Home Tech Instagram users to see less of what Meta deems ‘political’ content unless they opt in

Instagram users to see less of what Meta deems ‘political’ content unless they opt in

by Elijah
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Instagram users to see less of what Meta deems ‘political’ content unless they opt in

Instagram users will see less of what Meta considers “political” content in their recommendations and feed suggestions unless they opt-in, a change the company made last week.

The change requires users to dig into their settings to specifically opt-in to political content via their preferences. This change was first picked up by users on the platform in recent days, implementing a change first announced on February 9.

It’s understood the feature was rolled out over the past week. According to Instagram’s version history in the Apple app store, prior to an update on Monday, the most recent change was a week ago.

The change affects the explore, roles, infeeds, and suggested users recommendations that Instagram shows to users. The company has emphasized that users will continue to see political content from the accounts users already follow.

Meta has described what it considers political content as “laws, elections, or social issues,” but has not provided more specific information about what constitutes politics.

It applies to Instagram and Threads, and accounts flagged by Meta for posting political content can appeal the decision that prevents them from being recommended in feeds of users who haven’t opted in if they believe it is at all has been applied incorrectly.

Explaining the decision in February, Meta said it was aimed at “making Instagram and Threads a great experience for everyone.”

“If you decide to follow accounts that post political content, we don’t want to come between you and their posts, but we also don’t want to proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow.”

A spokesperson for Meta on Tuesday referred Guardian Australia to the February blog post. The company said it would roll out the change to Facebook at a later date.

Instagram has come under criticism recently for allegedly censoring content related to the war between Israel and Gaza, while also grappling with the perception that Facebook’s feed algorithm has fueled political polarization around the world.

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However, a study during the 2020 US election found that changes to the algorithm did not change people’s political perceptions, including a change that reduced the amount of political news people saw on the platform.

The change on Instagram is the latest in a shift by Meta to decouple its services from political and news content. The company is also preparing to remove the News tab from Facebook as the company prepares for a battle against news publishers and the Australian government over payment for news content.

The News Tab will be discontinued in Australia and the US in early April, with Meta announcing earlier this month that it would not be signing any new deals with Australian news publishers to pay for news content on Facebook.

The Albanian government is now determining whether to designate Meta under the 2021 News Media Bargaing Code, which would force Meta to enter into negotiations with publishers or face fines of up to 10% of Australian revenue.

Meta claims that currently less than 3% of what users interact with on Facebook is news content.

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