Even though owned by Facebook, Instagram has become the new home to many gun pages after Facebook started to massively throttle any posts with keywords related to firearms. Instagram, on the other hand, delivered every post to every follower in a newsfeed ordered chronologically. This meant that anytime you opened your Instagram feed, you knew that once you hit a post you had seen before, you had seen all of the new posts to your feed. Not anymore.
In June, Instagram completed its rollout of an algorithmic timeline, primarily ordered by how popular a post was rather than when it was posted. As many have found, this means that you end up seeing some of the same posts over and over as you scroll to find new content that you want to view. It is now impossible to know when you’ve finally read every new post, so most people don’t even try anymore.
For example, the first post in my Instgram feed this morning was from Vanquest Tough Built Gear. Though Vanquest is very much a pro-Second Amendment company, they manufacture backpacks, IFAKs and the like. Their post was 17 hours old, yet it was the top post on a feed that consists mainly of gun manufacturers.
27 posts and 3 advertisements below was a post only 2 hours old from Elzetta, makers of some of the toughest flashlights in the world. Though they do not make weapons, they do make weapon mounts and post photos of firearms quite frequently. They also have a relatively modest following on Instagram, though they post content I enjoy seeing every time.
Another 10 posts and 1 advertisement below that was a post from RECOIL magazine, who are what I like to call “the National Geographic of guns.” They have a massive following on Instagram, yet their 6 hour old post was placed below dozens of posts much older even though it clearly had a much larger engagement with followers.
Instagram’s claim is that this will ensure you see the content most important to you, but what it really means is that businesses will have to buy advertising in order to appear at the top of their own followers’ newsfeeds. This presents a huge problem for gun pages- ads having anything to do with weapons are banned from Instagram, so there is no way for gun pages to ensure their posts are being seen by their followers.
Also, it is clear there is more to the algorithm than a straight “engagement” score. How else would RECOIL’s post be so far down on my newsfeed even though it has massive engagement and Vanquest’s post be at the top even though it’s a much smaller page? How long before Facebook implements the same keyword scoring at Instagram that they use to determine whether or not you will get to see a post from a gun page? Are they already doing it?
It’s hard to say, but clearly, our work in the gun community has gotten harder whether you’re a business page or a follower.
To read more about Instagram’s new algorithm and what other industries think of it, check out the article on TechCrunch at https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/13/instagrams-algorithmic-feed-is-the-worst-thing-to-happen-to-me-all-summer/.