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Opinion: Is the new Instagram algorithm necessary?

Several publications are calling it the ‘impending doom’, others have said it is the ‘death by algorithm’. Those are some of the concerns raised as Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app, Instagram looks to introduce a new algorithmic feed.

This new feed will replace the current chronological timeline that it currently offers. To quote Instagram in its blog post earlier this month:

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimising the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

If you were on Instagram yesterday, like I was, it seemed as though many influencers and bloggers were in a panic mode urging users to ‘turn notifications on’. Many mistook that the changes would be rolling out today.

The ‘turn on’ feature, as Instagram explains, was to help protect users from losing views when the new algorithmic timeline is rolled out. In response to the online flurry happening on Instagram yesterday, the company took to Twitter to assure its users that the changes are not happening yet.

Since its announcement of the new change, Instagram has received numerous feedback from its users. An online petition has even been created against the new algorithmic feed, urging Instagram to give users a choice in choosing how they should be viewing their timeline.

While the move may help heaps with the social media brand’s monetisation plans, as a regular user of the platform, I find the change somewhat unnecessary.

Fellow millennial and budding influencer, 21 year old Rachel Wong, who has over  4000 followers, also shared her concern with Marketing, saying the new change will make it harder for smaller accounts like hers, who are looking to grow in following.

“Since I’m trying to grow my follower count, I feel like this change is going to make it harder,” Wong told Marketing. 

“Because (the number of likes I get) aren’t exactly at the range of ‘popular’ or ‘top posts’ standard, I doubt my posts will be the ones that are pushed to the top of others’ feed.”

As for myself, I deem my Instagram timeline as a personal curated space and a reflection of my personality.

Currently, I follow over 500 Instagram accounts. This ranges from photographers, bloggers, chefs, celebrities, and last but not least, my family and close friends – all of which I would like to have equal screen time with.

This new change, with numerous accounts asking followers such as myself, to turn on post notifications for their uploads, adds an added pressure to consumers such as myself to further narrow my following.

Also, by turning on the notifications of those I follow, I will be receiving notifications each time a photo is uploaded on Instagram. I certainly don’t want that given that I have already turned off my WhatsApp group chat notifications to prevent my phone from buzzing every few minutes.

Moreover, just because I follow a celebrity who is holding a bottle of shampoo, doesn’t necessarily mean I will buy that shampoo. And if I have to see that post of the shampoo every time I log into my account, chances are I will un-follow the account.

The writer is 21 year old Wong Jeng Teng, currently an intern at Marketing Magazine Singapore.

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