When Change Isn’t Welcomed: Backlash to the Algorithm

As human beings, we hate the idea of change. We intrinsically resist it. Change is often imposed upon us, therefore, we don’t have time to process it or understand the benefits of the change. It takes us out of our comfort zone. The question comes to mind, “Why fix something that’s not broken?”

Lately, social media changes have caused a ton of backlash online. You may have noticed hashtags #RIPTwitter or #RIPInstagram trending on the web. What changes are causing so many users to turn against their favorite platforms? One word: algorithms.

A change in the algorithm of any social network will change the way you see your Twitter and Instagram feeds. Instead of showing tweets or pictures in chronological order, new algorithms will show posts that are based on what the algorithm deems relevant to the user. This potentially means that users will miss out on some of their favorite content when scrolling through their timeline. With over millions of users happy with their social media platforms, why make the change now?


In the beginning, Instagram was one of the few social networks that showed posts only in chronological order. What you saw on your feed was what was happening now, hence the “Insta” in Instagram. However, Instagram just announced that it will start testing a new algorithm that will decide what posts we see first, instead of showing posts in their usual chronological order. What you see first may be determined by your interaction history with a user, the time of day, and the popularity of the post. Instagram reported that users miss about 70% of the posts in their feeds. The idea of the algorithm is that you are no longer going to miss any of the posts you really want to see, making the social network more beneficial to the user.

Instagram users are not too happy with the feed change. Users do not love the fact that they are no longer in control of the order in which they are shown posts. This isn’t the first time users have protested a platform’s change. Back in 2009, Facebook saw backlash for its algorithmic transformation of its news feed – one of the many changes that has annoyed users over the years. Recently, Twitter has also encountered backlash for its own attempts to change its timeline feed with a new algorithm. If you’ve seen Instagram users posting #RipInstagram, you have definitely seen #RIPTwitter trending on Twitter and all over the web.


Before celebrating its 10th birthday, Twitter announced they would be changing their signature feed with a new algorithm. The algorithm would display tweets based on relevancy at the top of users’ feeds instead of chronologically. No longer would they be connecting the world to important news and life updates in real-time. To say the Twitter community was outraged is an understatement. As a reaction to this announcement,  #RIPTwitter was one of the top trending topics on the social network itself and user growth came to a screeching halt. The Twitter community believed the social network to be doomed with all of its unwanted changes.

The algorithm actually turned out to not be as awful as everyone had feared. Right now the feed change is actually optional. No one will be able to see the new features until they activate it in their settings – at least for now. Although outrage died down, users were still skeptical. In turn, Twitter began to rethink its changes in order to regain users and get back to the top. After discussing their options, Twitter may decide to get rid of the new feed option all together.

What Happens Next?

Why do social networks feel like they have to change? Could it be because they feel pressured to seem different from the rest, or are they looking for the next feature to build up their stock? New features could be solely intended to fulfill investors’ desires for growth, or simply as a way to appeal to new users. Either way, users are not happy. With each change users feel as if they are being unheard, which is a huge problem. The most important thing users want is to not be ignored. They want the company to take their opinion into consideration and work on the problem. If no progress is seen, users could become increasingly angry and continue to put the social network in a bad light. How long can social networks push their new features on users before they decide to ditch the platform altogether?

Will the Changes Stop?

In reality, social media companies are not going to stop making changes, no matter how many people protest they will continue to add new features. In the case of Instagram, the company believes the new changes to the feed will not be a big deal. Users already tend to follow a large number of people from all over the world, so they most likely won’t even notice the change. Additionally, you haven’t seen Facebook rethink any of their decisions, and people tend to eventually accept the new reality. Just like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will most likely continue on with their new timeline feed. In the worst-case scenario, these platforms might drive away some users, but we don’t predict it being enough users to make a real difference.  However, it doesn’t mean that idea is totally out of the question. Could these social networks eventually fade out due to unwelcomed algorithm changes? Sure, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

If you would like to learn more about the new changes coming to social media, take a look at some our other blogs to stay in the loop!