Instagram and Threads will no longer “proactively” recommend political content


Meta doesn’t want its new Threads app to become another Twitter, full of heated political debates and the resulting toxicity. In an announcement today, the company detailed how it will approach recommending political content on Instagram and its sister app, Threads, a competitor to Elon Musk’s X. In short, it will no longer impose policies on users. Similar to Facebook’s existing Meta policies, Instagram and Threads’ recommendation engines will no longer proactively suggest political posts to users by default, the company announced Friday.

On Facebook, Meta has reduced the amount of political content that appears in recommendations in News Feed (formerly News Feed), Reels, Facebook Watch (videos), Groups You Should Join, and Pages You you might like. Today, it announces that this same approach will be applied to Instagram and Reels in the months leading up to the 2024 US elections.

In an announcement shared on Instagram Blog And Meta-Transparency Center, the company said changes to the Instagram app will impact areas like Instagram Reels and Instagram Explore, as well as In-Feed recommendations on Instagram and Threads. With this latest move, Meta significantly differentiates its new app from Twitter, now called X.

Twitter has often been the site of political debate, an extension of its function as a real-time information network. But Instagram has kept Threads out of the news, after delaying the addition of a “trending” feature, as proposed by X. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, also specifically said in October that Threads will not amplify the news on its platform.

To be clear, the upcoming Meta changes impact Instagram’s role in content recommendation, but not how it displays content from accounts users already follow, the company said. For example, if an account not eligible for recommendation posts political content, such as information about elections, laws, or other social topics, that account’s content will still reach its followers through News Feed and Stories . It just won’t be proactively recommended to non-subscribers.

Image credits: Meta

Instagram says business accounts will be able to use a Account Status Feature to check their current eligibility status and may choose to edit or remove posts from this page. They can also request a review if they disagree with Instagram’s decision on a piece of content, or choose to stop posting content so they can receive a recommendation again. (The company did not, however, specify how long she would need to abstain from political office to be eligible again.)

Additionally, users who want political content to be recommended will be able to enable it in their settings on Instagram and Threads. Facebook will also benefit from similar control at some point in the future.

Removing politics from recommendation surfaces and forcing users to re-enable it if they want to see it are changes that come after years of Meta being held responsible for much of the world’s political unrest. Whether it be held responsible for genocide in Myanmar or for the January 6 attack on the Capitol here in the United States., Meta’s social media apps have been used to amplify hate and misinformation, leading to violence. Clearly, the company wants to put more distance between what it offers its users via algorithms and the type of content that could become problematic at scale.

The move could also help placate lawmakers who are considering how to regulate big tech companies that have gained monopoly power.

Meta says the changes will be rolled out to Instagram and Threads users “slowly over time to get there”, while not offering a specific date, they would be fully available to everyone.


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