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Instagram is going to look a little more like Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, in Menlo Park, Calif., in June 2013. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Instagram announced Tuesday that it plans to change the way users' timelines look by ordering posts using an algorithm rather than simply displaying the photos in reverse chronological order.

The company explained the move by saying that it believes that prioritizing some posts over others is best for its users:

You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.
To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

The algorithm it is developing, Instagram said, will weigh posts by looking at users' relationships and at how timely any given post is. The official announcement was light on details, but it's likely that this means that posts from accounts that users frequently comment on or like will have a more prominent place on their feeds.  That would be very similar to the way Instagram's parent company, Facebook, displays its users timelines.

Since Instagram's acquisition in 2012, Facebook has largely left the service to run as it always has, though the companies share similar community guidelines and advertising services.

Facebook, of course, has faced a lot of criticism over the years for the way it's tweaked the central timeline in the pursuit of serving up the most relevant posts for its users. Last year, the company announced new controls that gave users more input into how posts are displayed, such as the option to choose to see posts from certain friends first.

[The real reason all the big social networks have introduced filtered feeds]

It's not clear when Instagram users will see the new change applied to their own accounts. The company didn't give a timeline for when the new algorithm will roll out. The company told The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey that it will begin testing the new orders on less than 10 percent of its users, and hasn't yet decided if users will be able to opt out of the new timeline.