Earlier this month, Instagram said it would begin showing the "best" posts in your feed first, abandoning the chronological feed the app has used since its inception. "All the posts will still be there," the company said, "just in a different order." But the company's statements have done little to reassure a segment of Instagram users. Posting under the hashtags #turnmeon and #letsstaytogether, they've lit up the app with earnest entreaties for followers to enable notifications for all their posts, lest a single selfie go un-hearted by the maximum number of fans. Instagram is thirsty on a good day, but the prospect of a decline in hearts and comments seems to have triggered a global thirst crisis.
How thirsty is Instagram right now?
It is this thirsty.
I know I know you don't need to say anything .. Instagram is changing and Bla Bla Bla .. I think this is a good period for all of us to think about how bad we made Instagram and socials with so many bad comments and free hate for everyone, and most important this is a chance to think about what's important, friends family and love.. but don't get me wrong, I still want to see your stories my friends, so if you want to see mine "turn me on" and comment Done, and I'll check out your pages and turn yours on as well! ❤I know theres a lot of love out there! Lets rock this world! #Love #Life #TurnMeOn #SpreadTheLove
Naturally, all the begging has inspired a backlash.
The thirst crisis appears to have been triggered by erroneous reports that Instagram would roll out the new feed broadly this week. The fear, which may be more acute for anyone paid to promote products in their Instagram posts, is that the new algorithm may favor everyone else over you, relegating your shirtless mirror selfies to the bottom of the pile.
For its part, Instagram said those fears are overblown.
We're listening and we assure you nothing is changing with your feed right now. We promise to let you know when changes roll out broadly.— Instagram (@instagram) March 28, 2016
This feels a little disingenuous to me. Instagram is planning to re-order the feed, and as in any major change to the way content is distributed, there will be winners and losers. If you have a lot of followers and they tend to engage with your posts a lot, you may see more engagement in the "best posts first" feed. If you have just a handful of followers and post infrequently, you may get so few likes that the individual usernames of the people who liked your post are visible underneath the photo — a social-media catastrophe.
All the big accounts begging you to enable notifications are going to be fine no matter what happens. And that's why #TurnMeOn feels disingenuous, too: an effort to use confusion over the new feed to boost the number of people subscribed to every post. There's an adage in politics: never waste a crisis. It would seem to apply to Instagram, too.
Here's how Facebook decides what's trending