When Instagram launched Stories in 2016, it changed the way users interact and view content on the photo-sharing app – while prompting an entirely new question about who is viewing our profiles the most.
When an Instagram user uploads a Story, which lasts for 24 hours, they can see a list of everyone who viewed it.
However, nobody is entirely sure what Instagram algorithm deciphers who shows up at the top of the list – and Instagram refuses to tell the exact way top viewers are determined.
It has long been assumed, with multiple hypotheses to back it up, that the top viewers who appear are the ones interacting with your profile the most.
According to Instagram, however, this isn’t the case.
Although the app has not, and likely will never reveal the exact algorithm that goes into Story viewers, Julian Gutman, product lead for Instagram Home, which includes Stories and the Feed explained to The Verge that it isn’t what you think – your top viewers aren’t the ones stalking your profile after all.
“So the answer is, the people that show up on that list are not the people that stalk you the most – it is actually based on your activity and the people that you are closest to,” said Gutman.
This means that viewing a profile often may be enough to boost a viewer to the top of your list – even if you’ve never liked a single picture.
The algorithm also reflects likes, comments, direct messages, and other interactions on the app, and adapts to your habits – showing you the content it feels you want to see most.
Your interactions outside of Instagram, on parent app Facebook, also play a part in pushing viewers to the top of the list.
Despite the explanation, people are still convinced that the top Story viewers are the ones looking – and not the other way around.
On Reddit, various experiments claim to prove that the top five viewers are the people that view your profile the most.
But according to Instagram, users have more control over their top viewers than they’d thought.
This article was originally published in July 2018