Don’t panic: Instagram isn’t broken

Over the past 24 hours, Instagram subscribers have been in a bit of a frenzy, telling followers to switch on notifications for fear they get lost in an Instagram algorithm change. What’s going on?

There’s good news and there’s bad news, people, but the good-ish news in between both of these is that the bad news is nowhere near as bad as you might think. Confused yet? Let’s do this.

Back in March, Instagram received some negative attention for the idea that it might be changing its system to deliver important updates that you might otherwise miss.

Typically, the photographic social media feed that is Instagram delivers updates to you in a chronological fashion, meaning you get things in a time-based order.

Did your friend just post about the burger they’re eating? There’s a picture of it. A few hours before, another friend took a cute photo of a dog. That’s there underneath it.

Instagram’s potential changes to this include an algorithm that pushes up images that have been liked by many, meaning if that dog photo is so cute or the burger looks so tasty that it becomes the most popular thing in your timeline, in theory it could sit above all posts for the next few days or until you check your Instagram feed next.

That was the idea, anyway, with Instagram telling its users that “We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way” and that users would ” see this new experience in the coming months”.

Fast forward to this weekend when customers started seeing test changes go live and chaos has more or less broken out.

Expecting the changes to go live and seeing some of the feeds change, people with large Instagram followings have taken to the social network to convince its subscribers and followers to switch on notifications for their respective accounts.

Here’s an example of that from a coffee shop we follow:

While the Instagram entry implies what’s going on, that’s not exactly what’s happening, so don’t panic as nothing is broken yet.

More than anything, it feels like Instagram is doing some testing, and that means some feeds may be affected. However, if you switch on notifications for every feed in your list, what will happen is every time they post, you will get a notification, adding to the many you’re probably already receiving.

These will, of course, add up, and that might mean Instagram could become a pest very quickly. We do need to note that Instagram is probably going to bring in changes like the ones it has suggested, but these will happen over time just not right now.

For now, if there are changes, it’s likely you’re seeing part of the testing that Instagram is doing, and for the moment, it’s a relatively temporary situation.

Every social network dabbles in changes here and there, and Facebook (which owns Instagram) tends to bring in changes at least once a year, so we’re not shocked to see Instagram getting a few new features of its own.

Right now, though, there’s no reason to panic, and there’s certainly no reason to switch on notifications for every account in your list, not unless you want notifications all the time. If that’s what you want, go for it, just don’t be surprised if the alerts begin to bug you.