Instagram is the hottest topic of the month. From releasing info about their explore algorithm, to removing ‘likes’ globally. Here’s our breakdown of the main points.
Removing likes has gone global
Last month, Instagram tested hiding likes on a global scale. They did this (partly) to crack down on criticism around mental health. The argument is that social metrics, such as likes, have a negative impact on frequent social media users. By ranking posts in terms of how likeable they are, it encourages users to fixate on numbers. It’s an effective… and somewhat addictive reward system.
Users will now no longer be able to see the total number of likes (and views) on photos and videos in the feed. No likes = no criticism. It’s unclear how this will impact social media influencers, who rely on interaction rates to bring in clients, though for now, the influencer industry isn’t going anywhere!
So, did you notice Instagram removing likes? Is it a step in the right direction?
The Instagram Explore page
Instagram has also shared new details about the AI behind their explore tab. The platform has been scrutinised in the past for pushing users towards dangerous & extreme posts. They also host an incredibly varied range of content, so it’s interesting to see how this all gets organised.
What did they reveal?
Instagram identifies accounts that are similar to one another through “word embedding.” Basically, this means that posts are associated with certain words, and these words are mapped onto a complex network of vectors. By understanding how these vectors all link up (and when), the AI can guess (pretty successfully) what we’d like to see. The more info it collects, the better it gets. Our posts aren’t understood in isolation, but within the context of all other posts deemed similar to them.
After this, the Explore system looks at “seed accounts,” which are accounts that users have interacted with in the past (by liking or saving their content). The system identifies accounts similar to these (using the vector thing), and from them, selects 500 pieces of content.
THEN Instagram filters this content to remove spam, misinformation, and “likely policy-violating content”. (How does Instagram determine what’s “policy-violating”? Who knows.)
FINALLY, the top 25 posts are sent to the first page of the user’s Explore tab.
And there you go, that’s your explore page.
Much like Google’s search algorithms, it takes a bit of guesswork to pin down how Instgram ranks “good content” from “bad”. However, we can assume that accounts which post strongly related content on a regular basis (be it fitness, or food) are heavily favoured. Instagram is trying to show people accounts that they will like, not just individual posts. Looks like it’s time to get your vectors in order.
The Verge have a great article about this, if you’d like to learn more.
In other news:
- Instagram launches video-music feature “Reels”, could this be Instagram taking market share from Tik Tok?
- Facebook & Instagram crash on thanksgiving with users unable to share photos. Could Christmas and New Years have similar issues?
- Amazon influencers are growing in importance
- Twitter began deleting inactive accounts, but stopped over concerns that it will delete profiles of deceased
- Facebook is building a close friends stories feature, similar to Instagram
- Singapore forces people to edit Facebook posts under a new “Fake News law“
- Facebook launches an experimental meme app called “Whale”
- Youtube launches shopping ads
- Facebook debuts Facebook Pay
That’s all for November! Loads of stuff happening in other news,
which we’ll hopefully have more information on soon.
Now… onto Christmas!