From meme creators to the Kardashians, Instagram users expressed this week that their feeds are too saturated with irrelevant content. While Instagram’s parent company Meta pursues TikTok’s astronomical growth in short videos, the app’s head Adam Mosseri has gone so far as to say that Instagram’s priority is no longer photos. Additionally, users feel that they are mostly seeing content recommended by algorithms from accounts they don’t follow.
The most followed women on Instagram, Kylie Jenner and her sister Kim Kardashian shared a petition this week that read, “Stop trying to be tiktok, I just want to see cute pictures of my friends.” Jenner once single-handedly took down Snap’s stock because she said she no longer opens Snapchat, so it’s probably no coincidence that the next day, Mosseri posted a video addressing widespread user complaints.
If you thought that all the backlash against Instagram’s changes would lead its executives to change course, you were wrong. On Meta’s quarterly earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the recent drama surrounding algorithmic recommendations on Instagram.
“Social feeds are moving from being primarily driven by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly being driven by AI as well, recommending content that you will find interesting on Facebook and Instagram even if you don’t follow those creators,” he said. . .
Zuckerberg said that right now, about 15% of the content on our Facebook feeds is served by Meta’s AI. That number is even slightly higher on Instagram.
“We expect these 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 follow. No wonder the Kardashians want Instagram to stop trying to be TikTok.
Luckily, if you just want to see photos of your friends, you have some agency – on Instagram, you can switch to a feed of only people you follow by tapping the Instagram logo in the top left corner of the screen and clicking “Following.” Meanwhile, Facebook took a step this week to split the news feed into “Home,” a TikTok-like feed of recommended content, and “Feeds,” which shows posts from your friends, groups, and accounts you follow. , it’s not impossible to see your friends’ content – but it’s frustrating for users that content served by algorithms 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 clarify that his company is social.
Why are Facebook and Instagram so committed to showing us strangers’ Reels instead of our friends’ brunch? Reels is a huge potential moneymaker for Meta at a time when its revenue is starting to wane. Zuckerberg announced today that Meta earns over $1 billion a year from reel ads. Also, the amount of time we spend watching Reels has increased by 30% since last quarter, which is likely to appeal to advertisers – but perhaps the cause of this increase is that we are getting so many Reels through the algorithm.
So who cares about the average user as long as the stakeholders are happy?