Another day, another viral hoax about how social networks operate.
Misinformation has been spreading recently about Instagram’s algorithm, with claims that the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app is restricting the reach of users’ posts to just 7% of their followers.
The claim has prompted Instagram to speak up and debunk it in a series of tweets.
“We’ve noticed an uptick in posts about Instagram limiting the reach of your photos to 7% of your followers, and would love to clear this up,” the company wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.
“We have not made any recent changes to feed ranking, and we never hide posts from people you’re following – if you keep scrolling, you will see them all. Again, your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram.”
In other words: Instagram’s algorithm does try and guess what users want to see, and that means some accounts will be seen by some users more than others. This will be especially pronounced if a user follows hundreds or even thousands of accounts on the service; unless they spend hours scrolling each day, they’re unlikely to see every post every one of the accounts they follow.
But still, Instagram hasn’t placed an artificial limit on the percentage of accounts that will see any given post.
These kind of hoaxes spread regularly, fueled by an apparent lack of clarity among users about how tech companies’ algorithms operate. A similar one concerning Facebook alleges that the company is restricting users’ News Feeds to just 25 or 26 friends unless they copy and paste a chain message “warning” about it.