Home » Technology » Snapchat is stifled by its un-algorithmic feed

Snapchat invented its best products by being the anti-Facebook. Its disappearing chats made visual communication quick and casual compared to Facebook’s email-esque text messages. Stories ditched the likes and permanency so you could share your raw moments in the now, instead of just the life highlights that define you forever on your Facebook Timeline.

But now this “opposite of Facebook” orthodoxy is holding Snapchat back. After a brutal year of being copied by the world’s biggest social network, Snapchat might be wise to return the favor.

Twitter and Instagram prove out the algorithm

Twitter was once in Snap’s position. With slowing growth, it needed a big change to reinvigorate its aging app and make it easier for people who don’t browse tweets constantly. Twitter had always been the real-time firehose of commentary about what’s going on right now. Yet over the years, as users followed more and more accounts, their best friends and the best tweets were drowned in the rushing river of their purely reverse-chronological feeds.

Instagram sorts Stories algorithmically atop the screen

So Twitter made its most significant product update in years: it switched to algorithmic-sorting of its feed. Suddenly it didn’t matter if you followed a few noisy public figures or annoying oversharers, or if your favorite accounts only posted occasionally. Twitter began sifting out what you cared about most and showing it first.

The result has been Twitter’s first meaningful growth in many quarters, adding 9 million users in Q1 2017. “We further refined the timeline to display a broader set of Tweets from a person’s network and applied deep learning models to show the most relevant Tweets first . . . These changes improved retention across both MAU and DAU” Twitter wrote in the quarter’s letter to investors.

Instagram pulled off a similar product coup this year. Previously it showed you every picture and video posted by people you…

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