Instagram to Bring Back the Chronological Feed Early Next Year

The chronological feed will be back as an option on Instagram, according to statements made by Instagram head Adam Mosseri during his testimony on Wednesday before a Senate panel over the harms to young people using the app.

Mosseri stressed that he would support giving people the option to have a chronological feed and that the company was developing that option now, answering a question of whether he believed consumers should be able to use the Instagram app without “being manipulated by algorithms.”

As such, the company’s algorithmically sorted feed, introduced in 2016 then updated in 2017 to include recommended posts, is widely disliked by users who prefer to have their posts and their friends’ posts surface in a timely manner.

The feed uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create what Instagram considers a personalized feed based on users’ activity. However, it has remained unpopular among a vast range of users, despite the company’s allegations otherwise.

“We’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year,” said Instagram head. He confirmed the company has been working on the feature “for months.”

In addition, Instagram also explained that it’s not moving everyone to a chronological feed, which it stopped using about five years ago. Rather, it’s creating new options and providing people with more choices.

This step is considered a huge reversal for both Instagram and Mosseri, who claimed this past summer that a chronological feed made it “impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about.”

He recognized that using the chronological feed caused many users to miss posts from the accounts they followed. “By 2016, people were missing 70 percent of all their posts in feed,” Mosseri said.

“We believe in more transparency and accountability, and we believe in more control. That’s why we’re currently working on a version of a chronological feed that we hope to launch next year,” said Mosseri.

It is worth mentioning that during 2020, the company was building an internal prototype of a “Latest Posts” feature that would allow users to get caught up on recent updates through a special section in the app. Still, it was not a full-fledged return to a reverse-chronological feed — such as the one Facebook offers as a News Feed option.

The feature was never rolled out publicly to Instagram’s global user base.

The option that many users would prefer to use promises that they may get a chronological feed option once again, but without making it a default setting or even an obvious choice, given the benefits that an algorithmic feed brings in keeping users engaged with the app.