Itnstagram is trying to get TikTok’s algorithm better and has begun asking users to provide input.
The social media app, owned by Meta Platforms Inc., is now allowing users to select and indicate that they are “not interested” in multiple posts at once within the Explore tab, the section on the app where users can discover content and accounts they aren’t already following. In the past, users could mark one post as unimportant.
Instagram is also testing a feature that would allow users to mute certain words, hashtags or emojis that might show up in the posts Instagram puts in their feed from people they aren’t already following.
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“We recognize that people sometimes want different things from different sessions, or their interests or needs from Instagram change quickly over time in a way we’re not going to be able to reflect in our ranking alone,” Tessa Lyons-Laing, Instagram’s director of product management, said in an interview.
Let’s say a user wanted to see wedding planning information in advance of their big day. Lyons Laing explained that after their nuptials, the user may no longer be interested in that kind of content. They may be able to quickly clean their feed by making these changes.
Instagram has made major improvements to its app in the last two years. Instagram now populates feeds with algorithmically generated content instead of posts that users choose to follow. It’s in direct response to competition from a growing rival, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, which has captivated the attention of younger users with its feed called “For You” that is algorithmically generated.
Instagram and Facebook have mastered the art of suggesting content to you based upon what you’ve liked and followed, but TikTok is unique in that it can introduce you to new interests or communities through your actions within the app.
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Instagram’s mimicking of TikTok’s playbook has drawn the ire of users, including a call from reality-show celebrity Kylie Jenner for the app to return to its roots of posts from friends. Users can view the posts of accounts that have been added to their favorites or follow them. This helps to keep some of that feeling alive.
“We’re always going to be working to make our ranking systems that deliver content to you as personalized and relevant and engaging as possible,” Lyons-Laing said. “We’re also always going to continue to give you explicit controls that enable you to customize that experience because we’re just not always going to get it right.”
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