Instagram is bringing back a chronological feed, according to statements made by Instagram head Adam Mosseri during his testimony today before a Senate panel over the harms to young people using the app. Mosseri was asked if he believed consumers should be able to use the Instagram app without “being manipulated by algorithms,” and the executive said he would support giving people the option to have a chronological feed. He then added that the company was developing that option now, in fact.
“We believe in more transparency and accountability and we believe in more control. That’s why we’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year,” said Mosseri.
Pressed for more details on the company’s plans on this front, Mosseri noted that Instagram has been for a few years experimenting with different ways to offer users more control over their experience. One idea it tested publicly was called “Favorites,” which allowed users to pick a subset of people whose accounts they wanted to see at the top of their feeds. The other idea the company had been working on is a chronological version of Instagram, Mosseri said.
“I wish I had a specific month to tell you right now, but right now we’re targeting the first quarter of next year,” Mosseri noted as to when the chronological option would be introduced to the public.
Instagram’s switch to an algorithmic feed back in 2016 was a decision that had been fraught with controversy. Although filtered feeds were becoming the norm across social media at the time, as they improved engagement metrics, many users were unhappy with the changes. Instagram even went so far as to agree to add more recent posts to its algorithmic feed due to the user backlash in subsequent years after the new feed’s launch.
In 2020, the company had been spotted building an internal prototype of a “Latest Posts” feature that would allow users to get caught up on recent updates through a special section in the app, but it was not a full-fledged return to a reverse-chronological feed — like the one Facebook offers today as a News Feed option. The feature also never rolled out publicly to Instagram’s global user base.
Now, under oath, Mosseri is promising that users may actually get a chronological feed option once again. But it’s highly unlikely that Instagram would make this a default setting or even an obvious choice, given the benefits that an algorithmic feed brings in terms of keeping users engaged with the app.