I just want to…

Instagram announced new updates to their algorithm again. I have a couple of accounts on Instagram, so I suppose I have some skin in the game.

It’s just mostly I consume. I don’t use Instagram professionally; and I don’t want to. I use it to a) share some photos and art with my friends and b) see what they share with me.

This type of user doesn’t matter. I mean, what I would like is to see the accounts I follow in reverse chronological order. But Meta have not wanted to give me this for years. Lately they have been giving me insane quantities of sponsored posts both in Stories and in the main feed.

There was a time I loved the idea of recommender systems. The idea is that the recommend accounts, posts, whatever, that I would really be interested in. But this isn’t really happening. When every second sponsored post is from Temu….is this really that personalised? I don’t think so.

From what I can see, recommender systems have moved from being what is most interesting for me to what is most interesting to the social media provider, mostly Meta in this case.

I’d like to say that somewhere, the tech giants have lost their way; but I think they haven’t. I think that everything they do is specifically so they can fleece money out of somewhere, be it me or an advertiser. Just for a short while, their interests and mine as a media consumer aligned.

Now though, most of the time I spend scrolling Instagram is time spent frustrated. My main objective is to look at excellent photography and drawing/painting which I find interesting. I’ve a special interest in water colour and travel photography and these form the bulk of what I post myself. Some time ago, I wound up seeing more short videos rather than single shots. I’m really not interested in moving photographs – if I was, I’d go to actual travel documentaries on Youtube (which I do) – and what the artists did to deal with this was start making reels which are close ups of fineliners moving around a centimetre, dabs of paint so detailed I get a headache trying to process them visually. All of this sucks to high hell as a consumer; and I can’t imagine it suits the average illustrator either.

I understand the problem is that the likes of Meta can’t make a huge amount of money out of delivering what I want. I’m not someone they can get to pay them for business services. I’m not going to pay 35E a month for services getting my posts in front of more eyes. I’m not buying stuff from their advertisers. But their ability to offer their professional users access to attention depends on a critical mass of people like me.

I recognise companies need to make money to survive. But the social media companies do not have a guaranteed right to my attention and lately, Instagram are heavily wasting it. I feel sorry for those who use it as a business platform. I’m not interested in the latest lot of algorithmic changes because again, it focuses not on me deciding what accounts I want to see = it focuses on them deciding what accounts they will promote to my timeline. And if god forbid on mobile I want to switch to the accounts I follow, well then I still can’t set that as a default.