Is The Order Of Your Instagram Followers Meaningful?

Think back. Waaaaay back, to when you first activated your Instagram account. If it was in the early, lawless days of the social media app circa 2012, you might remember that the user interface was vastly different from how it is today. The filters were so basic. Remember the "Brandon" filter? Yeah, us neither. Plus, your IG feed was presented to you in chronological order. There were no advertisements, no Stories, no Reels, no shopping, no instant messaging, and no circles. It was the wild west of platforms. 


Since Facebook (now known as Meta) purchased Instagram in 2012, things have changed quite a bit, and one of the most noticeable differences is the lack of chronological updates in our feed and our follower list. Back in 2019, IG discontinued the "Following Activity" tab, per Business Insider, which showed us in real-time the activities of those in our feed. It was a great way to see if someone close to you had started to follow another account (and equally great if you were suspicious as to why!). But these days, chronological feeds are a thing of the past, and even your own "followers" and "following" lists are not ordered chronologically. So how are they ordered? We investigate.

The IG algorithm prioritizes interactions

If you were hoping for your Instagram "followers" and "following" list to be ordered by the date on which they followed you/you followed them, then it is time you learned the truth about the latest IG algorithm. According to VistaSocial, if you have less than 200 followers (which usually means you have a new account, or you're just *that* low-key), your followers/following list will actually be organized alphabetically. However, if you have more than 200 followers and you've been on the platform for quite some time, if you look at those lists right now, they're most likely not in alphabetical order, and definitely not ordered chronologically. It turns out, the accounts that appear at the top of those lists are actually based on your interactions with them. TechZillo explains that the accounts whose posts you most frequently like or comment on, the accounts you most frequently DM and the accounts you most frequently tag in posts will result in those accounts showing up at the very top of your follower/following lists.


However, in the most recent IG update, there is a way to at least order your own following list chronologically. Once you click on your following list, you will see a button advising that your list is ordered on "default." If you click that, you can change the list to be sorted chronologically, either by "latest" additions or by "earliest" accounts you followed, per Nerd Techy

A woman's hack to see her ex's new IG follows has gone viral

While you can order your own IG following list chronologically, you can't do this for other accounts, and you definitely cannot see the following lists of private accounts that you don't already follow. However, one woman who wasn't intimidated by those technological hurdles revealed that she found a way to hack the algorithm and see the newest accounts her now ex-boyfriend followed, which raised her suspicions. 


Model Kornelija Slunjski posted a video in 2021 that went viral, instructing her followers to use the internet browser Safari to view their partner's IG accounts, per Yahoo Finance, where the following list is automatically sorted chronologically, rather than based on interactions. In the video, Slunjski suggests that if you have suspicions about your partner's whereabouts the night before, this hack could reveal what they were really up to. "So if he says it was a boys' night out, why are you following five new girls? Why!?" she says in the clip. Honestly, we must applaud her next-level detective skills.