Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Instagram Is Going to Start ‘Suggesting’ Posts Throughout Users’ Feeds

Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch:

The days of a scrolling to the end of your Instagram feed look to be coming to an end. After adding algorithmic suggestions to the bottom of the app last year, Instagram is running a test that would splice more recommended posts from accounts you don’t follow into the feed with those you do.

[…]

The experiment might not make it into the final product, but from the way the winds over at Facebook have been blowing lately it looks pretty likely. Like we mentioned, Instagram and parent company Facebook introduced some tools to give people more control over their own behavior on the notoriously addictive-by-design apps back in 2018, including the “You’re all caught up” message and a way to track time spent.

[…]

In 2020, it sounds like Facebook is done humoring those concerns. Instagram is feeling the heat from TikTok’s preternaturally well-tuned endless algorithmic feed and booming success. Like it has so many times in the past, the company is looking to shift its own identity to chase a threatening competitor rather than staying the course or trying something new.

The warped language of this increasingly terrible idea fascinates me. A “suggestion” in day-to-day use is a small piece of advice, perhaps, that you can choose whether to devote attention toward. A “suggested” picture in Instagram appears between posts from people you actually follow and ads, and there is no way to opt out. You have to give it approximately the same attention you would give any other photo or ad.

The expansion of “Suggested Posts” to the bottom of the timeline was so off-putting to me that I stopped using Instagram for several months, until I discovered that almost none of the worst parts of the service appear on the web version. I missed catching up with friends, and the web offers a much better experience than the app. Unfortunately, I found that pictures I was posting through the web were noticeably compressed. Compare this puddle shot with this one — the first one looks blurry and lacks definition. I promise the originals have similar sharpness.

So, maybe a month ago, I started using the app again a little more. I do not love it; I find its inevitable and growing Facebook-ization off-putting. The reason Facebook is able to make user-hostile decisions like these is the same reason it was hard for me to stay away from Instagram: it is, for many, the social network to catch up with real-life friends.

VentureBeat’s Sage Lazzaro on Twitter:

None of the “social networks” are actually social networks anymore. None of them are interested in helping us connect with friends. It’s just about pushing as much content — especially monetized content — on us as possible.

Exactly — down to the word “content”.