From meme makers to the Kardashians, Instagram users have spoken out this week that their feeds are too saturated with irrelevant content. While Instagram’s parent company Meta is chasing TikTok’s astronomical growth in short video, the app’s chief Adam Mosseri has even gone so far as to say that Instagram’s priority is no longer photos. In addition, users feel that they mostly see algorithmically recommended content from accounts they don’t follow.
The most followed women on Instagram, Kylie Jenner and her sister Kim Kardashian, shared a petition this week saying, “Stop trying to be tiktok, I just want to see cute pictures of my friends.” Jenner once single-handedly drove Snap shares down because she said she wasn’t opening Snapchat anymore, so it’s probably not coincidental timing that Mosseri posted a video the next day about widespread user complaints.
If you thought that all the backlash against Instagram’s changes would prompt executives to change course, you were wrong. On Meta’s quarterly earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the recent drama surrounding algorithmic recommendations on Instagram.
“Social feeds aren’t primarily powered by the people and accounts you follow, but also increasingly by AI that recommends content you’ll 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 in our Facebook feeds is served by Meta’s AI. On Instagram, that number is even slightly higher.
“We expect these numbers to double by the end of next year,” he said. That means 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.
Fortunately, if you only want to see photos of your friends, you’ll have some desk – on Instagram, you can switch to a feed of only people you follow by tapping the Instagram logo in the top-left corner of your screen, then tapping ” Next.” Meanwhile, Facebook this week took a step to split the News Feed into “Home,” a TikTok-like feed of recommended content, and “Feeds,” 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 algorithmic content is the default.
“I want to make it clear that ultimately we are still a social company focused on helping people connect,” he said. It’s a bad sign in itself that the Facebook founder felt the need to make it clear that his company is a social business.
Why are Facebook and Instagram so determined to show us the roles of strangers rather than our friends’ brunch? Reels is a great potential money maker for Meta at a time when revenues are starting to drop. Zuckerberg announced today that Meta has achieved an annual run rate of over $1 billion on Reels ads. In addition, the amount of time we spend looking at roles has increased by 30% since the last quarter, which is likely to attract advertisers – but perhaps the reason for that increase is that we are getting so many roles through the algorithm.
So, who cares about the average user, as long as stakeholders are happy?