As if we don't already spend enough time glued to our smartphones, scrolling endlessly through social media, Instagram has hatched a way to force us into spending even more screen time on its addicting app.
Usually, as you scroll along, your friends' posts show up one after another on your feed for you to catch up to what everyone's been up to, without interruptions (except the odd ad, of course).
Once you've seen everything your followed peeps have posted (usually a difficult achievement), you arrive at the "You're All Caught Up" checkpoint, and the grey area known as "suggested posts"—things which Instagram thinks you'll like, but it's your decision whether to keep scrolling or not.
In a new change that's already entered a public testing phase, Instagram plans to outsmart you to make it take even longer to catch up with your friends. Rather than keeping suggested posts at the bottom of the feed, after your familiar posts, the platform will begin mixing them up into your regular feed.
Users will still have a wee bit of customization power by choosing their preferred themes of the suggested posts, which they'll be seeing lots more of in the future. You will always be able to change your "interests" over time, when you start getting sick of seeing the same suggestions over and over.
Likely realizing that this is bound to annoy some people, Instagram is also adding a "Snooze" button which lets you stop seeing these suggested posts in your feed for 30 days. They probably figure that by then, people may have forgotten about it and fail to notice the random suggestions creeping back in—resulting in more screen time for you, and more dollar signs in ad monetization for them.
Considering that most people follow hundreds, if not thousands of Instagram accounts, we imagine the change will not go over too well, as people can barely manage to catch up to their regularly followed accounts as it is. As of yet, there is no way to stop the feed from mixing permanently, or for any more than 30 days.
Instagram representatives are referring to the update as an "extension" of the Feed, according to a report by TechCrunch
. They've further said that "the ratio of these algorithmic recommendations to posts from followed accounts will be variable based on how someone uses the app."
Over the next few days, Instagram's "feed extension" will be available in select English-speaking countries, although nobody knows exactly how extensive or how long this test phase will be.