Instagram announced that it brought back the option to sort posts in reverse chronological order rather than ranked according to its algorithms. But the company said it is still retaining the algorithm ranking method by default. The new option is set to roll out to users globally on Wednesday.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri first hinted at the new feature during a Senate hearing last year about the impact the platform has on its young users. The move appeared to address concerns over how algorithms sometimes push younger users into harmful rabbit holes that can impact their mental health.
On Wednesday, Instagram said that users will be able to switch the manners in which posts are displayed on their feed. The Following tool, most familiar to those who used social media before algorithmic feeds were introduced, highlights posts from the people the user follows in the order the posts were shared.
The other option, a Favorites feature, will show the latest posts from a list of specific accounts, such as closest friends and favorite creators. A user can add up to 50 favorites, and posts from these accounts will show up higher in their home feeds.
“We’re always working on new ways for people to have more control over their experience on Instagram, and giving you ways to quickly see what you’re most interested in is one example of those efforts,” a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Instagram, told CNN Business.
As with its corporate sibling Facebook, which also offers a reverse chronological option, users will have to opt into the feature if they want it.
“We know from research that people have a better experience on Instagram with a ranked feed, so we won’t be defaulting people into a chronological feed,” the company said in a statement. (Instagram removed the reverse chronological feed in 2016.)
This announcement comes nearly six months after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal documents, including some that showed the company was aware of how Instagram can damage mental health and body image, particularly among teenage girls. US lawmakers questioned executives from Facebook and Instagram over this, halting Instagram’s plans to release a version of Instagram for kids under age 13.
Instagram has since rolled out a handful of safeguards aimed at protecting its young users, including a tool called Take a Break, which it claims will encourage people to spend some time away from the platform after scrolling for a certain period. It also said it would take a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teenagers and actively nudge them toward different topics, such as architecture and travel destinations.
Earlier this month, Instagram introduced a new educational hub for parents and a tool that allows them to see how much time their kids spend on Instagram and set time limits.