Instagram Is Now a Dating Platform, Too. Here’s How It Works.

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Not only does Instagram provide a visually driven collage of your life, it also offers a subtle way of expressing interest through likes and comments, and connecting in the form of a private chat. Meanwhile, the lists of users who have looked at each of your Story cards mean that you now have data — rudimentary and inconclusive, but still, data! — on who exactly is obsessing over you today, tomorrow and yesterday.

Confused by the order of story views? Don’t worry. So is everyone else.

“The theory is that whoever are your biggest stalkers on Instagram are at the top,” Ms. Fisher said, referring to the lists of users who have looked at your Story. But that is just a theory. According to a spokesperson, the order is “based on a number of signals including people who recently viewed your story, accounts you interact with the most on Instagram, and more.”

The mystery has spawned endless ideas about the ranking of handles. In a thread on Reddit, users have documented experiments in which they altered various factors like how often they looked at a friend’s profile, or how often they liked photos on a profile, to see which ones had an effect on the order and which ones did not. The goal for many was to figure out that all-consuming question: Does my crush like me as much as I like them?

Thirst traps: what they are and how to use them

Thirst: a strong desire for something; a lust for attention.

Thirst trap: An image or video that’s intended to attract attention from someone and elicit a response.

“A thirst trap can be as simple as a selfie,” said Andrew Keller, 25, a creative strategist at Paper magazine. “I can put up a really cute selfie of me, and the caption can be, ‘Just ate a bag of Twizzlers, hate myself.’”

“It’s like you’re throwing out a net into a sea of fish,” Mr. Yau said. “Whenever I post a story, I kind of have an idea already of who will respond or what kind of response I will get.” If you are successful, the person you are targeting will be tempted to comment. Might even actually comment. Might even “slide into your DMs.” If so, you have pulled off your very own thirst trap.

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