Instagram is once again trying to reassure users that its algorithm isn’t actively “hiding” posts from people.
The company issued a rare rebuttal to criticism of its algorithm in response to a viral meme claiming that said algorithm only surfaces posts to 7 percent of an account’s followers.
“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.
“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.”
The tweets are a response to a series of memes claiming most Instagram posts are only seen by around 7 percent of an account’s followers. The exact language of these posts varies, but almost all of them reference “small businesses like ourselves,” and ask followers to like and comment in order to improve their ranking in Instagram’s algorithm.
It’s not clear where this particular meme originated, though it appears to be popular among small business owners who have a vested interest in keeping their engagement up. But the posts have been popular enough that Instagram felt the need to weigh in directly.
It’s not the first time Instagram has publicly explained its algorithm in an effort to assuage users. The company has previously provided in-depth explanations about how its algorithmic feed works, and repeatedly defended its decision to move away from a strictly chronological feed more than two years ago. The app even added a “you’re all caught up” message in an effort to mitigate anxiety about “missing” posts.
But many Instagram users still feel aggrieved by the company’s decision to embrace algorithms and rumors about its feed have persisted. (Spoiler: the chronological feed probably won’t ever come back.)
These latest memes are just the latest example of how quickly rumors and misinformation can go viral on the platform (ironically, these posts are likely given a boost by the very algorithm they claim is hurting them).
That Instagram would have to publicly reassure users it’s not intentionally hiding posts or messing with users’ feeds speaks to just how controversial its feed still is.