A Thing You Don’t Know About Instagram
Wondering who is the best stalker in Instagram? Well, if you are lazy to read this post, I tell you now: it’s Instagram itself. Confused? Feel condemned? Disappointed and want to hit me? Read on to understand!
Defining ‘Stalking’ – in Social Media Context
This is important because stalking has several meanings depending on the context we are talking about. Stalking was, is, and probably will always be the informal term existing in social media nowadays. While your presence in social media automatically means you are ‘virtually going out and ready to be seen by anyone in this world’, the term stalking will never be out of date.
For you cavemen (sorry, Gecko mans!), stalking refers to the collection of information regarding other people(s) through the use of social media, often digging through old posts to do so.
This is why if you incidentally liked somebody’s profile picture on Facebook from a year ago, people will say you are caught stalking.
Current State of Stalking
Stalking on Facebook became less ‘out of the norm’ since the introduction of their intelligent algorithm implemented in about 2013, where it randomly, often without you even knowing, shows your old posts to friends’ feed to your dismay.
When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2015, it also implemented the by-then-matured algorithm to the feed feature there. Instead of showing you the newest posts that were posted 5 seconds ago, it now tries to show you that “random posts from two days ago of a friend you barely know but seems to be really important to you right now”. In shorter and less cartoonish sentence, it tried to predict which posts you really want to see right now.
My friends hated it. They say it decreases their overall like counts because they can no longer make use of the ‘peak times’ where most people open Instagram. Oddly enough, the new feature increases my overall counts and I was able to ‘outsmart’ the system to get all those extra likes I never deserve to get with my nonsense posts.
Just How Come Instagram Stalks Me?
Because Instagram keep watching you and it learns your behavior so well. Even better than your ex-crush that still stalks you to this day.
You can try for yourself, but I know everyone is busy today, so you can just read my example and forcibly believe it.
In December I was regularly stalking this particular girl called… Say, cicak. It took only 3 days for Instagram to learn that she is my top interest. So every time I open Instagram and she has a post I haven’t seen, it will definitely be on the top of my feed. And her story (Instagram story, not her story of life), will always be on the far left beside my story icon. Well, If only we always side by side like this… OOPS. WRONG POST!
Anyway, when she got a boyfriend I lost interest in her and stopped stalking her. Although I could manually tell Instagram to mute stories from her, Instagram once again learned quickly from my change of habit and stopped putting her posts and stories on the top of my ‘to see’ list.
You can validate my story by picking a particular person. Simply make sure you like his/her new posts every time and checking their stories regularly. If you don’t mind to publicly announce you are a stalker, you can also like their old posts. This will teach Instagram about your behavior faster.
The Technical Explanation
Okay, I was hyperbole when I said Instagram stalked you. I was click baiting you to waste your time reading this. Instagram is merely a machine, so unless the judgment day from terminator really happens, it is harmless in terms of how it uses your behavioral data against you.
However, the method of services collecting data (Google, Youtube, everything on the web – I mean how come it can predict your interest so easily?) has always been an ongoing concern for geeks like me. While the machine itself is harmless, the people behind them are humans like us. Sure, privacy policies exist and raw data cannot be matched with our identity (at least we were told so), but how strong this borderline be erected? Facebook has been caught numerous times collecting our behavioral data for unknown purposes – often without our consent
How I Outsmart It and Potential Business Implications
I mentioned I was able to outsmart the system and get more likes than I usually get. I do this by making Instagram think that my posts are getting more interested to my followers while they actually are just a simple spike (spike refers to a phenomenon in which a data suddenly increases beyond its previous average). Okay. I will talk human now. So I analyze my previous posts and found out that people like my family pictures better than the picture of me fighting an arrogant dragon in the dungeon. Based on this information I posted family photos each day
For 6 consecutive days using the hashtag #c00lf4mz. Then on the 7th day, I took a rest. Nope. I mean, I posted something else. Something spammy and nasty that nobody wanted to see, using the same hashtag #c00lf4mz. Of course, Instagram thought it was another cool family picture everyone want to see, so it was being shown more often to my follower’s feed and got more engagement than it actually deserves.
If you are promoting a business on Instagram, you can or course makes use of the similar method to pump the engagement of your post. While there is no exact calculation or formula about how Instagram do this (they keep changing it, and of course kept it secret), as a human you can outsmart any machine’s behavior so long you understand their pattern.
Instagram is much less harmless in stalking you than your ex, at least for now. Let’s just hope the system is there just to make everyone’s online experience better, and it will stay that way forever (or until a new social media comes and everyone leaves Instagram, the cycle keeps repeating, isn’t it?)