Instagram tries to explain its user feed algorithm, again

Instagram all caught up

Instagram, the popular photo- and video-sharing app from Facebook can’t seem to catch a break. One month after trying to explain how it adds content to feeds, it’s out with some more clarification. The all-new “You’re All Caught Up” tool is showing up on feeds around the world on iOS and Android devices. 

As Instagram explains:

Today, you’ll start noticing a “You’re All Caught Up” message when you’ve seen every post from the last two days. We’ve heard that it can be difficult to keep track of your seen posts. With this message, you’ll have a better understanding of your Feed and know you haven’t missed recent photos or videos.

Two years ago, Instagram replaced the app’s chronological feed with one that used an algorithm. Though the change was supposed to encourage users to dig deeper for content, it wasn’t well liked by everyone. In fact, many felt the change was confusing.

Last month, Instagram went further and explained how the algorithm was used to present feeds. It said three main factors based on a user’s past actions and behaviors, determine how the feed was built. This included:

  1. Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.
  2. Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.
  3. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

The “You’re All Caught Up” message is supposed to clarify things even further, although I’m not sure it’s going to make any difference.

This isn’t Instagram’s only recent change. Just last week, it began rolling out a trio of new features it previewed back in May, including video chat with up to four people at once via Direct, a redesigned Explore tab, and new camera effects for Stories.

What do you think? Will “You’re All Caught Up” make Instagram feel more useful or not?