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Pinterest’s new feed has just your friends’ pins, and no algorithmic recommendations

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Image: Pinterest

Pinterest is introducing a big, but decidedly familiar new feature today: a feed, which will show recent pins from the people and boards you’re following. And mercifully, the feed will largely be shown in chronological order.

The current Pinterest experience already revolves around a feed of pins, but it doesn’t take into account who you follow all that much. Over time, Pinterest says it found that the pins it algorithmically placed in the feed saw much higher engagement than pins from people that users chose to follow, so its main feed has grown to become almost entirely algorithmic, based around interests that users have selected and the things they’ve been pinning.

That feed isn’t going to change. But Pinterest says it’s heard from enough people who want to see exactly what their friends and others are doing. The new tab, called Following, will only show the latest pins from the people and boards you’ve chosen to follow. Pinterest says it will also give brands, influencers, and other personalities a way to more directly engage with people on the network. The section starts to roll out today on Pinterest’s website as well as its iOS and Android apps, where it will show up as a primary option right beside the original feed.

Pinterest says the Following feed will be almost entirely chronological: posts won’t appear higher just because they’ve received more engagement or the site thinks you’ll like them more. The only time it’ll mess with the feed is if one of the people you’re following pins a large number of things in a row; in that case, it may not show all of them at once, so that you can more quickly see what other people are pinning.

That means that, even though Pinterest is introducing another feed amid an ongoing crisis about the spread of propaganda and false information on social media, the Following tab isn’t as likely to run into those problems. Since it isn’t relying on algorithmic recommendations, users have much more control over what they see — and there isn’t an obvious way for bad actors to game the system. A Pinterest representative also said that the platform isn’t widely used for sharing news, and that it was more common for people to pin long reads that they wanted to catch up on later.

In a way, this feed actually brings Pinterest full circle. The site launched with a more traditional feed, then brought in algorithmic recommendations in order to improve the experience. Other social networks have gone through the exact same process — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name three — often to the frustration of users. And recently, we’ve seen some of these networks start to move back in the other direction: Instagram is showing more recent photos first, Facebook is showing more of your friends’ content, and Snapchat split apart friends and brands.