I share your concern that the war for our attention is unsustainable and causes unhealthy systemic effects. For some thoughtful insight on this, check Tristan Harris’s work:

That said, the goal of an algorithmic feed is to put the best stuff at the top. This may have the effect of helping Instagram succeed in taking more of your time. However, might it have the opposite effect? After all, you have to scroll through fewer images to see the best ones. You could check less often and each session could be shorter!

Either way, your conclusion that Instagram’s move to algorithmic being driven to maximize monetization is almost certainly not the case. I have no insight into this decision or that company, except to say that’s generally not how product decisions at these type of companies work. There is a team trying to maximize revenue. And there’s a team trying to make the best damn product they can. This, most likely, came from the team trying to create the best damn product they can. Because non-strictly-time-ordered feeds (done well) are better at giving people good stuff.

Whether you want Instagram to work that way or not (and a lot of people don’t want ), it’s true by almost every measure those who make these type of products care about.

It’s rarely as nefarious as you can make it seem from the outside.

CEO of Medium, partner at Obvious Ventures, co-founder of Twitter, curious consumer of ideas

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