Instagram is changing its ranking to favor original content

Instagram is making a few new creator-focused changes to its platform, which Instagram head Adam Mosseri said are intended to “make sure the credit goes to those who deserve it.”

The new stuff consists of three changes: product tags are now available to everyone, so you can tag a product in your post; you can assign yourself to a category like “Photographer” or “Rapper” and have that category appear every time you’re tagged in a post; and Instagram is going to promote more original content on the platform.

“When you make something from scratch,” Mosseri said in a video explaining the new features, “you should get more appreciation than if you re-share something you found from someone else. We’re going to try to do more to value original content more, especially when compared to reposted content.” Appreciating original content isn’t new, of course, but Mosseri said Instagram is leaning more in this direction.

Translation? Please, please, please stop posting your favorite TikToks on Reels. We beg you.

Meta has made it clear that it sees Facebook and Instagram as forward-looking platforms for creators, rather than tools for people to connect with their friends. So both platforms have invested in shopping tools, ways for creators to build audiences, and a host of other things that they hope will entice creators to stop being TikTokers and YouTubers and become Instagrammers and Facebookers.

Reels in particular are central to this. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the short videos “by far our fastest growing content format”, and they are now available on Facebook and Instagram. But anyone who uses Reels knows it can feel like a TikTok clone, often with the same content just reposted — TikTok logo and all — from elsewhere. A way for Instagram to discourage that practice? Bury it in the rankings. And that’s exactly what Mosseri seems to be planning.

As for how Instagram will determine what counts as original, Mosseri just said it’s hard, and “we’ll iterate over time.” The change will likely be a huge problem for aggregator accounts, many of which are hugely popular sources of memes and trends, but often accused of stealing content and credit from creators. “As we rely more on recommendations, it becomes increasingly important that we don’t overvalue aggregators,” Mosseri tweeted, “because that would be bad for creators and therefore bad for Instagram in the long run.”

The pursuit of original content on Meta’s social products is nothing new, any more than the fact that the most popular things on Facebook and Instagram tend to be plagiarized. Meta’s platforms have the largest audience, but TikTok, Twitter and others are usually where new memes and trends are created. If Instagram and Facebook are to be successful platforms for creators, they will have to find a way to turn that around. And getting started by turning the most powerful knob — the ranking algorithm that controls what billions of people see every day — is a pretty serious first step. Another idea would be to pay creators more, but since Meta seems to be cutting reel payouts, that may not be happening anytime soon.

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