year."

So-called engagement-based rankings order content based on how likely users are to interact with those posts. Mosseri on Wednesday defined engagement-based rankings as a way to connect people with the content that they might find most appealing.

But they've become a contentious topic as critics say they've helped spawn clickbait articles, or stories that news outlets write to hook readers' attention. And engagement-based rankings have also been found to prioritize content that is violent, toxic, false, and politically divisive.

Engagement-based ranking can also lead to days-old posts surfacing in the app instead of new content, frustrating users.

Instagram and its parent company, Facebook (now called Meta), have specifically fielded criticism over their algorithms.

Former employee-turned whistleblower Frances Haugen shared documents with the press Congress that revealed, among other things, that Facebook employees were concerned that an algorithm change would promote sensationalistic content. An internal memo showed that Facebook made the change because people were using the app less.

When Instagram swapped its chronological feed for an algorithmic one in 2016, it 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. As we begin, we're focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order."

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