Facebook announces a new setting that allows you to limit how much potentially sensitive content is displayed on your Instagram Explore tab. According to Facebook, the new sensitive content control setting allows you to “see more or less of some types of sensitive content,” which can be “disturbing or offensive.” How much content the three levels, “Allow”, “Restrict (default)” and “Restrict even more” will or won’t show is rather vague, and we’ve reached out to Facebook for clarification.
On the support page for Sensitive Content ControlInstagram says sensitive content can include sexually suggestive or violent messages, as well as messages promoting things like tobacco or pharmaceutical use. Facebook is clear that this setting is based on its Recommendations Guidelines, which determine what can be displayed on the Explore page, and not are community guidelines.
Posts that violate Facebook’s rules will still be removed. Sensitive content control only gives users more options about how much they want to be exposed to content that can be shocking in the Discover tab. For instance, Facebook says content with a fight or people in see-through clothing may be considered “sensitive” and therefore should not be featured on the Discover page for those with sensitive content limits. However, “Graphic” violence or nudity would be removed from the site and would not appear even for those who have Sensitive Content Control set to “Allow”.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment about the difference the institution makes to the amount of potentially sensitive content shown to a user. However, the descriptions shown in Facebook’s screenshot of the feature, which can be seen at the top of this article, are a little vague – the restrict even more setting doesn’t say you won’t see sensitive content, just that you “may sees fewer messages that “could” be shocking.
According to Facebook, the setting can be accessed by going to your profile and then tapping Settings > Account > Sensitive Content Control. The feature doesn’t seem to have been rolled out to all users yet: the option didn’t show up for me or a few of my colleagues. Facebook says the setting to allow sensitive content may not be available to people under the age of 18.
This announcement comes at a time when many social networks, especially photo and video sharing platforms, are trying to deal with content that may be shocking to some users, but interesting to others. Last year, TikTok introduced warning screens for potentially graphic videos, and Pinterest recently announced a ban on weight loss ads. Instagram itself tries to blur images that could potentially be triggers for those struggling with eating disorders, and provides resources to users searching for content related to eating disorders. Today’s announcement doesn’t seem to indicate a drastic change for the Explore page, but it should give people a little more control over what they see on it.