This blog post has been updated 13.1.2019

The history of the Instagram algorithm does not really stretch that far. In 2016 the company released a statement announcing that the chronological feed would be no more.

Bye bye seeing the newest post first, hello algorithm-optimized feed!

But why did the company change the order of the feed in the first place? In order to understand the history of the Instagram algorithm, it is useful to consider the history of the company.

Photo by Jakob Owens

The History of Instagram

When the app was released in 2010, it went from a handful of users to the number one free photography app in a matter of hours. And by December of the same year, Instagram had over 1 million users.

Shortly after the release of the Android version of the app in 2012, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for a whopping $1billion. And by the end of that year, the new management was already causing controversy with changes to its Terms of Service.

At first, Facebook enabled Instagram to sell its users’ photos without notification or compensation. This policy was later retracted due to an overwhelming (and not surprising) consumer backlash. Despite this rocky start, Instagram continued to grow exponentially under the new management through the next years.

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram also influenced the way that the app was designed on a technical and conceptual level. For example, the app began to utilise a storage technology called Cassandra, developed by Facebook.

Another notable change came in March 2016 when the implementation of the Instagram algorithm was published.

History of the Instagram Algorithm

Photo by Markus Spiske

First, the feed was simply organized chronologically by showing the users the newest posts.

However as the company grew, and the popularity of the app skyrocketed, it became harder to keep up with the sheer quantity of content. So Instagram decided to implement an algorithm to help organize that content more effectively.

However, the change did not go well with the users. A lot of people were, to put it lightly, discontent. Even a petition called “Keep Instagram chronological” was put up on Change.org, gaining around 70,000 signatures in only 24 hours. The petition eventually reached 340,000 signatures.

Up to this day, some Instagram users are still unhappy and complain about the algorithm. However, since it was implemented, the users have been more actively engaging with the community, liking and commenting on more photos. 

Because of this success, there are no signs that the chronological order feed is coming back any time soon. That’s why it is important for everybody looking to grow their Instagram presence to know how the algorithm work.

Just click below to read the blog post about the functionalities of the Instagram algorithm!