Instagram Chief Explains How Reels And Photos Are Ranked

Instagram head, Adam Mosseri, has revealed new details about Instagram ranking, stating his intention to “do a better job” of explaining how Instagram works.

Popular social media platforms—including Instagram—are infamous for withholding information surrounding ranking algorithms from users. As a result, terms like ‘shadowbanning’ and other misconceptions have gained traction lately. To address these rumors, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, has revealed new details about Instagram ranking in a blog post, stating his intention to “do a better job” of explaining how Instagram works.

In the blog post, Mosseri emphasized that “Instagram doesn’t have a singular algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app.” Instead, the platform uses a set of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each serving a specific purpose. Notably, every component of the Instagram app—such as Feed, Stories, Explore, Reels, and Search, has its own unique algorithm for ranking posts.

How Instagram Ranks Feed, Explore, Reels, and Stories:

Mosseri provided insights into how Instagram ranks content in different sections of the app. For the Feed, the platform considers metrics like a user’s recent posts from accounts they follow and accounts that may interest them. Additionally, Instagram takes into account users’ preferences regarding photos or videos by leveraging internal ‘signals’ to show more of the content type they engage with.

Regarding Stories, Instagram considers factors such as the user’s connection or ‘closeness’ with the person sharing the story—taking into account relationships like friends and family. In the Explore tab, the algorithm focuses on “past activity such as posts you’ve liked, saved, shared and commented on in the past,” and mostly accounts that a users doesn’t already follow are shown.

Reels play a significant role in the app—especially since Instagram replaced TikTok as the leading platform for short-format vertical videos in India. To rank reels, the algorithm looks “at things like which reels you’ve liked, saved, reshared, commented on, and engaged with recently.” Moreover, it also considers ‘popularity signals’ such as number of followers or level of engagement.

What is ‘shadowbanning?’

Mosseri says that currently, there is no clear definition of what shadowbanning is—but it has become more of a buzzword used by creators when they believe their posts are not reaching the right audience or any audience at all. As a result, they attribute this to the algorithm shadowbanning them—without any indication.

To clarify the situation, Mosseri claims that despite the misinformation circulating on the internet—it is in Instagram’s best interest as a business to ensure that creators can reach their audiences and be discovered—allowing them to grow and thrive on the platform. Simply put, the more creators make content, the more business Instagram generates.

Moreover, Instagram does not follow a pay-to-win model by resorting to ads to increase reach. Mosseri states, “We don’t suppress content to encourage people to buy ads.”

Furthermore, Mosseri emphasizes that if something makes a user’s content less visible, they deserve to know the reason and should have the ability to appeal -and that’s why features like Account Status exist—which helps users understand why their account’s content may not be eligible for recommendation. It also allows users to delete any content that affects their account and appeal the decision if they believe a mistake has been made.

In addition, Instagram is developing new ways to notify creators when the reach of their Reel may be limited due to a watermark.

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