Nearly half of what you see in your feed comes from accounts you don’t follow

You may have noticed something strange if you've been spending time on Instagram lately (PA Archive)

You may have noticed something strange if you’ve been spending time on Instagram lately (PA Archive)

The raft of Instagram posts from people you don’t follow clogging up your feed is no coincidence.

Despite users actively resisting its push to show more posts recommended by its algorithm, Instagram appears to be doubling down on suggested content.

In fact, 40% of the information people now see as they scroll through Instagram doesn’t come from their friends or the celebrities they actively follow. Instead, these posts are picked by Instagram’s AI-powered algorithm from people, groups, or accounts it thinks you’ll like.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the illuminating statistic during the social media giant’s first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, April 26.

“Along with content surfacing from friends and family, now more than 20% of the content in your Facebook and Instagram feeds is AI-recommended from… accounts you don’t follow,” he said. “In all of Instagram, that’s about 40% of the content you see.”

Like it or not, suggested posts are here to stay as they provide fodder for Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels. Since the video feature launched in 2020, recommendations from AI have driven a 24% increase in the amount of time people spend on Instagram, Zuckerberg said.

Instagram says its AI-powered Reels led to a 24% increase in watch time on the app (Instagram)

Instagram says its AI-powered Reels led to a 24% increase in watch time on the app (Instagram)

This is despite the torrent of recommendations being partly responsible for the user backlash this past July. Instagram was later forced to stop testing a full-screen version of the app after a petition for “doing Instagram Instagram again,” and not trying to mimic TikTok, has gained traction.

At the time, Instagram’s response made it seem like recommended posts were a necessary evil, as they compensated for any lack of activity from friends and family. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri noticed that regular people mostly used the app to share stories and message each other.

Therefore, the company clearly feels that it needs to fill this void with the content of prolific posters, including influencers and celebrities.

Instagram’s AI selects these post types based on your activity, including who you follow and posts you’ve engaged with; your connection history with an account or similar accounts; and how popular the post is among others, including the number of times people have engaged with it in the last few weeks.

The shift to more AI-driven content is part of a larger trend in social media. In January, Elon Musk launched a new default Twitter homepage featuring tweets from people you don’t follow. While TikTok’s addictive “For You” feed starts offering you videos to scroll through as soon as you join, whether you’re following others or not.

However, not all major platforms are keen on pushing suggested posts to users. Reddit, for example, lets you disable recommendations from your home feed.

How to turn off suggested posts on Instagram

By comparison, Instagram only lets you temporarily pause recommended posts for 30 days.

While you can’t abandon suggested content altogether, you can improve on the kinds of things you want Do see using filters and blocks.

First, you can start by hiding a suggested post by tapping the “X” icon above it or by tapping the more options icon and selecting “not interested.”

The latter will allow you to further manage the types of posts that are shown to you. Here you can choose to enter keywords to stop certain types of suggested posts, or block these posts for 30 days by tapping the clock icon.

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