PUBLICATION – Making curation algorithms apparent: a case study of ‘Instawareness’ as a means to heighten awareness and understanding of Instagram's algorithm

(09-03-2021) Journal article by Thibault Fouquaert and dr. Peter Mechant

Despite the increasing prevalence of curation algorithms on everyday social network sites (SNSs) such as Instagram, they often are imperceptible and difficult to become knowledgeable about since little insight in the actual working of these algorithms is given. To address this, we developed an online interface as a visual feedback tool to decrease the ignorance about the Instagram curation algorithm, named ‘Instawareness’ ( As such, the goal of this article was to validate the actual effectiveness of Instawareness and to demonstrate how people can be made aware of the Instagram curation algorithm using a quasi-experiment. Validating the actual effectiveness of Instawareness allowed us to connect additional findings about the influence of awareness and understanding of Instagram’s curation algorithm to our primary validated findings about achieving such awareness. These show that it is not cognitive understanding about Instagram’s algorithms but solely awareness about them that appears to be sufficient for people to indicate increased critical concerns towards SNSs. Furthermore, Instawareness proved to be efficient in increasing cognitive media literacy and in indirectly stimulating critical concerns towards SNSs.

Do you want to explore Instagram’s curation algorithm and discover which posts and friends get prioritized in your feed or what kind of content is not shown in your feed? Discover it yourself using the tool Instawareness.


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