May 22, 2024
Threads is working on surfacing Trends, says Instagram head Adam Mosseri


Instagram Threads will adopt another Twitter/X feature: trends, the company has confirmed. In a reply to a user on the app, Instagram head Adam Mosseri noted that work on such a feature was in the works, responding that “we are working on surfacing trends” — a feature that would make the X rival even more competitive offering in terms of providing access to more real-time news and information.

Threads, to date, has been criticized by some who felt the app’s “For You” algorithm prioritized creators and posts from those they didn’t follow and don’t care about. It also often shows older posts, making the app feel stagnant. More recently, users complained that Threads was recommending low-quality content, which the company said it was fixing. Complaints around the algorithm’s faults could potentially lessen with the launch of a Trends feature, as it would tap into the popular topics and discussions taking place on the app, giving people a new way to find interesting and relevant conversations.

 

Post by @mosseri

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TechCrunch previously reported that Threads was working on Trends last October after a Threads user spotted the feature in a screenshot posted accidentally by an Instagram employee. At the time, the feature included a numbered list of trending topics as well as how many “threads” were actively discussing each item.

Unlike X’s trends, Threads’ Trends list that appeared in the leaked screenshot didn’t appear to be accompanied by other trending lists by topic, like News, Sports, and Entertainment, or a list of Trends that are personalized to the end user, as are found on X. Instead, it showed a simple list of active discussions — like Disney+’s release of Loki Season 2, for example, or Billboard’s Latin Music Week, which were popular then.

Despite user demand for Trends on Threads, the feature could be potentially problematic — especially if trends are algorithmically curated, instead of being curated by human editors or with human oversight. Bad actors could take advantage of a trends feature to make a certain topic or tag go viral, even if it’s inappropriate or toxic. Spammers could also use a trends feature to flood a topic with their unwanted posts. Given that Threads is still managed by a small team, relative to Meta’s size, introducing trends to Threads adds another layer of complexity to the app, and another surface for potential harm.

Mosseri didn’t say when Trends would launch on Threads, but a screenshot from reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi showed a different version of Trends, that had been renamed as “Today’s Topics.” It’s unclear how Trends will look when it launches publicly, however.



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