When it comes to meagerly dressed models, irritable memes and general sexually suggestive content, you wouldn’t go too far without the picture sharing app, Instagram, coming to mind. But now, the platform is working towards distancing themselves from being a part of the reason such content go viral on the internet.
“We have begun reducing the spread of posts that are inappropriate but do not go against Instagram’s Community Guidelines,” read a statement from the platform. This is a move spearheaded by their older sister app, Facebook making some updates in order to “manage problematic content across the Facebook family of apps”.
What this means for Instagram is that they are taking steps to limit the kinds of content that appear in the app’s Explore tab or hashtag pages. In clearer words, if a post is obscene/ sexually offensive, it will be demoted. Even though post does not show a sex act or nudity, it still qualifies for elimination.
Moreover, if say, a meme does not contain hate speech or harassment but is considered violent, rude, hurtful or in bad taste, it will get fewer views since Instagram will limit its spread to its users. The post will still be available in the feeds of the ones following the account but will not appear to the broader community.
Instagram’s product manager, Will Ruben, said that the company is trying to be very cautious on how they choose what kind of content falls under the “non-recommendable” category. This will mainly be done by their move to use machine learning for the determination. He also noted that the company takes into account past tendencies when determining which content should be barred and which should not. Instagram’s content moderators are actually currently in training on labelling the content borderline when hunting down policy violations. Instagram will then use those labels to train an algorithm.
These changes could still get mixed emotions as some label it controversial, especially those who have long been suspicious of the app’s “shadow bans” on certain accounts. The suspicion has been out there for a while that the company intentionally covers up some users making them less visible in the feed or the Explore tab for breaking some of its rules. So is it much of an update or just a continuation? Will Ruben, however, did insist that Instagram does not currently demote users’ posts in Instagram feed or Stories and that all this will start with the new changes now.