Despite a huge surge in backlash from the Instagram user community Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call that he expects AI-recommended content to make up more than 30% of the Instagram feed next year.
Many users have begun to notice that the app, which originally had a focus on sharing posts with friends and family, is making a turn. Zuckerberg explained that social feeds across the company’s apps would shift from being driven “primarily by people and accounts you follow” to increasingly also being driven by content recommended by AI, even if you’re not following the account.
This change has caused an uproar among the largest of internet personalities. The “Make Instagram Instagram Again” movement, backed by the likes of the Jenners and Kardashians, has been making waves across the platform. Despite people using the hashtag #makeinstagraminstagramagain and letting their opinions be heard, Zuckerberg is seemingly unmoved on the matter.
Current Amount of AI-Recommended Content You Consume
Currently, your Instagram feed is made up of 15% AI-promoted content, despite it feeling like much more. The Meta CEO expects this to double for users of Facebook and Instagram. Leaving social feeds to be made up of around 30% AI-promoted content, or more!
You likely would’ve noticed the unexpected invasion of Reels to your feed. Generally, this hasn’t been a welcomed change for most users, with many criticising them for being random and often being reposts of popular TikToks.
Why Instagram is Pushing Reels
Meta recently announced its first-ever revenue decline in a decade operating as a public company, losing 1% in revenue and 36% in profit year over year. The booming success of TikTok is likely a factor behind this, and Meta is terrified. The transfer of users to TikTok is an enormous threat to Meta as they’ve seen a huge drop in digital advertisements across their platforms. What’s worse is that Zuckerberg expects this poor performance to carry into the current quarter.
TikTok gives users constant entertainment from the quick, easy-to-consume 6-second to 3-minute videos. With no need to search for content, users can simply open the app and start enjoying random content they didn’t even know they wanted to view!
The introduction of AI-recommended Reels was a direct attempt to bring some people back, and was essentially a TikTok clone! Meta could see this as a statistical success as they saw a more than 30% increase in the time that users spent engaging with Reels on Instagram and Facebook. Meta put the increase down to the effectiveness of their AI recommendation models.
“As our AI finds additional content that people find interesting, it increases engagement and the quality of our feeds. Since we’re already efficient at monetising most of these formats, this should increase our business opportunity over that period as well,” he said.
Despite the increase, people have not taken well to the change. In fact, it has drawn many people away from the appeal of Instagram and what it once was. However, this figure looks great to shareholders, who Meta knows they need to keep happy.
The Problem With AI-Recommended Content
The ‘Old Instagram’ pretty much gave you free rein to curate your feed to view the content you actually wanted to see. People saw Instagram and Facebook as a way to see what their friends and family are up to. If they wanted to purely consume random content then they’d go to TikTok.
What makes things even worse is that the content that’s recommended is typically ads and old TikTok trends that have lost their buzz. Trends that you would’ve already seen ‘in their prime’ if you were using TikTok. This isn’t necessarily people’s biggest strife; it’s the fact the content they follow and actually want to see is buried in a sea of these sorts of posts! So they are switching off!
How to Get Recommended Reels Off Your Feed
Unfortunately, there aren’t loads you can do to change things. Zuckerberg needs to show shareholders that there’s still a financial appeal, even if that means having to make Instagram less desirable to the consumer.
There is a feature that is working as of 17/08/22 that allows your feed to only display the content from accounts you’re following. If you go to your home page and click the Instagram logo in the top left, a menu will appear. From this, you can then select ‘following’, and it will refine your feed and show posts from the accounts you want to see.
Woefully, this isn’t a permanent fix so you’ll need to select this option every time you open the app. We also wouldn’t be surprised if this feature is removed at some point in the future…