If you wanted to know why your photo of a pizza didn’t break Instagram last month, the company may have some more insight for you.
In a blog post, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, has laid out more detail about how the ranking algorithm works across the social media app. Attempting to quiet some misconceptions about the ranking system, the CEO said that Instagram doesn’t actually have any single algorithm that is used to rank content across the app. Instead, each different area of the app has its own algorithm that is tuned in different ways based on the feature.
Instagram doesn’t have a singular algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose. We want to make the most of people’s time, and we believe that using technology to personalize everyone’s experience is the best way to do that.
Mosseri says that Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, Search, and other areas all get their own algorithm and ranking system in order to meet the needs of users and suggest the right content in those different places.
Each part of the app – Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, Search and more – uses its own algorithm tailored to how people use it. People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, use Explore to discover new content and creators and be entertained in Reels. We rank things differently in these different parts of the app, and have added features and controls like Close Friends, Favorites and Following so you can further customize your experience.
For example, the Feed uses your activity, information about the post, information about the person who made the post, and your history of interactions to feed the algorithm. Stories, in comparison, uses your viewing history, engagement history, and closeness with the author of the story to determine which gets shown first.
It’s pretty timely for the company to better explain its ranking system, especially since it is rumored to be releasing a Twitter competitor as soon as next month — and we all know how people love to conspiracy theory their way around the Twitter algorithm. That led Elon Musk to actually open-source the recommendation algorithm a couple of months ago. It appears that Instagram took note and is trying to catch up.