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Instagram to optimize user feeds, show posts out of chronological order

Photo sharing service Instagram on Tuesday announced plans to apply an optimization algorithm to user feeds that, much like the system used by parent company Facebook, reorders posts based on a variety of performance metrics.

The change is being positioned as a solution for cluttered timelines, a problem many users face as their social network expands to hundreds or thousands of people.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram, like other social media platforms, has presented user content in a chronological timeline, meaning the most recent posts show up at the top of the feed. However, the service's user base has grown to a point where people miss an average of 70 percent of content on their feeds, not ideal for keeping abreast of the latest goings on. It's also not a good position for Instagram's advertising efforts.

Instagram has not revealed how, exactly, it plans to optimize user feeds, saying only that the order of photos and videos will be base on "the likelihood you'll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post." The New York Times reported that the process relies in part on machine learning, though it remains unclear what metrics are being computed.

The company said it will initially focus on order optimization, meaning once optimizations roll out, users will see posts deemed most relevant float to the top of their timelines. Instagram points out that all posts will carry the usual timestamp, and that users are welcome to leave feedback as the program progresses.