Instagram announced today that it’s testing a new feature that gives users more control over what they see on the social network, along with a new transparency tool for creators. Now, when users see recommended posts, they can select a new “Interested” button that will inform the app that they want to see more of that type of content. The new control joins Instagram’s current personalization controls, including the Not Interested” option on suggested posts and the ability to snooze recommendations.
The company is also experimenting with new transparency notifications to help creators understand when the reach of their content, such as Reels, may be limited due to a watermark. Instagram says the new feature will help creators understand why certain Reels aren’t being distributed to non-followers. Although Instagram didn’t say what types of watermarks it’s referring to, the company is likely referencing the abundance of TikTok content that is reposted as Reels on its platform.
The new features were announced in a new blog post published by Instagram head Adam Mosseri regarding transparency around the app’s algorithms and ranking processes. In the post, Mosseri addresses shadowbanning, which is a term used to imply that a user’s content is being hidden without a clear explanation.
“Contrary to what you might have heard, it’s in our interest as a business to ensure that creators are able to reach their audiences and get discovered so they can continue to grow and thrive on Instagram,” Mosseri wrote. “If there is an audience that is interested in what you share, then the more effectively we help that audience see your content, the more they will use our platform. While we’ve heard some people believe you need to pay for ads to achieve better reach, we don’t suppress content to encourage people to buy ads. It’s a better business to make Instagram more engaging overall by growing reach for those who create the most engaging content, and sell ads to others.”
Mosseri says that users’ concerns about shadowbanning indicate that Instagram needs to do more work when it comes to helping people understand what’s going on with their account. Last December, the company expanded its Account Status hub to make it easier for businesses and creators to understand if their content is eligible to be recommended to non-followers in places like Explore, Reels and Feed Recommendations or if their content violates the company’s Recommendations Guidelines. Mosseri says Instagram plans to add more transparency tools to Account Status in the future.
The new blog post goes into detail about how content is ranked in different parts of the app. The app ranks your Feed based on your activity, such as the posts you have liked, shared, saved or commented on. Ranking is also impact based on how popular a post is and how interesting the person who posted it might be to you.
Stories are ranked based on how often you view an account’s Stories and how often you engage with that account’s Stories, such as sending a like or a DM. In addition, the app looks at your relationship with the account overall and how likely you are to be connected as friends or family.
The Explore page is ranked based on things like how popular a post seems to be, the types of post you have interacted with and your interactions with the person who posted the content. Reels are ranked based on factors like the Reels you have liked and saved, the popularity of the Reel and if you have interacted with the account.
Instagram announced a change to its ranking system last year to prioritize the distribution of original content, rather than reposted content, in places like the Reels tab and feed. The change seems to have proven to be successful, as Meta recently revealed that time spent on Instagram has grown more than 24% since the company launched Reels on the platform thanks to AI-powered content recommendations.