Instagram has begun showing postings for users you don’t follow when you’re all caught up on posts from those you do follow. The decision is not without controversy, however.
Starting this week, users are seeing a new “Suggested Posts” section filled with content similar to those they already follow. The section doesn’t appear until you’ve scrolled past everything shared from people you follow and you have seen the “You’re All Caught Up” screen.
Though brands, marketers, and publishers may be excited about Instagram introducing organic related content into users’ feeds for the first time ever, the user base has largely been critical of the decision.
What Are Instagram Suggested Posts
Once users have scrolled to the “You’re Caught Up Screen” they are now seeing an option to “View Older Posts”. If selected or the user continues to scroll, they will be shown an infinite feed of suggested posts.
Aside from the banner showing that you are viewing older posts, there is no indication that the content is being automatically selected based on your past browsing behavior.
One complaint many have had is that Instagram already has a dedicated “Explore” section for finding posts and accounts you might be interested in. However, the actual content in these sections differs.
The Difference Between Instagram Suggested Posts and Explore
Though they share some similarities, Suggested Posts are distinct from the Explore section in some key ways.
Primarily, Instagram intends for Suggested Posts to be a curated collection of content based on your interests and activity. On the other hand, the Explore section is intended to be an extension of the search function on the platform, allowing you to explore broad topics and interests.
As Instagram explains in a help center article, the content highlighted in the Suggested Posts section is largely defined by your own behavior:
“These suggestions are based on posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.”
You can also flag posts if they are particularly not of interest to help better refine the content shown to you in the future. To do this, just tap the three-dot icon at the top of the post and select the “Not interested” option.
Another distinction is that Suggested Posts will exclusively feature photos and videos, with no IGTV or Reels content allowed.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the explore section will also include promoted posts and other types of ads.
Why The Decision is Controversial
Complaints about the decision have largely been focused on three issues:
- Users are not accustomed to seeing content they didn’t sign up for in their primary feed.
- Creating an infinite scrolling feed could encourage users to spend excessive amounts of time on the platform.
- The infinite feed makes Instagram too similar to TikTok.
The first complaint is to be expected. Any time a social network has introduced organic content from outside your friends list or follows, users have revolted – whether we are looking at Facebook’s feed or going all the way back to MySpace.
To get an idea how users feel about the decision, just look at some tweets from users over the past few days:
Still, it is possible the feature may gain acceptance as users get accustomed to it. Only time will tell.
As for the second complaint, director of product for Instagram, Robby Stein, attempted to address the issue upfront:
“Our goal is to make it clear when you’re all caught up so you can decide how you want to best use your time.
We see people continuing to seek out more posts they’re interested in after catching up with their feeds, so we wanted to learn from that and make it easier to go a little deeper for those who choose to do so.”
Lastly, concerns about Instagram looking a little too much like TikTok may prove to be shrewd positioning on the part of the platform. TikTok is currently facing a ban from operating in the United States unless the owning company ByteDance sells operations in the country.
As the 45-day deadline grows closer, little progress seems to be happening which raises the distinct possibility that users may soon be looking for an alternative.
With this and a few other recent moves, it is clear Instagram is hoping to be that replacement.