Casey Newton with the scoop:
Instagram will walk back some recent changes to the product following a week of mounting criticism, the company said today. A test version of the app that opened to full-screen photos and videos will be phased out over the next one to two weeks, and Instagram will also reduce the number of recommended posts in the app as it works to improve its algorithms.
“For the new feed designs, people are frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” [Adam Mosseri] said. “So there I think that we need to take a big step back, regroup, and figure out how we want to move forward.”
But Instagram will temporarily reduce the amount of recommended posts and accounts as it works to improve its personalization tools. (Mosseri wouldn’t say by how much, exactly.)
My own Instagram use went to near-zero after I received these changes. I am surely not representative of the wider Instagram user base, but it does not surprise me that enough people found it revolting to affect the company’s metrics. What I do find notable is the intensity of the backlash: people hated this sudden shift of how the platform looked and worked.
Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica:
Despite all the negative feedback, Meta revealed on an earnings call that it plans to more than double the number of AI-recommended Reels that users see. The company estimates that in 2023, about a third of Instagram and Facebook feeds will be recommended content.
Meta’s earnings call was yesterday, and Instagram announced today that it was reverting the most recent round of changes, so the timing on this may be inaccurate. I would not bet on seeing fewer posts in your feed over the long term from accounts you do not follow; these changes are still coming, just later.
But look at the past few weeks of Meta news and it seems like the company has zero idea of what to do or why people use its products. It made drastic unlikable changes to Instagram; its leadership is panicking over TikTok; its latest public demonstration of its metaverse future is embarrassing and its educational value is less justified than the VR headset in a thirty year old Simpsons clip. Do these decisions look like the product of a focused company that has near-term goals for its future and innovative ideas beyond that? I am not saying Meta is dead in the water, but it sure looks like it is struggling to define what its future looks like for the next few years.