The Evolution of Instagram’s Following Feature: A Complete Guide

what is following on instagram

The Evolution of Instagram’s Following Feature: A Complete Guide

Instagram, one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, has undergone several transformations since its inception in 2010. One of the key features that has evolved significantly over the years is the “Following” feature. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various stages of development and improvements made to this feature on Instagram.

Stage 1: Basic Following

When Instagram was first launched, the Following feature was relatively simple. Users could follow other accounts and see their posts in a chronological order on their feed. It allowed users to keep up with their favorite accounts and discover new content from people they knew or admired.

Stage 2: Algorithmic Sorting

As Instagram grew in popularity, the chronological feed became overwhelming for users, and they often missed out on important posts. To enhance the user experience, Instagram introduced an algorithmic sorting system in 2016. This system prioritized posts based on relevance, engagement, and user behavior. It aimed to show users the content they were more likely to find interesting, resulting in a more personalized experience.

Stage 3: Following Categories

In 2018, Instagram introduced “Following Categories,” allowing users to organize the accounts they followed into specific groups. This feature made it easier for users to navigate their following list and find content from specific categories such as friends, family, influencers, or brands. Users could also customize their categories, making it a more personalized and organized experience.

Stage 4: Following Activity

In 2019, Instagram introduced the Following Activity feature, which allowed users to see the recent activity of the accounts they followed. This included likes, comments, and posts their followed accounts engaged with. While this feature sparked some privacy concerns, it provided users with more insights into the behavior of their following list and allowed them to discover new accounts based on their interests.

Stage 5: Following Suggestions and Discovery

Instagram continuously strives to enhance its user experience and help users discover new content. In recent years, the platform has introduced Following Suggestions and Discovery features. Following Suggestions recommend accounts to users based on their interests, the accounts they already follow, and their activity. Discovery, on the other hand, showcases trending content, popular accounts, and posts from outside a user’s immediate following list. These features have revolutionized the way users find and engage with content on Instagram.


The evolution of Instagram’s Following feature has transformed the way users engage with content and connect with others. From a simple chronological feed to an algorithmic sorting system, and the introduction of Following Categories and Activity, Instagram has continuously refined this feature to provide users with a more personalized and enjoyable experience. Additionally, the implementation of Following Suggestions and Discovery has made it easier for users to discover new accounts and explore content beyond their immediate following list.


1. Can I still see posts from all the accounts I follow?

While Instagram’s algorithmic sorting system may prioritize certain posts on your feed, you can still access posts from all the accounts you follow. Simply head to the “Following” section on your profile, and you will find a chronological list of posts from all the accounts you follow.

2. How does Instagram determine the accounts shown in my Following Suggestions?

Instagram uses a combination of factors to determine the accounts shown in your Following Suggestions. This includes your interests, the accounts you already follow, your activity, and popular accounts within your network. The more you engage with content and follow relevant accounts, the better Instagram’s suggestions will become.

3. Can I customize my Following Categories?

Yes, Instagram allows users to customize their Following Categories. To do so, simply go to your profile, click on “Following,” and select the “Manage” option. From there, you can create, edit, or delete categories according to your preferences.

4. Can I hide my activity from other users?

Yes, Instagram provides an option to control the visibility of your activity. You can choose to hide your likes and comments by going to your profile, selecting the three-line menu, and accessing the “Settings” option. From there, navigate to “Privacy” and then “Activity Status.” You can toggle the option to hide your activity from others.

5. How often does Instagram update its algorithmic sorting system?

Instagram continuously updates its algorithmic sorting system to improve the user experience. The frequency of these updates may vary, but the platform constantly analyzes user behavior and feedback to refine the sorting process and provide the most relevant content to each user.

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