Instagram this week announced several changes to its platform aimed at empowering creators. Most notably, the company changed its ranking algorithm to highlight original content above re-shared content.
Boss of instagram Adam Mosseri mentioned the following regarding the change in classification:
“If you create something from scratch, you should get more credit than if you share something you found from someone else. We’re going to do more to try to give more value to original content, by particular with respect to the republished content.
In other words, you should probably stop sharing other people’s TikTok and Twitter posts and come up with your own ideas, thank you very much.
📣 New Features 📣
We’ve added new ways to tag and improved ranking:
– Product labels
– Improved tags
– Ranking of originality
Creators are so important to the future of Instagram, and we want to make sure they succeed and get all the credit they deserve. pic.twitter.com/PP7Qa10oJr
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) April 20, 2022
The company has already taken steps to mitigate sharing. In 2021, the algorithm started downgrading reshared reels with the TikTok logo. Like my colleague Ivan wrote at the time, it was an unfair decision for creators who might not want to recreate the same content for different social media platforms. It was also an ironic decision given that Reels himself is largely a TikTok clone.
Still, today’s announcement is probably the best, considering how many Instagram accounts are leveraging the work of others, often without credit.
That said, it was unclear from Mosseri’s post whether the new algorithm adjustment would further affect creators who simply share their own content from other platforms. We’ve reached out to Instagram for clarification and will update this post if we get back to you.
Originality aside, the next of today’s updates includes the ability for Instagrammers to label specific products in their posts. Although product tags have been available to businesses for ages, the feature is now becoming widely available.
Creators won’t get paid for ads, but beacons could help brands they care about gain traction. You can read more about the feature on Instagram post here.
Finally, Instagram is rolling out improved people tags. This allows you to define a descriptive tag for yourself – for example, “photographer”, “rapper” and “fashion designer” – which appears next to your nickname in image tags. These tags can be set in your Instagram profile settings.
These changes reflect an Instagram that has shifted away from being a social network for photos of food and pets, to becoming a platform for capital-C content.
Reels had incredible success for the platform, but this victory was somewhat superficial. As reported by Recode in March, an analysis of the Integrity Institute earlier this year showed that many of the most popular reels (as well as the most popular posts on Facebook) were largely published by accounts that simply reshare content:
“The most common use of non-original content is to recycle memes, jokes or questions that had previously gone viral on other platforms. We found that content originally produced for Twitter, Reddit, Quora and YouTube was reposted on Facebook and gained a very wide spread.
In Q4, we get our first look at the Instagram Reels ecosystem and how often non-original content is there. Overall, non-original content in Instagram Reels appears to be about as prevalent as across Facebook overall, so there’s been no significant change from Q3 to Q4.
The decision to reduce reshared content might hurt some accounts at first, but it’s likely crucial to the future of Reels. If Meta wants its social networks to thrive in the long term, they must be more than a place for redistributing content from its competitors. But it will always be a challenge when so many of Instagram’s and Facebook’s best features are simply copies of its competitors.