Many users believe the app shows who looks at their profiles the most
Instagram Stories are possibly the most important way that people interact on the platform.
As the photo sharing app pivots to Reels and recommended content in the main feed, more people are watching Stories.
When an Instagram user uploads a Story, which lasts for 24 hours, they can see a list of everyone who viewed it – leading to many conspiracy theories about exactly how the social media app is ranking views.
Many people have assumed that the top viewers are the ones who interact with your profile the most, However, according to Instagram, this is an urban myth.
Julian Gutman, product lead for Instagram Home, said in 2018 that “the people that show up on that list are not the people that stalk you the most – it is actually based on your activity and the people that you are closest to”.
This means if you go to someone’s page more often, they are more likely to show up at the top of your story viewers.
This includes whether you visit their profile, see their stories, like their posts, and make comments.
However, it’s not clear how Instagram ranks these actions – whether a like is ranked higher than a Story view, or what happens if you leave someone’s DMs unread.
If you check the list multiple times, Instagram will also show users new people. “It’s trying to show new information”, Mr Gutman said.
Your interactions outside of Instagram, on Meta’s other app Facebook, play a part in pushing viewers to the top of the list too.
Instagram has also said its leaning into more algorithmically recoomended content – doubling the amount of content shown by artificial intelligence and from people, groups or accounts that people haven’t actually chosen by the end of 2023, according to Mark Zuckerberg.
At the moment, about 15 per cent of content in people’s Facebook feeds comes from recommendations, Mr Zuckerberg said. On Instagram, the number is “a little higher”.