Instagram showed people too many videos last year, admits Adam Mosseri

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After going full throttle on Reels in 2022, Instagram is working on a better balance for users who still enjoy seeing photos on the platform.

Even Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, now believes that the platform put a lopsided emphasis on videos and Reels last year — and traditional photo posts were worse off because of it. In one of the answers from his weekly Q&A with users today, he acknowledged, “I think we were overfocused on video in 2022 and pushed ranking too far and basically showed too many videos and not enough photos.” Mosseri said that Instagram has since worked behind the scenes to restore a more even balance, and internal metrics show that it’s working.

“Things like how often someone likes photos versus videos and how often someone comments on photos versus videos are roughly equal, which is a good sign that things are balanced,” he said. “To the degree that there is more video on Instagram over time, it’s going to be because that’s what’s driving overall engagement more. But photos are always going to be an important part of what we do.”

He was answering a question about photographers “losing faith” in Instagram as a platform for showcasing their work. This is a sentiment that has lingered ever since Instagram began testing a TikTok-style app redesign last year with a full-screen video experience. The experiment did not go over well, leading Instagram to abandon the major overhaul. But the video push continued; in July, the company unified all videos on the platform as Reels. And as Mosseri himself now admits, they’ve clearly been favored in the ranking algorithms of the feed and Explore page. Instagram’s chief has, at times, caused some of the pushback himself, previously claiming that the platform is “no longer a square photo sharing app” — a declaration that some photographers didn’t take well. He meant to convey that Instagram’s other efforts like Stories, Reels, and direct messages have grown hugely popular alongside photos, but it didn’t help.

Since Mosseri made today’s comments in a Story that will expire within 24 hours, here’s a transcription:

We definitely have a number of photographers who have been upset. I want to be clear: though we are leaning into video, we still value photos. Photos will always be a part of Instagram.

I think we were overfocused on video in 2022 and pushed ranking too far and basically showed too many videos and not enough photos. We’ve since balanced, so things like how often someone likes photos versus videos and how often someone comments on photos versus videos are roughly equal, which is a good sign that things are balanced. And so, to the degree that there is more video on Instagram over time, it’s going to be because that’s what’s driving overall engagement more.

But photos are always going to be an important part of what we do. And there are always going to be people who love and are interested in finding photos on Instagram and elsewhere. And I want to make sure that we’re very clear about that.

During the Q&A, he also addressed spam on Instagram, which remains an ever-present nuisance. “We definitely have spam and bots on Instagram. We’re doing our best to reduce it. I’m particularly worried about comments right now; it’s something that we’re actually actively looking into and hope to improve over the course of the year.” I’ve noticed an uptick in spam and bot accounts liking my Stories, which, at least for me, is more annoying than bogus comments.

Earlier this week, Instagram announced new features including Quiet Mode and the ability to mark multiple posts on the Explore page that you’re not interested in; the latter should help tune and improve recommendations that you see. Even if you don’t take that step, it sounds like you’ll notice a more even split between videos and photo posts on the platform moving forward.

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