Instagram’s Adam Mosseri Expands on How the Algorithm Works

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri peeled back the curtain on how the platform’s algorithm works during an  IGTV video on Wednesday, giving insight into how Instagram ranks content to create personalized experiences for users on their feed, Explore and Reels tabs.

“It always starts with, first let’s see what is available — for feed and stories, let’s say, once you open up Instagram, we look at all stories you haven’t seen by people you follow, and try to assess how interested you might be in each and every one,” Mosseri said in the video posted to his account. “The second step is to collect all the information we have about the stories, about the people who posted those stories, about you, what you seem to be interested in in the past and we use that to assess or create a score for each one that is supposed to represent how interested you are in each and every one of those posts.”

The algorithm takes into consideration “information about the post, your history of interactions with the author, information about your activities and information about the person who posted it in the first place.” Proxies then predict how likely you are to engage with a post or tap on the user’s profile in order to determine what shows up in your feed.

Mosseri also gave additional insight into the ranking of Explore and Reels content, what shadowbanning is and how users can influence their experience on Instagram. On shadowbanning, a term used to describe when a user’s posts appear to reach a smaller audience, Mosseri said that the platform “cannot guarantee you’ll always reach the same number of people as too much changes in the world.”

“What we can do is make less mistakes and push harder to fix those mistakes more quickly,” he added. “We can be more transparent about how our systems work in general, and we can try to do more in the product so people know why something might be taken down when it is taken down.”

Instagram first discussed the intricacies of its algorithm earlier this month, and as part of an ongoing effort to be transparent with its audience, Mosseri will be conducting weekly Q&A sessions on his stories about ranking and content curation.

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