Instagram reveals the 4 things it watches most closely to determine everything you see on the app

woman texting on smart phone using cell
  • Instagram says it looks at how often you interact with users to determine what content to surface.
  • The company revealed other factors in a blog post designed to tell users how Instagram works.
  • Instagram and other social media platforms use algorithms to keep you scrolling on their sites.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Instagram revealed on Tuesday how it decides what content, like posts and stories, to show you.

The company published a blog post detailing the four most important “signals” out of thousands from you that it considers when determining what you see in the Feed and in Stories.

Instagram says it:

  • Looks at your history of interacting with someone, like commenting on their content, to see if you’d find their post interesting
  • Uses information about how popular a post is, like how many likes it has, and where it was taken to help determine if it pushes it toward you
  • Uses information about the person who posted it and how interesting they might seem to you
  • Uses information about the kind of content you view to decide if a post might be interesting to you

Instagram also says it uses five interactions to dictate what you see. In Instagram’s Feed, those interactions are how likely you are to spend a few seconds looking at a post, comment on it, like or save it, and tap on the profile photo of its author.

The platform then makes “educated guesses” using this data to decide what to show you first.

Instagram wrote its Tuesday blog post to “shed more light on how Instagram’s technology works and how it impacts the experiences that people have across the app,” and the company said more posts will follow. This first post was designed to answer questions like “How does Instagram decide what shows up for me first?”

Instagram also clarified that it doesn’t just use a single algorithm to study your behavior online – it uses ” a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.” The company says it ranks content differently in Stories, Feed, and Explore, such as tailoring content from your closest friends to you in Stories.

Instagram and other social media platforms have faced scrutiny over what critics called their addictive algorithms designed to keep you scrolling – and keep advertising dollars rolling in.

Studies have shown links between social media and depression, as well as feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Experts recommend limiting the use of online platforms and being mindful of who you interact with on the apps.