Instagram changes algorithm for initially censoring pro-Palestinian content

According to the latest news, Facebook owned Instagram implemented several changes in its algorithm after a group of its employees complained that pro-Palestinian content is filtered out for users during the conflict in Gaza. Typically, Instagram surfaces original content in its stories before reposted content but from now on, it will give equal weighting to both. The company confirmed this to The Verge on Sunday.

BuzzFeed News and Financial Times reported that the Instagram employee group had made numerous appeals about censored content. They pointed out that crucial Posts like centering al-Asqa mosque were removed by the previous algorithm. It is to be noted that even the employees didn’t believe that the censorship was deliberate. Financial Times reported that one of the employees said “moderating at scale is biased against any marginalized groups.”

Instagram made change algorithm for initially censoring pro-Palestinian content
Instagram made change algorithm for initially censoring pro-Palestinian content

In an email to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson said the change is not only in response to concerns over pro-Palestinian content but the way the app functioned bubbling up posts that it believes its users care about most. The spokesperson said, “We want to be really clear— this isn’t the case. This applied to any post that’s re-shared in stories, no matter what it’s about.”

Over the past few weeks, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been criticized about how they have surfaced or not surfaced. Earlier this month Twitter restricted the account of a Palestinian writer, which it later confirmed was done “in error.”

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Similarly, Instagram ended up apologizing after many accounts were unable to post Palestine-related content for several hours on 6th May. Eventually, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri had to make a Tweet to get rid of the misunderstanding where he claimed it was due to a “technical bug.”

Instagram said that it has repeatedly heard from users that they want to see original stories from close friends than reshared posts so the algorithm was initially crafted in such a manner.

The Facebook spokesperson said “But there’s been an increase— not just now but in the past as well — in how many people are resharing posts, and we’ve seen a bigger impact than expected on the reach of these posts. Stories that reshare feed posts aren’t getting the reach people expect them to, and that’s not a good experience.”

The spokesperson also said that Instagram still believes users want to see more original content than reshaped posts.

Meta: Instagram had to change its algorithm to show pro Palestine contents.

Key: Instagram

Michael Turner
Michael Turner is an environmental activist with broad, deep experience in print and online writing, publication and site management, news coverage, and editorial team management.