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Stuff that matters

You’re on Instagram looking for your best friend’s daily dog update, but you have to scroll endlessly through a sea of posts you care little about, and probably forget what you’re looking for in the first place. After a few extra annoyed scrolls, you close the app in frustration.

It seems Instagram is well aware of your plight, because it is quietly testing out a solution for your messy feed called “Favorites.”

According to Alessandro Paluzzi, a mobile developer who first posted about the new feature on Twitter, Favorites lets you categorize your most important Instagram accounts (friends and creators) as your priorities, so that their posts will land “higher” in your feed.

If this feature sounds familiar, it’s because Instagram was testing a different Favorites feature back in 2017, which you let you limit the exact audience for each post. For example, you could share your wedding photo with just your designated favorites, rather than with your entire following.

The 2021 iteration of Favorites, however, is about giving you more control over your feed — by telling Instagram which accounts are most important to you. After all, you may follow a bunch of different brands and creators on your account, but you don’t necessarily prioritize their content on the same level as your closest friends and families.

Currently, Instagram ranks the order of your feed by the most recent and shared posts from the people you follow, plus other “signals” like how likely you’ll engage with a post, according to the company’s June 2021 blog post about its algorithm. While you may “like” many posts you see, those may not be the content you’re actually looking for, but might be sending Instagram all the wrong signals on what you actually want to see in your feed.

It’s not clear whether this Favorites feature will become an official feature at all or if it will change before it’s rolled out more broadly. For now, Instagram says it “is an internal prototype that’s still in development, and not testing externally.” Perhaps in the future, you just might see this feature in your account menu, just below “Close Friends” — a feature that lets you control who you share your Stories.