Bulletins

Instagram is pushing people to watch Reels again

The platform is testing a change to hashtags that will surface Reels instead of recent posts.

The Instagram logo on a dark background

Instagram is testing a change to highlight Reels.

Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash
Last month Instagram decided to finally let users see the most recent posts first in their feed. Now the company is testing something on the opposite spectrum, removing the "recent" tab from the hashtag page. The reason, Instagram said, is to help users connect with "more interesting and relevant content." But really this seems like yet another play to compete with TikTok.

Instagram announced on Twitter Tuesday that users involved in the test now will see just two tabs: Top, where the most popular content will be displayed, and Reels, where you'll see videos (presumably many of which will be lifted straight from TikTok).

Instagram parent company Meta has been transparent about how much it’s relying on Reels for growth. Facebook’s user growth declined for the first time last quarter, but Zuckerberg said Reels were Meta’s fastest-growing content type. And even though most Reels content is just 3-week-old TikToks, Meta continues to lean in to the short-form video format. Instagram rolled out a menu of options for creators to monetize Reels in mid-February, and the algorithm pushes the looping videos more than most other content. Now, the company is being a little less discreet, increasing the odds users scroll through the videos by eliminating other options.

The hashtag change comes on the heels of Instagram rolling out several new features. Creators can now support causes through hashtags, for example. All users can also now tag products in their posts, whereas before this feature was only available to brands and designated creators.


Hashtags are a key way for people to find content on Instagram, so the change might not be a welcome one for users who rely on hashtags to surface new posts instead of simply the most popular posts or cringe-worthy Reels that were lifted straight from TikTok. But Instagram may decide not to roll out the test widely.

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