Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has changed its algorithm after a number of its workers apparently complained that pro-Palestinian content was not visible to users during the Gaza battle. Instagram traditionally prioritises original material over reposted material in its stories, but the company revealed to The Verge on Sunday that it will begin to give equal weight to both.
According to BuzzFeed News and the Financial Times, the Instagram staff group had made a number of requests over content that had been banned by Instagram’s automatic moderation, such as posts concerning the al-Asqa mosque that had been wrongly removed. According to the Financial Times, the staff did not believe the censoring was intentional, but one stated that “moderating at scale is skewed towards any underprivileged groups.”
According to a Facebook spokesperson in an email to The Verge, the change is not only in response to concerns about pro-Palestinian content, but the company realised that the way the app worked—bubble up posts that it believes its users care about most—led people to believe it was suppressing certain points of view or topics. “We want to be very clear—this is not the case,” stated the spokeswoman.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been chastised in recent weeks for how they have exposed — or not surfaced — information related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Twitter banned the account of a Palestinian writer earlier this month, which it subsequently acknowledged was done “in mistake” after which raced it back. And Instagram ended up apologizing when numerous accounts were unable to publish Palestine-related content for several hours on May 6th, owing to a “technical bug,” as Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri stated.
Instagram claims it has regularly heard from users who claim they are more interested in seeing people who reshare other people’s photographs and posts than they are in seeing unique tales from close friends. According to the spokeswoman, this is why it valued original articles.