Tech Feature I Wish Existed
Tired of seeing irrelevant content in your app feed? Then probably, this feature is for you too!
January 9th, 2022
Remember that time when Instagram just showed you the content posted by the people & pages you followed? The time when there was no explore section or the infinite reel scroll of creepily relevant content!?
With the advancements in technology and the supporting infrastructure, your devices are becoming more and more capable. With devices becoming more capable smartphones are now becoming smarter; smart enough to observe your behavior and more importantly capable of altering the content you see based on your liking.
Some examples of it could be when news apps notify you about the topics you follow or when your music app comes up with new songs that you might like, or when your shopping app suggests products that people with similar interests to yours' bought.
Apps do this so that you spend more and more time on their apps. In turn, it brings them more business. In fact, these days rarely do we see apps that don't follow this practice. No doubt, it's good for users but after some time with some apps, it becomes overly personalized. Let me explain.
Has Spotify ever messed up your Daily Mixes after you listened to a few songs that you didn't like? Do you remember that instance when Instagram filled your entire explore feed with posts related to that one topic you were momentarily interested in? Now, are you able to connect the dots and realize that your experience has sometimes been overly personalized to the extent that it didn't even feel relatable?
To understand how this is happening let me provide you with some context. To deliver personalized content these apps rely primarily on two things, the first being the ability to track your activity across apps and websites and gather as much information as they can. And second, being the advanced algorithms, that create your digital profile based on a lot of data points. Then this profile is matched and compared with other users to predict what you might like or dislike.
Sometimes these algorithms are tuned to work on very little data. Due to which your apps react quite aggressively to the algorithm's recommendation and adapt quickly based on your activity.
And that's where the problem begins, in the quest of delivering the best experience they mess up everything and end up delivering content that is not very relevant. And the worst part about it is that you end up spending more time with irrelevant content and finding a way out by exploring random stuff which works as more data points for these apps. In turn, they end up building a profile with which you related just momentarily.
Now what? How do you correct it? Most of the time the only way out is either to keep using the apps in hopes that with time it will someday correct itself or to delete your account and create a new one.
And here comes the utility of the new feature I wish existed in all our apps which is a way for these apps to unlearn our behavior and start afresh.
But, are we going to see this become reality in the near future? I don't think so, but who knows! Until next time.