Instagram confirmed that it is developing a new feature called “Favorites,” which would allow users to select certain accounts whose posts they would like to see higher up in their feed. A similar feature already exists on Facebook, where it gives users a bit more control over the News Feed algorithm: users can select up to 30 friends or pages whose posts show higher in the News Feed. However, it is unclear what limit an Instagram Favorites feature would have.
The feature was recently discovered in development by engineer Alessandro Paluzzi, who found a new icon for Favorites in Instagram’s Settings menu, and other details on how it might be developed.
According to screenshots Paluzzi posted on Twitter, users will be able to search through Instagram accounts they are currently following to create a Favorites list. This list can be edited at any time and Instagram notes that users will not be notified when they are added to someone’s Favorites.
This is a similar level of privacy to that offered by Instagram’s “Close Friends” feature, which focuses on allowing users to create a separate list of followers so they can share their most private and personal Instagram Stories with a group of their own choosing.
Paluzzi said he was able to add contacts to the Favorites list, but didn’t notice any changes to the Instagram feed after doing so. That implies that the feature is still being built and a launch is not imminent. “This feature is an internal prototype that is still in development and is not being tested externally,” an Instagram spokesperson said.
A Favorites feature could be part of Instagram’s broader plans to better establish itself as a home for creator content. In other leaks, Paluzzi also discovered that the company was built on “Fan Subscriptions,” which would allow users to pay for elevated access to creator content, such as exclusive live videos or stories, for example. Paid subscribers could also be given a special badge that would highlight their name when they were commented on, DMed or viewed the creator’s Stories.
Since users who were paying for content wouldn’t want to miss a moment, it would make sense to provide them with tools to designate creators as “Favorites” whose posts also ranked higher in their Feed.
A Favorites feature could also be useful for those who took a break from Instagram and prefer to see the important photos and videos they missed from their favorite accounts upon their return, rather than just the most recent or interesting updates from all the accounts they follow. And while that’s probably not the primary goal, the new feature could help address user complaints about algorithmic feeds in general.
There are still a number of people who want to be able to see Instagram posts in chronological order and prefer that posts not be reordered by an algorithm they can’t control. Favorites wouldn’t give in to this demand even though Instagram tested a chronological feed in the past, but it would at least give users the ability to make sure they don’t miss posts from those whose updates they want to see more of.
While Instagram said it is working on developing Favorites, it doesn’t necessarily mean such a feature will launch to the public. Companies the size of Instagram often prototype new ideas, but only some of those tests make it to a general release.