Instagram hits back at claims it limits how many people can see certain posts after user outrage

  • The posts typically start with ‘this is a test’ and say Instagram limits posts’ reach
  • However, Instagram denied this, saying it ‘never hides posts’ and said that its algorithm ranks posts based on your interactions and how often you use the app
  • Many of the viral posts were shared by bloggers, influencers and businesses

Instagram has been forced to debunk a viral rumor claiming it limits the reach of users’ posts. 

A number of posts have surfaced on Instagram warning users that the site’s algorithm has resulted in their posts being seen by only a fraction of their followers.

The posts, which contain a boilerplate message that starts with ‘this is a test’, have been circulating on the site for the past several weeks, but first started popping up not long after Instagram got rid of the chronological feed in 2016. 

Now, Instagram has explained why the post isn’t true, but some users still remain skeptical.

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Instagram has debunked a rumor claiming it limits the reach of users’ posts. The viral posts warn that the site’s algorithm means their post is only seen by a fraction of their followers

INSTAGRAM’S CHRONOLOGICAL VS. ALGORITHMIC FEED: BY THE NUMBERS

Users have repeatedly begged for Instagram to bring back its chronological feed, which was replaced in 2016 with algorithmic software. 

However, Instagram says the algorithmic feed has actually led to more users being satisfied with the app: 

  • Users were missing 70% of posts with the chronological feed  
  • They also missed 50% of friends posts
  • With the algorithmic feed, users are now seeing 90% of their friends posts
  • They’re also spending more time on the app

The posts have been shared by bloggers, influencers, small businesses and artists, among others. 

They typically read: ‘This is a test. Instagram has been limiting our posts so no more than 7 percent of our followers see them.

‘Sad but true, especially for small businesses. If you see this post, please simple [sic] like it and comment “YES.”

‘This why our ranking will improve and Instagram will start showing our posts to our friends! Thank you!,’ it continues. 

It takes after many of the chain emails and ‘copy pasta’ of internet years past, encouraging people to ‘like’ the post or share it with their friends. 

While Instagram’s algorithmic feed may mean that you don’t see new posts as quickly as before, Instagram denies that it hides posts from users’ followers. 

In a series of tweets late Tuesday, Instagram explained how it works. 


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‘We’ve noticed an uptick in posts about Instagram limiting the reach of your photos to 7 percent of your followers and would love to clear this up,’ the company wrote. 

‘What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.

 

‘We have not made any recent changes to feed ranking, and we never hide posts from people you’re following – if you keep scrolling, you will see them all.

‘Again, your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram,’ Instagram added. 

Instagram has previously said that its algorithm studies things like what posts you tend to interact with, how new a post is and who you interact with most when determining which posts appear on your feed. 

However, this explanation has done little to assuage users’ concerns. 

Many of the replies to Instagram’s Twitter thread still expressed frustration about the algorithmic feed and urged the company to bring back the chronological feed.  

‘Literally nobody cares about your explanation,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘Just go back to chronological.’ 

Another user wrote: ‘Very nice but I would prefere [sic] them in chronological order or at least the possibility to switch to it and stay that way.’

But Instagram has said it doesn’t intend to give users that option anytime soon. 

Julian Gutman, product lead for the Instagram feed, told Dailymail.com in June that giving users the option to toggle between a chronological feed and an algorithmic feed would make the app ‘too confusing.’ 

Last year, Twitter announced that it would be rolling out a button on its mobile app that gives users the option to switch between the two types of feeds. 

Many of the viral posts have yet to be taken down on Instagram. 

While Instagram doesn’t limit which posts you see, the post is true to the extent that if users comment on or like a post, it’s more likely to appear near the top of their feed.   

WHEN DID INSTAGRAM’S CHRONOLOGICAL FEED DISAPPEAR?

In 2016, Instagram introduced an algorithm-based timeline to replace chronological posts.      

And users weren’t happy. The move spurred a petition for its reversal, and the hashtag #RIPInstagram trended.   

When Instagram announced it would abandon its timeline approach, it said: ‘People miss on average 70 percent of their feeds.’

To avoid this, the app implemented a new approach that would change the order based on a persons relationships and interests.

‘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.’

Public opinion turned against the picture-sharing app as users demanded the company reverse the change.  

In just days following the announcement, a petition titled Keep Instagram Chronological was born, and it gathered 158,298 supporters in 72 hours.  

As users have grown increasingly frustrated with apps like Instagram and Snapchat, they’ve also considered turning to alternative social media platforms such as Ello and Vero, which promise to put the user experience first above algorithms.  

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