What Makes Instagram's 'Recommended' Posts So Awful?

Social feeds are getting cluttered with posts no one asked for, and unfortunately, Instagram is following suit. No one I've spoken to about Instagram's recently announced feature of "recommended" posts from complete strangers appearing in feeds is excited about the change. Admittedly, that group of people is a relatively small sample size, composed largely of other tech journalists. I don't love it. But I can't quite put my finger on why.

On the hierarchy of nuisance posts, I'd put Instagram's recommendations below Twitter's "in case you missed it" notifications (oh my god, please stop) and Facebook's incessant need to tell me when events are being attended by people I've met once or twice, but slightly above promoted posts from advertisers. As far as anyone knows, Instagram won't be pushing notifications about these posts you didn't ask for but also won't provide an option to turn them off.

Part of that may be influenced by how I use Instagram. Unlike Twitter, my Instagram feed is composed almost entirely of close friends. While, in theory, anyone would enthusiastically opt into broadening their social and intellectual horizons, I can't imagine a version of Instagram where the meals, vacations, and observations of people I've known for years is enhanced by content from people I don't know at all. And all in some half-assed attempt to increase the "stickiness" (see: addictive potential) of Instagram to, one assumes, appease advertisers.

Keep in mind, Instagram already had a method for finding new things easily on its explore page, although this change suggests not enough people were using it.

There's also the consideration that this is yet another change straying further from Instagram's original mission. The first, and most personally onerous, was the abandonment of a chronological timeline. Seeing a friend, for instance, at a restaurant I'd been to recently might spur on a text message recommendation for an appetizer. Seeing that same photo three days later does no one any good. (I feel the same way about the 'stories' feature, which exists entirely so Facebook could plagiarize wholesale compete with the success of Snapchat. Feel free to disagree. I hear people like it.)

And then there's the unspoken creepiness. Who are these people whose posts I'm seeing? Did they opt into this new feed scheme? Will my photos, likewise, be visible to people I neither follow nor want to follow?

There are good ways to recommend out-of-network content - Tumblr is a good example - but for my money, this isn't it. Then again, I've been known to be distrustful, pessimistic, and a general crank about most things.

So let's hear from you, dear reader - are you jazzed to see a more diversified Instagram, or is this as obnoxious as I'm making it out to seem? And in either case, why?

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    I’m starting to hate on Instagram as much as I was hating on Facebook in 2016 (before deleting it), mainly because of every 5-6 posts in my feed are now ads, there are ads showing up in the “stories” section as well.

    It’s shitting me to no end.

    I haven’t noticed the “recommended post” thing, yet... can’t wait.

      This is so spot on. And if it's not openly disclosed as an ad or sponsored post, it's flooded with hashtags and tagging brands that makes it almost the same thing.

    Facebook have totally ruined Instagram.

    Since Facebook took over they jumbled the timeline, added suggested people to follow, dropped any standard for advertising which I get as much as every 3-4 pictures.

    Constantly flagging illegal content, scams etc does nothing. 90% of the ads I see are scams and click bait.

    And now their recommended posts.

    There’s barely anything relevant to look at anymore which makes Instagram almost unusable.

    It’s infuriating and I wish they would publicly acknowledge it and start making some fixes to bring the platform to back to something fun to use.

    Completely agree with you and instagram is getting less and less of my attention with every change like this it makes. Kinda counter-productive to piss off your users don't they realise?

    Completely agree. I deleted my Facebook in 2016 as well because it was becoming filled with arbitrary shit I didn't care about. Instagram was great because it was relevant - but the exact same thing is happening. I can't see myself being on it much longer

    Single dumbest thing they have done to instagram was take away the chronological order.
    It even hurts the advertisers its trying to cater the program too. there is no point finding out about a sponsors event 3 days after the thing has even happened.

    At least give us a an option to choose chronological or focused versions.The same would be lovely for recommended posts even though i find them far less of a program breaking "feature" than i do with the timeline order.

    Ive been using instagram since it was created and not once had i used the reccomended section. Glad to see i have not missed anything.

    My Instagram experience is still okay, in fact it has got better. Those horrible suggestions that always appeared at the top of the timeline have disappeared, and I see things in date order. I don't see any advertisements or suggestions thankfully.

    It must be because I only use Instagram at a very basic level, follow 5 accounts (one mine & inactive).

    I have notifications turned off. I've got just about everything turned off. Replies allowed are only from people I follow. I forget about the icons at the top of the page, so I never see any suggestions.

    I don't use it to communicate, just to keep track of any extra photos my 2 nieces might post if they travel.

    I don't use facebook. I do have an account which I check every 3 or 4 months, and it is too convoluted to bother with.

Join the discussion!