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4 steps you can take right now to improve your Instagram feed

Instagram has come under fire for changes to its algorithm.
Jenny Kane
Instagram has come under fire for changes to its algorithm.

From Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen to meme creators and everyday users, many social media consumers seem to be in consensus: Instagram is dying — or perhaps has already died.

Instagram has declared itself to no longer be "just a square photo-sharing app." When the company launched Reels, a vertical video product, in August 2020, it was widely viewed as a transparent attempt to catch up with the wild success of TikTok.

In June 2021, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app's new priorities would be on creators, shopping, messaging, and — most controversially — video. It seems like Instagram's prioritization of video has come back to haunt it, with many users saying they are no longer seeing posts from family and friends.

Multiple celebrities have posted criticisms of the algorithmic changes in the past few days, prompting Mosseri to defend practices like recommendations, which are posts in a user's feed from accounts they do not follow.

If you're one of the many who are tired of suggested content and Reels, here's what you can do to clean up your Instagram feed.

Give input on your algorithm

/ Instagram/Screenshot by NPR
Instagram/Screenshot by NPR

If, say, you're randomly being plagued by fan pages for a show you've never seen or memes about a city you don't live in, you can tell Instagram its algorithm has gotten it wrong.

On your Explore page, you can get rid of a suggested post you don't want to see by tapping the three dots in the top right corner and selecting "not interested."

If you feel like the advertisements being pushed to you don't make sense, you can also give input in ad topics by going to settings — selecting ads, then ad topics and choosing to see less of a certain ad topic.

/ Instagram/Screenshot by NPR
Instagram/Screenshot by NPR

If you're curious what the algorithm knows — or thinks it knows — about you, you can see a list of interests Instagram has determined you have by going to settings, ads, then ad interests.

Snooze suggested posts — temporarily

When you see a recommended post in your feed, tap the three dots in the top right corner and click "not interested." From there, you can choose to snooze all suggested posts in your feed for 30 days.

Once those 30 days are up, you'll have to snooze suggested posts again. It's doubtful that Instagram will add an option to snooze suggested posts permanently, but at least they can be snoozed temporarily.

/ Instagram/Screenshot by NPR
Instagram/Screenshot by NPR

Choose your feed view

By tapping the Instagram logo in the top left corner, you can toggle between two feed settings: following or favorites.

/ Instagram/Screenshot by NPR
Instagram/Screenshot by NPR

Favorites "shows you the latest from accounts that you choose, like your best friends and favorite creators," Instagram says. Following "shows you posts from the people you follow."

You can add up to 50 accounts on your favorites list and use the favorites view to see only posts from those accounts. Accounts on your favorites list will also show up higher in your feed, making you less likely to miss a post from a friend.

Do an account purge

Instead of scrolling past that one account you don't remember why you followed in the first place, take the extra step to unfollow it.

Go through your following list and unfollow the accounts that post too much, or that you don't actually want to see. In your following tab, Instagram makes it easy to see the accounts you interact with the least and the accounts most shown in your feed — both good places to start a cleanout.

By following fewer accounts overall, you're more likely to see the content you actually want.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deanna Schwartz
Deanna Schwartz is the summer 2022 Digital Platforms and Curation Intern at NPR. She has previously worked for the Boston Globe and GBH News.