A new test from Instagram may make it harder for you to see recent content in the app. While you can now look up all kinds of recent Instagram posts around a particular hashtag, the test will only show you the posts with the most likes or short videos called “Reels” that are related to the hashtag. The company says this trial will blend “recent and current content” into the two groups, to see how people interact with it.
When they were first introduced to Instagram, hashtags could be a fun way to highlight photo trends, but now they’re primarily a way for users to get more visibility, and therefore more clicks and likes. According to Instagram, the “top posts” tab shows popular posts, while the “recent” tab shows content in the order it was posted, regardless of how many likes it gets.
For a small group, we’ll test more recent and current content on the ‘Top’ and ‘Reels’ tabs in hashtags and remove the ‘Recent’ tab. We want to see if this helps people connect with more interesting and relevant content on hashtags, while also keeping them updated on what’s current. pic.twitter.com/nLb6BiFRws
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) Apr 19, 2022
Social media apps continue to rely on algorithms to show users more diverse (and more marketable) content, despite negative comments from users who prefer their timelines to be in chronological order. With apps like TikTok that suck users and attention away – even become Lake more popular than YouTube for Android users – Instagram has rolled out (or in this case removed) features to try and make Reels a natural alternative to viewing photos.
Finding ways for users to interact with more system-sorted content has also impacted changes on other platforms. Last month, Twitter made it harder to view things in order by defaulting users on an algorithmic timeline, but that change was reversed after a few days.
If and when it is released more widely, it will be interesting to see how this change affects what kind of content users see on Instagram.