WhatsApp may soon test sorting status updates by relevance on Android
WhatsApp launched its story-based Status functionality two years ago in an attempt to compete against the popularity of temporary media-based “story” updates from Snapchat. While Snapchat has since bled out its Android users through ignorance and incompetence, WhatsApp’s Status feature has grown in popularity by riding on the sheer number of users on the messaging platform.
However, users of WhatsApp will agree that the app’s status updates function is not really what someone would call “useful”. If you have a large number of contacts on WhatsApp (who also have you in their own contact list), you will see large lists of status updates. This list will contain updates from everyone — your family, friends, colleagues as well as every other person that you rarely interact with now. People also frequently pollute Status updates by posting very, very frequently, thus appearing on top of the reverse chronologically-sorted list, because reasons. While you can mute status updates from people you don’t really care about, WhatsApp figured they needed to do more to retain a sense of relevancy to the Status update list.
Now, WhatsApp is reportedly testing an algorithm for Status that will sort updates by relevance to the viewer, rather than simply listing the poster with the latest update on top (along with all of his unexpired updates). According to Mashable, the messaging platform is testing out this feature with a small subset of iPhone users in Brazil, Spain and India; with plans to roll it out broadly as well as on Android in the future. This new algorithmic sorting will order updates based on whose update is likely to be most relevant to the viewer. This will be determined through a variety of signals into accounts, such as whose Statuses you frequently view and interact with, as well as who you message frequently.
Mashable claims that WhatsApp will retain the information it collects to make these determinations on the user’s phones, and out of WhatsApp’s servers. Your preferences will be saved as a part of backups, however.
Algorithm based sorting changes have not been Facebook’s forte. The social media platform has been criticized in almost every instance of it trying to change sorting preferences, whether it be on Facebook or Instagram. So it remains to be seen how WhatsApp’s massive user base will react to these upcoming changes.