The “Bieber problem” refers to a technical issue that Instagram faced due to the massive popularity of pop star Justin Bieber on the platform. When Bieber would post a photo, it would receive so many “Likes” that Instagram’s cache couldn’t hold them all.
This would cause the service to slow down as it tried to retrieve each “Like” from disk, leading to a strain on the entire infrastructure. This issue was so significant that Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger memorized Bieber’s digital ID in the database due to the frequency of these incidents.
To solve this problem, Instagram had to restructure its system to handle the high volume of interactions generated by Bieber’s posts. The solution involved using a memory cache inside their computer data centers to quickly push new content to their millions of users. This approach allowed Instagram to deliver data from memory, which is faster than delivering it from databases sitting on disks.
As of 2024, Instagram’s algorithm has evolved significantly. It now uses a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes to personalize the user experience. The goal is to keep users on the app longer by delivering content they find relevant and interesting. Despite these changes, the influence of popular figures like Bieber continues to be a significant factor in the platform’s operation and development.
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