Of meme creators to the Kardashians, Instagram users this week said their feeds were too saturated with irrelevant content. As Instagram’s parent company Meta continues TikTok’s astronomical growth in short-form video, app chief Adam Mosseri has even gone so far as to say that Instagram’s priority is no longer Pictures. Additionally, users feel like they’re seeing mostly content recommended by algorithms from accounts they don’t follow.
The most followed women on Instagram, Kylie Jenner and her sister Kim Kardashian this week shared a petition that read: “Stop trying to be tiktok, I just want to see cute pictures of my friends. Jenner once single-handedly drove Snap’s stock down because she said she doesn’t open Snapchat anymore, so it’s probably not a coincidence that the next day, Mosseri posted a video respond to numerous user complaints.
If you thought all the backlash against Instagram’s changes would cause its leaders to change course, you were wrong. During Meta’s quarterly earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the recent drama around algorithmic recommendations on Instagram.
“Social feeds are going from being primarily driven by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also driven by AI recommending content you find interesting on Facebook and Instagram, even if you don’t follow those creators” , did he declare. .
Zuckerberg said that currently about 15% of the content in our Facebook feeds is served by Meta’s AI. This number is even a little higher on Instagram.
“We expect those numbers to double by the end of next year,” he said. This means that over 30% of our feeds on Instagram and Facebook will be filled with content from accounts we don’t actually follow. It’s no wonder the Kardashians want Instagram to stop trying to be TikTok.
Luckily, if you just want to see photos of your friends, you’ve got some agency — on Instagram, you can switch to a feed of people you only follow by tapping the Instagram logo in the top left corner of your screen, then by clicking “Next.” Meanwhile, Facebook took a step this week to split newsfeed in “Home,” a TikTok-like recommended content feed, and “Feed,” which shows you posts from your friends, groups, and accounts you follow. So it’s not impossible to see your friends’ content, but it’s frustrating for users that algorithm served content is the default.
“I want to make it clear that we are still ultimately a social enterprise focused on helping people connect,” he said. It’s a bad sign in itself that the founder of Facebook felt the need to make it clear that his company is social.
Why are Facebook and Instagram so determined to show us Reels of strangers instead of our friends’ brunch? Reels is a big potential money maker for Meta at a time when its earnings are starting to decline. Zuckerberg announced today that Meta has achieved an annual run rate of over $1 billion on Reels ads. Additionally, the time we spend looking at Reels has increased by 30% since the last quarter, which is likely to appeal to advertisers – but the reason for this increase may be that the algorithm serves us so many Reels.
So who cares about the average user as long as the stakeholders are happy?