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brAInfood: How does the Instagram Explore page work?

This brAInfood is a collaboration with the Knowledge Centre Data & Society and was published earlier on their website.

On social media, you no longer see only photos and posts from people you follow. Both Facebook and Instagram are actively pushing to show posts from accounts you do not yet follow. On Instagram, this is done through the ‘Explore’ page.

This page appears when you click on the magnifying glass icon in the application. According to Instagram, over half of all Instagram users visit this page daily. For influencers and businesses, being visible on this Explore page is particularly important, as it is the best way to connect with new followers. But what about users? How does Instagram determine which content is attractive to you? What AI technology determines what your Explore page looks like? And do you have a say in it yourself?

This brAInfood was developed by Annelien Smets and Brett Binst (SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel). They relied on information from Meta’s Transparency Center.

In this brAInfood you can read about:

  • the four recommender systems Instagram uses to create your Explore page,

  • the different signals that are used to make predictions,

  • what you can do to exercise control over your Explore page.

Read the brAInfood in Dutch or English.


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