Instagram users have long been complaining about the app's transition to a non-chronological newsfeed. In this setup, instead of seeing posts based on the time they were uploaded, a user's newsfeed is arranged, or "curated," rather, based on a number of factors fed into an algorithm.
This new update isn't going to change that, but it might help just a tiny bit. Moving forward, Instagram will be showing users a mid-feed alert, after they've browsed for a considerable amount of time, informing them that "You're All Caught Up — You've seen all new post from the past 48 hours." While it's not an ideal solution to those who'd rather have a chronological feed, it can at least let users know when they've seen everything there is to see.
Instagram Testing Mid-Feed Alert Feature
Instagram is presently testing this feature, as TechCrunch reports. Some details remain unclear, including how the feature works, or if the mid-feed alert means the user has seen literally everything that was posted in the last two days, or just the best ones the algorithm has selected to show.
There's been heavy backlash against Instagram's new algorithm, which was rolled out in 2016. Before this was implemented, users could easily scroll to the last post they'd seen and continue seeing a chronologically arranged newsfeed. But now, people often miss content they want to see because the algorithm can sometimes mess up the feed. The new You're All Caught Up feature may quiet some of this backlash, though it's a palliative solution at best. Unless Instagram brings the old newsfeed algorithm back, complains will keep coming.
Time Well Spent
Perhaps the most important implication of this feature is that Facebook appears to be serious with its "time well spent" movement, wherein it encourages users to be more mindful of their social media usage. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about prioritizing well-being over profits, to the point where the site reduced the amount of viral videos, which then led to Facebook losing 1 million users between the United States and Canada in the fourth quarter of 2017.
"Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits," Zuckerberg said in February.
Yet Instagram has been tight-lipped on such changes until last week, when it was reported that the app was preparing for a "Usage Insights" feature that tracks how much time a user has spent browsing the app. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom later confirmed the feature is indeed real, saying that it's important to understand how time online impacts people.
"I take that responsibility seriously."